The PC market isn't in terrific shape right now, but judging by the new series of nine seventh-generation APUs that it just announced at Computex in Taipei, AMD is committing itself to the platform nonetheless—and trying to do so in a way that challenges Intel most specifically in the lower price ranges of the market.
Though AMD hasn't changed a lot since the Carrizo APUs it released last year—these new chips still use the same 28nm production process, have four Excavator CPU cores, and use Radeon GCN GPU cores—it's made targeted changes designed to hold over the company (and its users) until the new Zen CPU core (above) is released for 2017.
The seventh-generation family's "Bristol Ridge" chips, comprising those in its FX, A12, and A10 lines, will offer a number of features aimed at high-end users, including support for DDR4 memory running up to 2,400MHz and Adaptive Voltage and Frequency Scaling technology to better balance the speed and voltage at which a chip runs.
The most powerful of the "Bristol Ridge" iterations is the 35-watt FX 9830P, with a base clock speed of 3.0GHz capable of boosting to 3.7GHz, which is followed by the FX 9800P (15 watts, 2.7GHz base, 3.6GHz boost). The two A12 chips are the A12-9730P (35 watts, 2.8GHz base, 3.5GHz boost) and A12-9700P (15 watts, 2.5GHz base, 3.4GHz boost), and the A10 chips are the A10-9630P (35 watts, 2.6GHz base, 3.3GHz boost) and the A10-9600P (2.4GHz base, 3.3GHz boost). AMD claims performance improvements of up to 37 percent over previous APUs.
"Stoney Ridge" APUs fall below "Bristol Ridge" in line, with higher clock speeds than older Carrizo chips and support for 2,133MHz memory, putting them in competition, so AMD claims, with Intel's low-power champ, the Core i3-6100U. Of these, the A9-9410 is the speediest, with a base clock of 2.9GHz and a boost clock of 3.5GHz; the A6-9210 (2.4GHz base, 2.8GHz boost) and E2-9010 (2.0GHz base, 2.2GHz boost) are right behind; all "Stoney Ridge" chips have a 15-watt Thermal Design Power (TDP).
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These seventh-generation chips are paired with different graphics systems depending on the chip: The FX and A12 lines will be mated with Radeon R7, the A10 and A9 with Radeon R5, and the A6 and E2 lines will respectively use R4 and R2 graphics. Every chip, however, will consume either 15 or 35 watts (power usage in line with Intel's Skylake platform) and include built-in hardware support for 4K H.264, 4K HEVC, and 1080p VP9 video decoding—three codecs used in popular services like YouTube and Netflix.
Among the upcoming laptops supporting the new chips are Dell's Inspiron 15 Series (priced starting at $399) and the HP Envy x360 convertible notebook.