AMD to consider chiplet design for mainstream mobile APUs once it’s more cost-effective and power-efficient

Published: Oct 27th 2023, 11:55 GMT   Comments

AMD’s chiplet strategy in laptops: balancing innovation and power efficiency.

AMD says that chiplet design for mainstream mobile APUs is challenging due to power constraints. 

The chiplet approach has been instrumental in the success of the Ryzen CPU series. In the domain of laptops, AMD is still evaluating how to approach this idea. During a recent media discussion in South Korea (attended by QuasarZone), AMD faced questions about the potential incorporation of chiplets into mainstream laptop APUs. The company, however, remains hesitant to embrace this prospect for a compelling reason – power efficiency.

AMD is of the view that chiplet designs come with a power consumption drawback, which might not align with all laptop categories. The ultramobile or lightweight laptop category typically operates within power envelopes of 15 to 30W, and in this domain, AMD continues to rely solely on monolithic designs. Presently, it appears that AMD has no immediate plans to introduce chiplets into this specific market segment.

Question: While AMD has succeeded in the desktop market through its chiplet architecture, it maintains a single-chip, monolithic structure in the laptop market. I’m curious about the reasons why this chiplet architecture has not been introduced in the laptop market, especially in the ultramobile market.

Answer (translated): When developing products, we consider both monolithic and chiplet structures, for both desktops and laptops. However, in the case of laptops, the introduction of chiplets is challenging due to power constraints. There is a power penalty to be paid when adopting chiplets, so it seems that the timing to introduce chiplets would be when it is deemed worth accepting that penalty.

So far, considering these factors, the results have shown that in the laptop market, a monolithic structure is more cost-effective and efficient than chiplets. If there is an incentive to move away from this in the future, we may consider chiplets.

— David McAfee, Corporate VP and General Manager, Client Channel Business at AMD

McAfee’s response primarily pertains to mainstream APU designs. It’s worth noting that AMD has already introduced ‘chiplets’ for laptops in the form of the Dragon Range systems. These systems represent a fusion of desktop and mobile elements, essentially encapsulating a Raphael desktop package on a BGA socket. However, it’s important to recognize that these series aren’t optimized for the same level of power efficiency as the Phoenix chips, which feature a monolithic design.

While the introduction of chiplets for laptops raises valid concerns, there are also noteworthy advantages. Intel has already incorporated chiplets in their mobile series, and they are on the verge of unveiling a fully disaggregated design called Meteor Lake. This CPU will comprise up to four distinct tiles, encompassing GPU, SoC, CPU, and IO. One distinctive aspect of Intel’s approach is the ability to swap out tiles or scale them, enabling upgrades to the CPU or GPUs based on specific requirements or system capabilities.

Although mainstream laptops may not see AMD chiplets in the near future, AMD is planning to introduce more potent chiplet designs for premium systems. The Strix Halo and Fire Range exemplify such products. One emphasizes a high-performance integrated GPU, while the other places greater emphasis on CPU architecture, leaving graphics to external discrete solutions. The mainstream segment will have to wait, though.

RUMORED AMD Ryzen 8000 Series
VideoCardz.comHawk PointStrix PointFire RangeStrix Halo/SarlakGranite Ridge
TargetMainstream APUPremium APUHigh-end APUUltimate APUDesktop CPU
TypeMonolithicMonolithicMulti ChipletMulti ChipletMulti Chiplet
Ryzen SeriesRyzen 8040Ryzen 8050Ryzen 8055TBCRyzen 8000
CPU Cores8× Zen412C (4×Zen5 + 8×Zen5c)16× Zen516× Zen516× Zen5
Default TDP~28-54W~28-54W~55-75W~55-120W~65-170W

Source: QuasarZone

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