On Tuesday morning, AMD unveiled the first Ryzen desktop accelerated processing units (APUs, or CPUs that have integrated GPUs) to rely on its Zen 2 CPU core microarchitecture. The lineup, which also includes some low-end processors based on AMD’s older Zen+ microarchitecture and sold under its Athlon brand, is split into 65-watt “G” series processors featuring between 4 and 8 cores, and 35-watt “GE” series processors featuring between 2 and 6 cores.
AMD is also launching “Pro” versions of the APUs that are meant specifically for corporate PCs. These processors have clock speeds that are identical to those of their non-Pro counterparts, but (much like Intel (INTC) - Get Report processors supporting its vPro technology) come with additional security and management features.
Notably, AMD is for now only selling its desktop processors with integrated GPUs to PC OEMs such as Lenovo and HP (HPQ) - Get Report, each of which provided a quote for its press release. However, AMD, which claims an outsized share of the do-it-yourself (DIY) desktop market did say during a press briefing that it plans to eventually launch “a next-gen APU” for DIY desktop builders.
The new processors have a lot in common with the Zen 2-based notebook APUs AMD launched earlier this year. However, since power consumption and heat dissipation requirements are less stringent for desktop processors, they scale to higher clock speeds.
Whereas AMD’s most powerful notebook APU -- the 8-core, 45-watt, Ryzen 9 4900H -- has a 3.3GHz base clock speed and a 4.4GHz boost clock, its most powerful desktop APU -- the 8-core, 65-watt, Ryzen 7 4700G -- has a 3.6GHz base clock to go with a 4.4GHz boost clock. And whereas the 4900H is the only notebook APU with a base clock above 3GHz, all of the Zen 2-based desktop APUs AMD is launching have base clocks of 3.1GHz or higher.
Nonetheless, the 4700G’s CPU is still much less powerful than those of AMD’s most powerful standalone desktop CPUs. The company’s $499 Ryzen 9 3900XT CPU, which launched last month as part of a minor refresh of its high-end desktop CPU lineup, packs 12 cores and has a 3.8GHz base clock and a 4.7GHz boost clock.
AMD also sells a 16-core Ryzen desktop CPU (the Ryzen 9 3950X) that has a $749 MSRP. And for enthusiasts and workstation buyers, it offers its Ryzen Threadripper 3000-series CPU line, which scales up to 64 cores and saw “Pro” versions aimed at corporate workstation buyers launch last week.
As a result, for the moment at least, AMD’s most powerful desktop CPUs are labeled as 3000-series products, even though it’s also offering a line of 4000-series desktop APUs. But this small bit of branding confusion might not last too long, given that AMD is widely believed to be prepping high-end desktop CPUs (possibly receiving the Ryzen 5000 label) based on its next-gen Zen 3 microarchitecture, which is expected to deliver a double-digit performance improvement in terms of instructions per cycle (IPC).
At AMD’s March analyst day, EVP Rick Bergman said that AMD plans to bring Zen 3 to the PC CPU market before year's end. And on Tuesday, Bergman said in a blog post that AMD plans to launch its first Zen 3-based client (PC) CPU later this year.
Though Bergman hasn't said whether the processor(s) will be for desktops or notebooks, the first AMD PC CPUs based on a next-gen microarchitecture have historically been desktop products. Moreover, with AMD having first launched Zen 2-based desktop CPUs in July 2019, and its first Zen 2-based notebook processors in January 2020, the timing feels much more appropriate for a desktop refresh.
AMD's stock is nearly flat in Tuesday trading. The Ryzen 4000 desktop APU launches come ahead of the company's Q2 report, which is due after the bell on July 28.