In our visit with AMD we got to see something I wasn’t really expecting: a functioning Carrizo laptop. (Note that AMD wouldn't let us take pictures, but they did provide some pictures for us to use.) AMD apparently only received initial silicon back from the fab a few weeks back, and they already have a laptop up and running with the early hardware. In fact, not only did they have a functioning Carrizo laptop but they also had several other working Carrizo systems running Windows. Of course, last year AMD had Kaveri up and running and that launched about five months later, so we’re a bit earlier than that for Carrizo but it’s coming along nicely.

One of the features of Carrizo is full support for H.265 decoding, and as an example of why this is needed they had an Intel system running next to the Carrizo system attempting to playback a 4K H.265 video. While the AMD system was easily able to handle the task without dropping any frames, the Intel system was decoding at what appeared to be single digit frame rates. The 4K content was essentially unwatchable on Intel. Of course that’s easy enough to remedy by adding an appropriate GPU that can handle the decoding, but AMD’s point is that their APU on its own is able to do something that a high-end Intel CPU cannot do without additional hardware.

As far as other aspects, we do not have any details on the system specifications or expected final clocks. I did see the clock speed of the prototype laptop, but it’s certainly not final so there’s not much point in going into more detail. AMD also indicated that their eventual goal is to have the prototype laptop equipped with a discrete GPU for Dual Graphics support, but that isn’t in the current prototype.

In terms of using the system, we were unable to run any benchmarks or really do anything more than open Windows Explorer and the system properties. Given this is early hardware there are sure to be some kinks to get worked out over the coming months. AMD is still on track for a Q2/Q3 release of Carrizo, and we’re looking forward to seeing what the Excavator core can do in terms of performance. Also note that the GPU will be “Next Generation” GCN (from the redundant department of redundancy?), with support for DX12. It should be an interesting fall when Carrizo ships.

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  • mikato - Thursday, January 8, 2015 - link

    I can see this tech eventually getting into Roku, FireTV, AppleTV, etc eventually so they can serve up 4K and extend their advantage over the Smart TV (less)functionality that comes with TVs. Makes total sense. They are ARM now though so not sure how that would shake out. But AMD does ARM too, aha. I hope they are making a product for this segment! Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Thursday, January 8, 2015 - link

    Android supports x86, even 64-bit x86. All that's missing are graphics drivers from AMD (although not too much would need to be done to adapt the current OSS ati driver or the fglrx driver).

    With that, you could have an AMD APU-based HTPC running Android and compete quite successfully with the current gen Roku, FireTV, etc.
    Reply
  • Alexvrb - Saturday, January 10, 2015 - link

    If I have an AMD APU and my goal is an HTPC... why the HECK would I run Android on it??

    Why not Linux or Windows? So much better, more flexible, more features, more/latest media playback software. Windows/Nix version of VLC for example, far better than Android version and stays cutting edge.
    Reply
  • Alexvrb - Saturday, January 10, 2015 - link

    I hate smart TVs. If I spend good money on a TV, I plan to keep it for a good while. I'd rather upgrade the cheap box attached to it (old Roku to latest Roku 3, for example) to get the latest improvements in speed/features. If Smart TVs had some kind of a standardized removable/upgradeable board I would be down with that, but that will never happen. Reply
  • Aries1470 - Sunday, January 11, 2015 - link

    Alexvrb, never say never. There was a brief moment, in design, that a screen driver was to be permanent, but the CPU and ancillary audio with memory was to be modulated. It didn't float due to "forced obsolescence". They would not not be making as much $$ and also then would have to plan for how many "generations" they would support it, similar to Intel's strategy of the lasst 10 years, of where designs last for about 2 years max... then the software support, like codec support, websites that change format etc, how long will each model last for, and how do you factor in the price range?

    The only argument would be less landfill, but then, t.v. companies would need to change their way of marketing and selling. It will make it much harder for stores to start selling all the hardware boxes for older products, of which will just be a mess, unless they make the modules "compatible" with such and such range models of which your average joe does not want to know about or get involved. It is ok for the techies but you will need to train a huge amount of personnel in stores and then educate the purchaser etc, while currently, they just send a sofware update to keep you up to date with website support and codec's...

    I am not saying it will not happen, but it needs a huge grass roots push, like a project on kickstarter etc, while saying something like "reduce landfill" waste, don't throw out your t.v., just the 'brains behind it'...

    Ok, enough ranting now.
    Reply
  • BlueBlazer - Sunday, January 25, 2015 - link

    Intel actually has ARM-based products in secret! Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYBJYT656C0 Reply
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, January 8, 2015 - link

    Another interesting AMD mobile chip that will only end up in the shittiest of laptops.

    For some reason you never see nice laptops you might actually want to buy with AMD inside.
    Reply
  • ET - Thursday, January 8, 2015 - link

    I do think that the Thinkpad X1x0e laptops are nice, the main problem with them is the low end AMD chips. I have an X120e (E-350) and it's just too underpowered. I really hope that Carrizo being pin-compatible with Carrizo-L will mean that Lenovo releases an X150e which has both as options, and not just the low end one. I might upgrade to one in that case. Reply
  • Samus - Thursday, January 8, 2015 - link

    I had an HP DM1z and X120e over the years, and although they are underpowered for intense tasks like Hyper-V and gaming, they run Windows 7/8 quite well and the battery life is excellent with an extended battery (I got 8 hours from a 9-cell in the X120e)

    The problem with Brazos wasn't that it was underpowered, it's just what the OP said, it only appeared in crappy budget laptops. If you go back 15 years, clearly inferior chips of the day like Transmetta Crusoe and even more recently Intel Atom's appeared in higher end machines, all with terrible, often unusable performance.

    A Brazos E350 with an SSD and 4GB of RAM makes, even today, a usable machine, and the chip is 5 years old. It won't win any records with an ~850 CPU Mark score, but that's on par with an entry-level Core 2.

    Hopefully Carrizo will get the opportunity to shine in at lease mid-range hardware, perhaps models with backlit keyboards and decent screens (something Brazos never got)
    Reply
  • Starnight - Saturday, May 30, 2015 - link

    I bought a HP DM1z for my niece, replaced stock 2x2GB RAM with 2x4GB. Didn't replace HDD with SSD though. It plays 1080p videos from YouTube perfectly. Flash games and social networks make no problems. In facts I'm amazed at how a cheap dual-core AMD handles web browsing and MS Office. With SSD it would be even more usable I guess.
    So while Core i7 would make a drastic difference in video editing etc, I see no point in it for a young girl because she doesn't use Adobe of Sony software.
    The fact that stupid OEMs put E-350/E-450 in 17'' models doesn't mean AMD meant those CPUs for such scenarios.
    For an HTPC I got A8-6500T (TDP 45W) with just 2.1 GHZ clockspeed, and with 8GB RAM it's beautiful.
    Reply

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