AMD Launches Zen 2-based Ryzen and Athlon 7020C Series For Chromebooks
Last year, AMD unveiled their entry-level ‘Mendicino’ mobile parts to the market, which combine their 2019 Zen 2 cores and their RDNA 2.0 integrated graphics to create an affordable selection of configurations for mainstream mobile devices. Although much of the discussion over the last few months has been about their Ryzen 7040 mobile parts, AMD has launched four new SKUs explicitly designed for the Chromebook space, the Ryzen and Athlon 7020C series.
Some of the most notable features of AMD’s Ryzen/Athlon 7020C series processors for Chromebooks include three different configurations of cores and threads, ranging from entry-level 2C/2T up to 4C/8T, all with AMD’s RDNA 2-based Radeon 610M mobile integrated graphics. Designed for a wide variety of tasks and users, including and not limited to consumers, education, and businesses, AMD’s Ryzen 7020C series looks to offer similar specifications and features to their regular 7020 series mobile parts but expands things to the broader Chromebook and ChromeOS ecosystem too.
Quickly recapping last year’s AMD Mendocino mobile parts, AMD launched four SKUs with Zen 2 cores and RDNA 2 integrated graphics. Much like the AMD Mendocino series for Chromebooks that AMD has announced, their generic Ryzen/Athlon 7020 parts for mobile devices range from two entry-level 2C/2T and 2C/4T parts up to two beefier 4C/8T parts, all with AMD’s Radeon 610M ‘Mendocino’ integrated graphics.
The top tier Ryzen 7020 series CPU, the Ryzen 5 7520U, has 4C/8T, with a base frequency of 2.8 GHz and a 1T boost frequency of up to 4.3 GHz. Similar in specification but slightly slower, the Ryzen 3 7320U has the same 4C/8T but with a 2.4 GHz base and 4.1 GHz 1T boost core clock speed, while both share the same 4 MB of L3 cache.
The other two chips, Althon Gold 7220U and Athlon Silver 7120U were again similar, but the Athlon Gold 7220U has Simultaneous Multithreaded (SMT) enabled, giving it 2C/4T instead of 2C/2T. All of AMD’s Ryzen/Athlon 7020 series processors also have a TDP of 15 W, making them more suitable for less intensive workloads and lower-powered solutions where things like extending battery life on the go are more important than raw compute power.
AMD Ryzen/Athlon 7020C Series: Mendocino For Chromebooks
Interestingly, the Ryzen/Athlon 7020C series is also based on AMD’s Mendocino graphics and TSMC’s 6 nm node, and the specifications between the 7020C and 7020 series are virtually identical. The only real difference between both sets of Mendocino chips is that the 7020C SKUs are designed specifically for ChromeOS. At the same time, the regular 7020 series caters to Microsoft Windows-based mobile devices such as notebooks.
|AMD Ryzen 7020 C-Series Lineup|
|Ryzen 5 7520C||4C / 8T||2.8 GHz||4.3 GHz||2MB L2 + 4MB L3||Radeon 610M||15 W|
|Ryzen 3 7320C||4C / 8T||2.4 GHz||4.1 GHz||2MB L2 + 4MB L3||Radeon 610M||15 W|
|Athlon Gold 7220C||2C / 4T||2.4 GHz||3.7 GHz||1MB L2 + 4MB L3||Radeon 610M||15 W|
|Athlon Silver 7120C||2C / 2T||2.4 GHz||3.5 GHz||1MB L2 + 2MB L3||Radeon 610M||15 W|
Starting at the top of the stack, the AMD Ryzen 5 7520C is a 4C/8T part with a 2.8 GHz base and a 4.3 GHz 1T boost clock frequency. The Ryzen 3 7320C is very similar to the Ryzen 5 7520C, but it’s slightly slower, with a base core frequency of 2.4 GHz (400 MHz less) and a 1T boost frequency of 4.1 GHz (200 MHz less). Each core has a dedicated 512 KB of L1 cache, so the 4C/8T parts have a total L2 cache of 2 MB and a shared 4 MB pool of L3 cache.
Moving down the stack, we have the Athlon Gold 7220C, a 2C/4T part with a combined total of 1 MB of L2 cache, and this specific SKU has the same 4 MB pool of L3 cache available to it. It has a 2.4 GHz base frequency, with a 1T boost frequency of up to 3.7 GHz. Last but not least, the entry-level Athlon Silver 7120C doesn’t benefit from SMT, so it’s essentially a 2C/2T chip with the same base frequency of 2.4 GHz as the Athlon Gold variant but with a slightly slower 1T boost frequency of 3.5 GHz (200 MHz less).
While TDP is an enigmatic term, it’s always a good indication of where power will likely sit from a manufacturer’s standpoint. All four of AMD’s Ryzen/Athlon 7020C series processors for ChromeOS use their RDNA 2.0-based Radeon 610M integrated graphics, which has 2 x CUs with a total of 128 shader cores that are clocked at 1.9 GHz. Although the Radeon 610M isn’t primarily designed for gaming due to the low number of shader cores. For reference, the Ryzen 7020/7020C series features the same integrated graphics found on the higher-end Zen 4 based Ryzen 9 7945HX 16C/32T mobile processor, which requires discrete graphics to unleash the additional bandwidth benefits from PCIe 5.0 and PCIe 4.0 graphics chips. .
In the case of the 7020C series, all four SKUs have a TDP of 15 W set by AMD, which means these chips are focused on delivering more efficiency, which is critical in things such as extending battery life, which is vital in a mobile device .
Despite both sets of the Mendocino-based Ryzen and Athlon 7020/C series processors featuring the exact specifications, there’s one key and critical difference. This comes via Security features, and as it’s to be expected, a device designed for Microsoft’s Windows operating system has different requirements and needs from something like ChromeOS. We reached out to AMD to find out what differences there are in integrated security, with AMD stating the following:
“These (7020C series) are the ChromeOS versions of the Mendocino processors launched for Windows last year. They do share the same specs. However, the 7020C Series is optimized for ChromeOS, including different fusing specifically for ChromeOS security features. Hence the 7020U series cannot be used for Chromebooks”.
Other features of AMD’s Mendocino-based 7020C series processors include support for up to three external 4K60 displays, with the capability to support Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 devices; this is something the Chromebook vendors will implement through controllers. Like the Ryzen/Athlon 7020 series, the 7020C series also supports the lower-powered LPDDR5 memory, which concerning JEDEC, is LPDDR5-5500 in dual channel mode for the Mendocino-based chips. We asked for further clarification from AMD on what this fusing of security features entails, but AMD declined to comment or share additional details.
As is typical with a new launch, AMD did provide some in-house performance figures, but we usually take these with a pinch of salt without emphasizing them too much. Within AMD’s slide deck, the AMD to AMD performance comparisons were comparing the Ryzen 3 7320C against the Ryzen 3 3250C, which is, in fact, two generations old; the previous generation designed for Chromebooks was the 5025C series. AMD also compared performance against Arm-based MediaTek Kompanio chips and an Intel Core i3-N305 processor.
Regarding the broader claims made, AMD claims a 1.8x uplift in performance on average compared with Arm’s IP, with up to 15% ‘better’ performance on average against the competition on the x86 CISC. AMD also claims leadership in battery life. However, as it is widely down to notebook and Chromebook vendors to optimize through its batteries and power-saving mechanisms, it’s a much harder metric to judge from a platform standpoint.
In addition to their announcement of the Ryzen and Athon 7020C series for Chromebooks, AMD has also announced two new Chromebooks with its partners based on the 7020C series. One of these is the Dell Lattitude 3445 Chromebook, which is powered by the AMD 7020C series processors, with support for up to 256 GB of SSD, 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) of LPDDR5 memory, and with integrated support for Wi-Fi 6 and BT 5.2 devices.
The second Chromebook to be announced is the ASUS Chromebook CM34 Flip (CM3401), which has a 14″ 16:10 aspect ratio touchscreen display with an optional one-touch fingerprint sensor and is powered by up to and including the Ryzen 5 7520C processor. The ASUS CM34 Flip also has an integrated FHD webcam with a privacy shutter and supports Wi-Fi 6 wireless connectivity and BT 5.2 devices.
Both the Dell Lattitude 3445 and ASUS CM34 Flip (CM3401) are expected to release sometime in Q2 2023, with other devices from AMD’s partners expected to launch new Chromebooks with Ryzen/Athlon 7020C series processors around the same time.
At the time of writing, neither AMD nor their Chromebook partners have provided any indications on prices or other model specifications or configurations. As we’ve mentioned, AMD’s Ryzen and Athlon 7020C series for Chromebooks are expected to launch and hit retail shelves sometime in Q2 2023.
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