AMD Launches Powerful New Laptop Chips
Advanced micro-systems (NASDAQ: AMD) made a splash in the laptop market last year with its range of Ryzen 4000 Mobile processors. The chips were built on the company’s Zen 2 architecture and Taiwan SemiconductorThe 7nm manufacturing process, delivering outstanding performance and effectively competing with the products of chip giant Intelligence (NASDAQ: INTC).
Once a significant number of laptops became available, AMD’s market share jumped. AMD’s chips accounted for 20.2% of laptops sold in the third quarter of 2020, according to Mercury Research as reported by Tom’s Hardware, up from 14.7% for the same period in 2019.
At CES 2021 tech show on Tuesday, AMD announced the next iteration of its Ryzen laptop processors. The Ryzen 5000 Mobile series uses the company’s latest Zen 3 architecture, the same architecture used for AMD’s newest desktop chips. The new chips use the same 7nm manufacturing process as their predecessors, so the performance jump will likely be smaller this time around.
AMD’s Ryzen 5000 Mobile family includes 13 processors. Interestingly, the two lower-end chips are built on AMD’s older Zen 2 architecture, which might cut costs. The lowest-end Zen 3 processor is the 6-core, 12-thread Ryzen 5 5600U, while the top-tier processor is the 8-core, 16-thread Ryzen 9 5980HX.
Processors with the HX designation are intended for gamers and creators. AMD claims that the Ryzen 9 5980HX processor offers up to 23% better single-threaded performance and up to 17% better multithreaded performance than the latest generation Ryzen 9 4900H processor.
Below the HX series in terms of performance is the H series, with these processors using a little less power and having slower clock speeds. The HS series further reduces power consumption and the U series targets laptops where efficiency and battery life are just as important as raw performance.
AMD is making big promises for these U-series chips. The company claims that the Ryzen 5800U, an 8-core chip that should find its way into some high-end ultra-notebooks, delivers 16% better single-thread performance and performance. 14% more multithreaded than the latest generation Ryzen 7 4800U. . Battery life also needs to be solid, with up to 17.5 hours of general-purpose battery life and up to 21 hours of movie playback.
AMD expects the first Ryzen 5000 Mobile laptops to be available in the first quarter, with more than 150 laptops slated to launch in 2021 with the new chips.
Unlike the desktop processor market where AMD can sell its chips to those who build their own PCs, the laptop market is forcing AMD to convince original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to design systems around its chips. While AMD’s products have caught up to Intel in performance, Intel chips still power around 80% of laptops sold. For consumers who don’t follow the industry and are unfamiliar with technology, buying an Intel-based laptop is the path of least resistance.
Intel has unveiled its own laptop processors in recent days. Intel’s Tiger Lake-H series won’t compete with AMD’s best. Instead, processors will power devices that aim to deliver decent gaming performance as well as good battery life. Intel’s more powerful Tiger Lake laptop processors are not yet available.
AMD is expected to continue to gain market share this year, but what it gains depends on the degree of OEM adoption of its products. Intel has no problem selling laptop chips in the midst of the pandemic – volumes were up 25% year-over-year for the company in the third quarter. AMD will have to overcome Intel’s inertia in the laptop market, which will be easier said than done.
Market share gains will not necessarily translate into higher stock prices for AMD. AMD shares are historically expensive after a strong performance in 2020, with stocks trading at over 100 times earnings. While AMD the company will likely do well this year, AMD action is another story.
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