AMD’s next-generation APUs, codenamed Renoir, will be 7nm chips featuring Zen 2 architecture, but there's fresh speculation that the processors will run with Vega 10 graphics, as opposed to Navi (AMD’s latest graphics solution, which was previously rumored for Renoir).
We should make clear upfront that this is far from a certainty, and is based on conclusions drawn from sifting through a new load of patches just released for the Linux driver for the incoming APU, as reported by Phoronix (opens in new tab). (Incidentally, APU – Accelerated Processing Unit – is AMD’s fancy-sounding name for a processor with integrated graphics).
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The speculation is based on patches that point to Vega integrated graphics, rather than Navi, but the code which was scrutinized merely indicates this, rather than definitely ruling out Navi.
Navi could still be incoming with Renoir, then, but the argument runs that perhaps Vega represented a palatable shortcut here when AMD first began putting together these APUs. In other words, thinking about launch schedules, getting Navi on board would take longer, and potentially have pushed the release out to much later next year.
The theory is that Renoir with Vega graphics might be delivered in a far more timely fashion in 2020, based around what’s potentially going on here. The current-gen Picasso chips were launched at the very start of 2019, so perhaps AMD has the same goal for the beginning of next year.
That’s a positive way of framing it anyway – Vega is efficient enough to do the job, and Renoir will be arriving sooner as a result. Arguably, AMD doesn’t actually need to stretch itself too much compared to Intel’s (10nm) Ice Lake chips anyway – Picasso is already competitive against these rival processors. So perhaps Navi was viewed as overkill, anyway – and simply making the big move to Zen 2 is regarded as enough?
Particularly given that in TechRadar’s most recent chinwags with Intel, we’ve heard the chip giant indicate that it intends to push harder with integrated graphics – so therefore AMD shouldn’t be taking any chances whatsoever.
Bear firmly in mind, of course, that all the above speculation could be off the mark, and Navi might still be on board Renoir when it launches. We’ll just have to see.
One final point to note here is that if Renoir is going with Vega, according to Phoronix’s uncovered details it will use VCN (Video Core Next) 2.0, as opposed to VCN 1.0 as seen on current Picasso APUs. So we should expect considerably better video encoding performance on the new chips.
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