AMD's new 7th Generation laptop chips will take on Intel's Skylake

The first 7th Generation chips will be available in HP's Envy X360 15.6-inch laptop

AMD hopes to provide stiffer competition to Intel's Skylake with its new "7th Generation" processor for laptops and desktops.

The new AMD processors, code-named Bristol Ridge, will initially ship in dual-core and quad-core configurations. A Bristol Ridge processor will first appear in HP's Envy X360 laptop, and PCs with FX and A-series chips will follow later this year.

The chips will succeed last year's PC processors code-named Carrizo. Bristol Ridge's architecture is similar to that of Carrizo, but incremental improvements will help laptops deliver faster performance and longer battery life. AMD will spill more details on the 7th Generation chips at the upcoming Computex conference in Taipei.

Users haven't warmed up to older AMD chips, and Bristol Ridge is the last laptop chip before the company's highly anticipated Zen chips. AMD is rebooting its PC chip business with Zen, a fundamental redesign of AMD's processor architecture.

But until Zen, users looking to upgrade laptops can expect better PC performance with Bristol Ridge chips. AMD claims the new chips are approximately 50 percent faster than laptop chips code-named Kaveri from two years ago.

The performance of graphics, which has always been AMD's strength, stands out. AMD claims the graphics performance in its new chips are 18 percent faster than Carrizo, and 50 percent better than comparable Intel Skylake chips. Bristol Ridge will be the first AMD laptop chip to support DDR4 memory.

AMD didn't share details on specific CPU performance improvements but expect single- to low double-digit performance increases. Until Zen, users won't see a significant CPU performance change in AMD's chips, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

AMD says it will deliver a 40 percent CPU performance improvement with Zen. This is significant because current chips focus more on power efficiency than improving CPU performance.

The HP Envy X360, the first laptop to include a Bristol Ridge processor, has a 15.6-inch screen and can fold into a tablet. One model will come with AMD's FX 9800P processor. The FX chips are AMD's fastest processors, and the HP laptop could be used for 4K gaming.

The Envy X360 will also be sold with Intel Skylake chips installed. With the AMD chip, the laptop will offer up to 10 hours of battery and will support up to 2TB of hard-drive or 256GB of solid-state drive storage. The laptop is 18.8 millimeters thick and will start shipping in May, with the cost starting at US$679.99.

Bristol Ridge will keep AMD processors available for laptops until the Zen chips for portable PCs come out next year. Intel has taken a step ahead with its Skylake chips after struggling last year with its Broadwell chips. The first Zen chips will come out for high-end gaming desktops later this year, and then in servers early next year.

Bristol Ridge will also compete with Intel's upcoming chips code-named Kaby Lake, which will have similar technology to Skylake.

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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