[Forewarning: Much of the information about Raven Ridge comes from rumors – this is speculation based on reliable sources found across the web. However, rumors are still rumors. Take this article with a pinch of salt.]
A Tale of Fusion
Integrated Graphics Processing Units, found inside “Accelerated Processing Units” (APU’s) as AMD’s marketing team calls them, are quite the interesting little pieces of engineering. A CPU and GPU combined under a single package. Looking back half a decade or so, AMD claimed they’re the future of computing with their “Fusion” vision of bringing a GPU and CPU under the same die. The promise was smaller form factors, higher power efficiency, and more intelligent computing, shared between the CPU and GPU.
Intel too, with the release of their Skull Canyon NUC, made bold claims of obsoleting low end gaming graphics cards – a claim that in practice doesn’t quite come to fruition. Outside of gaming, APU’s currently dominate, providing simple graphical capability for casual users who don’t do anything graphically intensive. Browsing the web hardly takes major graphical horsepower. All of Intel’s modern non HEDT CPU’s contain an iGPU within them, therefore meaning the majority of the graphics market (Over 70% according to Jon Peddie Research), is held by them. And yet gaming remains away from the grasp of APU’s.
So what shortcomings do APU’s have to deal with that currently relegate them to bottom tier performance, excluding them from gaming, and why is Raven Ridge – AMD’s upcoming Ryzen based Quad Core with a Vega based iGPU, such a potential game changer for APU’s?
This article will explore the current state of APU’s, rumors about Raven Ridge, and predictions about the future of the gaming GPU market
Both AMD and Intel have been creating APU’s for multiple generations now, with the current top consumer APU’s available in retail being the Intel Core i7 5775C, and the AMD A10 7890K.
The i7 5775C
The i7 5775C boasts 4 Broadwell cores with hyperthreading, amounting to 8 threads, clocked at 3.3GHz base and 3.7GHz boost frequencies. The iGPU is Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200, featuring 48 EU’s (Execution Units), clocked at 1150MHz, amounting to 883 GFLOPS. The package also contains 128MB of L4 eDRAM memory
The A10 7890K
The A10 7890K contains 2 Steamroller modules, amounting to 4 cores and 4 threads, clocked at 4.1GHz base and 4.3GHz boost frequencies. The iGPU is GCN Radeon R7 series, with 512 shaders, clocked at 866MHz, amounting to 852 GFLOPS.
If we take a look at their performance, and compare them to full blown dedicated Graphics Cards, we see a massive disparity in performance, with even entry level cards like the RX 460 showing multiple hundreds of percent higher levels of horsepower. Only the most casual of gamers will find these levels of performance acceptable, with most opting to just buy a cheap CPU and entry level card for a similar price as the APU, and get a far superior experience.
The i7 5775C while performing a bit faster than the 7890K, is highly expensive for the level of graphical power it provides, currently found on Amazon for 357$. The 7890K meanwhile, is priced at 149$, which despite being half of the 5775C, is still a very high asking price when compared to a similarly priced CPU+GPU, like the 100$ RX 460 with a Pentium G4560 at 60$, which provide far higher performance.
This means the only time APU’s make sense are for power efficiency sensitive markets like laptops, and extremely small form factor PC’s like the Intel Skull Canyon NUC. In any other case, they just don’t cut it for gaming.