AMD made minor additions to its dedicated GPU and processor lineups at its CES press conference this morning, but the biggest announcement was the introduction of new Ryzen 6000 series laptop APUs. These chips use a new Zen 3+ CPU architecture and manufacturing process, but most importantly, their integrated graphics processors swap the years old Vega architecture for the modern RDNA2 architecture used in Radeon 6000 series graphics cards, the latest Xbox – and PlayStation consoles, and the upcoming Steam Deck.
AMD says the new chips will be released in February 2022, with more laptops being released “all year round.”
The Ryzen H, HS, and HX series chips are all 35W and 45W processors for gaming laptops and workstations, and they have faster CPU and GPU clock speeds than the U chips. -series. The Ryzen 5 6600U and Ryzen 7 6800U have TDPs between 15 and 28W, which can be adjusted by laptop manufacturers based on how much cooling they can provide – the higher the TDP, the longer the CPUs can run at their peak speeds. All Ryzen 9 and Ryzen 7 models feature Radeon 680M GPUs with 12 GPU cores, while the Ryzen 5 models use weaker Radeon 660M GPUs with 6 GPU cores.
The Zen 3+ CPU architecture uses a new 6nm manufacturing process from TSMC instead of the 7nm process most Zen 3 processors use. Fast SSDs will benefit from PCI Express 4.0 support, a first for AMD’s APUs. And the new chips support DDR5 RAM across the board, which will provide more memory bandwidth for both the CPU and GPU (although there’s no DDR4 support at all, making these systems more expensive and harder to upgrade in the short term).
The integrated RDNA2 GPUs support hardware-accelerated ray tracing and DirectX 12 Ultimate, just like dedicated RDNA2 cards do. AMD says they perform “up to 2.1 times faster” than the Vega GPUs that come with the 5000 series APUs, allowing “the vast majority of games” to run smoothly at 1080p. The Radeon 600 branding is actually inherited from a much older GPU lineup for laptops introduced in 2019, which says something about how AMD is trying to position it: not at the level of a full-fat Radeon RX 6000 series chip, but completely obviates the need for the low-cost, better-than-integrated layer of mobile GPUs.
Finally, the Ryzen 6000 chips all include a Microsoft Pluton security processor, intended to make Windows 10 and Windows 11 PCs more secure. Pluton is designed to standardize firmware-level security updates so that they can be installed through Windows Update. Pluton also provides an emulated TPM for Windows that has the same benefits as a separate hardware or firmware TPM, but eliminates the communication bus between the CPU and the TPM. This removes an attack surface that could otherwise be exploited by people with physical access to your computer.
AMD is also offering some less exciting iterative improvements to its Ryzen 5000 series laptop APU lineup. The Ryzen 3 5425U, Ryzen 5 5625U and Ryzen 7 5825U add 100MHz to the peak clock speeds and add a little extra L3 cache to the Ryzen 5400U, 5600U and 5800U respectively. They all still use the original Zen 3 CPU architecture and Vega GPU architecture.