A few days ago, I wrote about Arm's Cortex-X1 cores, which will finally bring high performance to Arm. Now, we have a rumour circulating that AMD is preparing a mobile SoC. Now, while the source has a track record, I'm going to assume it's fake. But the prospect is tantalizing and worth discussing! More about the leak here: https://www.techpowerup.com/267935/amd-ryzen-c7-smartphone-soc-specifications-listed
First, a brief history. AMD (then ATI) used to have a mobile GPU division, which they sold to Qualcomm for peanuts in the late 2000s. Qualcomm got the deal of the century there, for sure. Fun fact - Qualcomm's Adreno brand is an anagram for AMD's Radeon! Meanwhile, AMD has also dabbled with Arm in servers, with Opteron A1100. Those didn't do to well, and AMD chose to focus on Zen and x86 instead. Last year, we heard that Samsung will be licensing AMD's RDNA2 GPU architecture for use in their flagship Exynos SoCs that ship in the Galaxy series phones.
All of that taken together, it would seem quite plausible that AMD is going to give the whole mobile SoC thing a shot. Most Android manufacturers have been starved for options - it's pretty much Qualcomm everywhere. Huawei and Samsung tends to use their SoCs on their own phones, and besides, American companies can't use Huawei's silicon anyway. Mediatek is the only other option, and even though they have pretty good products, they just don't have the marketing might and capacity of Qualcomm. Nvidia has pretty much given up. Is there room for a second player to come in?
Probably not. But here's a wildcard - Microsoft is taking Windows on Arm seriously, and seems to be forming close ties with AMD. They are even releasing an Android phone later this year. Currently, the Windows devices using Arm are all Qualcomm-based through and through, but knowing Microsoft they would absolutely want alternatives. AMD powers Xbox, and recently Microsoft shipped Surface Laptop 3 with AMD's CPUs too - a collaboration that's destined to grow with future products. So, what if this new AMD SoC powers the next Surface Pro X and other Windows on Arm products? After all, the RDNA2 GPU is fully compatible with DX12 Ultimate, a major boost over Qualcomm's mobile-oriented Adreno architecture.
The specifications of what is titled the "AMD Ryzen C7" is pretty damn interesting. There's 2x Cortex X1 cores, 2x Cortex A78 cores, and 4x energy saving Cortex A55 cores. That should make for quite a powerful device - certainly enough for most desktop usage. Certainly not a workstation, but then it's a mobile SoC. The centerpiece is, of course, the GPU. As mentioned before, we have a cutting edge RDNA 2 GPU with the same base architecture as next-gen consoles. While the PS5 will ship with a 36 core GPU, this SoC will feature 4 cores at 1/3rd the clock speed. While that may sound unimpressive, remember this is a mobile SoC! This will definitely offer class-leading GPU performance, claimed to be nearly 50% faster than the high-end Qualcomm today. Of course, being RDNA 2, it fully supports DX 12 Ultimate features like ray-tracing and variable rate shading - something no mobile GPU can boast of.
So, is it real? Who knows? Probably not. Is it plausible? Sure. Even if it is fake, we'll see those RDNA 2 GPUs show up in Samsung's SoCs, which will be pretty exciting in itself.
PS: My first post in the StemSocial community! Not entirely sure if it's on topic, but I think it's definitely technology related.