AMD’s mobile and small form factor journey has been arduous. In the early 2010s, the company’s Bulldozer-derived CPU cores stood no chance as Intel made massive gains in power efficiency. Zen narrowed the gap, but AMD still had a lot of work to do. Idle power consumption was still worse than Intel’s. The GPU side was stronger thanks to AMD’s acquisition of ATI, but AMD’s integrated GPUs were often left using horribly out of date graphics architectures. Terascale 3 remained in use on APUs well after GCN discrete GPUs hit the market. AMD launched the Ryzen 7 5800H in 2021 with Vega (improved GCN) graphics, when desktop GPUs had already transitioned to using RDNA 2.
Recent AMD products have been turning the situation around. Van Gogh (Steam Deck APU) and Rembrandt finally brought RDNA 2 into integrated GPUs. Phoenix takes another step in the right direction, combining current-generation Zen 4 cores and RDNA 3 graphics into a potent package. We’d like to thank AMD for putting together an excellent Hot Chips presentation on the Phoenix SoC.
Alongside using up-to-date architectures for the all-important CPU and GPU, Phoenix integrates a variety of accelerators to improve power efficiency in specific applications. Intel had been integrating accelerators like their GNA AI accelerator for a while, and AMD is looking to catch up. An XDNA accelerator helps with machine learning inference, and an audio controller offloads signal processing from the CPU. Importantly for a mobile SoC, Phoenix also features a capable video engine.