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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  • Frumious1 - Thursday, January 8, 2015 - link

    When you're talking about a premium laptop like the XPS 13 that Dell will sell for $1500, Dell has no real interest in dropping the price lower as they're charging for a premium experience. If they could save $200 on the costs, would they really pass that on to the end user? But then if performance is also worse in a variety of applications, or power use is higher, then there's no incentive to design the device in the first place.

    Let's say the BoM for the new XPS 13 is around half the price ($750), and with Broadwell-U it's certainly not going to be too slow in anything other than gaming and maybe not even that. What would the BoM costs be if Dell switched to Kaveri or in the future, Carrizo? $650 maybe, but then there's more work to be done since Dell already has a huge catalog of Intel experience to draw on, meaning properly optimizing power and other aspects for AMD laptops would likely cost them more man hours. Note that if they had a large selection of AMD-based products, e.g. like HP, it's easier to build from that, but Dell doesn't.

    Now, if we just double the BoM and it's $1300 vs. $1500, maybe a few people would be interested, but I would bet heavily that anyone willing to spend $1300 on a premium laptop would also be willing to pay $200 more since it's only a 15% increase in total cost, assuming the end product is perceived as being better (e.g. more battery life, performance, reliability, etc.)

    In other words, there are financial, political, technical, and social reasons that AMD has to overcome to make headway into the laptop market. What they're mostly offering is a financial incentive, with a bit of a technical incentive. For most OEMs, it's not enough to want to target anything more than budget AMD laptops. Even if AMD outright paid for (subsidized) the creation and release of a high quality laptop, all that would really give them is one design win. It could end up being a great laptop, but AMD can't keep subsidizing the sales of their laptops indefinitely. And Intel can always answer in kind.

    Basically, you need a laptop that can stand on its own two feet if you're going up against Intel. Because Intel can always subsidize more if they want to. And really, despite the AMD fanboys saying otherwise, I have not seen any laptops with AMD APUs that are really any more compelling than Intel alternatives. This whole APUs having better GPUs talk is rubbish, as the only reason I continue to find for having a good GPU is gaming. And now H.265 decoding, apparently, which most of us have tried to do... never.
    Reply
  • Lcs - Friday, January 9, 2015 - link

    yes yes AMD needs to have some TV commercial so people won't be brain Horst every time they walk to work Best Buy or our office repo because I've been around before the first thing it would look at is the Intel in the guys don't tell him crap so what I do if I'm there I'll explain it to thats what needs to be done than I am to be much better than it is now I'm still am a handyman and always will be Reply
  • akamateau - Friday, January 9, 2015 - link

    In Project Discovery AMD had a mature design. All of the media was impressed and coments were made to Lisa Su AMD's Global Opertions Executive at the time and her comment was the Tablet would NOT be available.

    AMD had a real opportunity here to bring their own AMD branded Tablet to market fresh off the heels of stellar reviews and she bungled it.

    9 months later AMD reports an earnigs short fall of $47 million dollars and their stock tanks and Lisa Su announces lay-offs of about 700 folks.

    I can not help but wonder just what a few hundred thousand Tablets could have done to the AMD bottom line?

    Walmart has 11,000 stores. A deal with Walmart to accept 10 units per store per quarter @ $500 per unit generates $55MILLION in revenue per quarter. So maybe not Walmart, take a page from nVidia Shield and sell direct to the consumer from the website.

    Just do SOMETHING.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, January 9, 2015 - link

    11000 stores at 10 laptops each for $500 is $55 million gross. If the laptop costs $350 each to manufacture (and making 110K laptops would be quite a lot for most laptops!), and Walmart has to have their margins as well, AMD would be lucky to earn $50 per laptop sold. That would be $5.5 million in revenue, and that's only assuming you actually move product. Reply
  • Anthonykarrl - Friday, January 9, 2015 - link

    AMD suck, eversince. So what's the point comparing their new iGPU with intel's iGPU? Does anyone really care about it? Well maybe i think to non-enthusiast and non geek to computer stuff. My point is that the known market of the two companies is the processor not the GPU. Well, AMD tried to suck the gpu technologies into there processor but hey, we are talking about processor performance, efficiency and productivity to may account on saving money and time. Reply
  • BehindEnemyLines - Friday, January 9, 2015 - link

    People care because of AMD major push for HSA where a workload can be accelerated with the unity of CPU+GPU working together. Windows 10 HSA is obviously designed with this in mind. Look at AMD having native hardware support for H.265 while Intel won't have this until Skylake. Reply
  • BlueBlazer - Sunday, January 25, 2015 - link

    Intel already added hardware H.265 to Broadwell and Haswell also. See http://techreport.com/news/27677/new-intel-igp-dri...

    There's also the optimized H.265 decoders for Intel Atom. See https://software.intel.com/en-us/blogs/2014/05/19/...
    Reply
  • BehindEnemyLines - Friday, January 9, 2015 - link

    HSA enabled hardwar and software is a beast. http://wccftech.com/amd-kaveri-i54670k-benchmarks-... Reply
  • medi01 - Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - link

    Intel GPUs suck, eversince.
    What's the point comparing AMDs excellent APUs to Intel's crappy iGPUs?
    Reply
  • Anthonykarrl - Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - link

    I got baffled abit with this arguement. if you are geeky kind in tech, you would prefer to have your laptop with discreet GPU. I wouldn't mind about APU unless you are kind of a low budget side because of it's two in one feature. Okay yes, it show's a good side when it comes to it's iGPU. But what about the power of it's processor? Does it compete with the intel's core i series?

    And yes, i would agree more with intel's iGPU suck. but clearly, processing capabilities of core i series is far more, i mean a big gap when it comes to efficiency and speed.
    Reply

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