AMD's Bristol Ridge processor takes it to the limit

AMD Bristol Ridge

AMD has been teasing its 7th generation Bristol Ridge APUs for quite a while now but we're finally getting the full details on the company's new system on a chip.

As expected, Bristol Ridge comes with four excavator cores and eight Radeon graphics cores. Some of the underlying improvements include HEVC support to help decode high-resolution video content, 128-bit support for DDR4 (or DDR3) memory and 12 lanes of PCI-e Gen3.

Despite these additions, Bristol Ridge has a lot in common with the sixth-generation Carrizo architecture. Both APU families share a similar, if improved, 28-nanometer process and the layout of the chip itself is almost identical.

However, what makes AMD's 7th generation chip evolutionary is the way company is tuning each individual APU to perform at its absolute limits. For starters, Bristol Ridge's compute cores perform 20% faster than Carrizo while offering up to 37% more GPU performance and 12% better energy efficiency.

To eke out this extra performance, AMD ran each chip through a reliability tracking test in which it would run the processor at higher temperatures to survey how far they could push the chip.

AMD also implemented a new Skin Temperature Aware Power Management that basically means it is allowing processors to run a higher temperatures so long as it's not burning users' lap. It's a small tweak, but by caring less about the internal temperature of the chip makes it easier to squeeze another 10% of added power performance.

Add in the 12% performance increase from reliability tracking and another quarter percent from Shadow Pstates (a frequency and voltage operating point), and you have the makings of a much more capable APU indeed.

There's no word on when or in what laptops Bristol Ridge will first appear, but we expect to hear more from AMD soon.

Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee was a former computing reporter at TechRadar. Kevin is now the SEO Updates Editor at IGN based in New York. He handles all of the best of tech buying guides while also dipping his hand in the entertainment and games evergreen content. Kevin has over eight years of experience in the tech and games publications with previous bylines at Polygon, PC World, and more. Outside of work, Kevin is major movie buff of cult and bad films. He also regularly plays flight & space sim and racing games. IRL he's a fan of archery, axe throwing, and board games.