Over the years, AMD APUs have seen a significant improvement in terms of performance, both at the CPU and GPU level. I remember when the Sunnyvale company talked about this type of solution, their idea was very interesting, since it involves uniting CPU and GPU in a single package, but the result was quite mediocre, due to the low performance offered by the K10 architecture (CPU) with between one and two cores and the weak shader configuration of your GPU (60 to 384 shaders based on Radeon HD 6000 series).
Although his debut was modest it was clear that AMD APUs had a lot of potential, it was only necessary find a truly balanced design that could offer a good user experience at specific levels. I personally think that AMD’s greatest success in this regard came with the semi-custom APUs used on PS4 and Xbox One, based on the Jaguar architecture at the CPU level (low performance, but eight cores in total) and a GPU based on the GCN architecture (1,152 shaders and 768 shaders, respectively).
The next turning point that AMD APUs experienced came with integration of Zen cores in the CPU and the Radeon Vega architecture on the GPU. There was a significant jump in CPU performance, thanks to the increase in IPC brought by the Zen architecture, and also significantly improved performance at the CPU level. Today, using the Zen 2 architecture, Ryzen 4000 series APUs are available in configurations of up to 8 cores and 16 threads, and have an IPC at the level of the latest generation Intel Core, but they keep the Vega GPU.
The GPU is the big pending account of AMD APUs
We wanted to do this little historical review of the evolution that AMD APUs have experienced so that you can clearly see that the Sunnyvale company has a problem, and unfortunately This will not have a solution until 2022, according to the latest information that we have been able to see.
The performance that AMD APUs have experienced at the CPU level has been enormous. Ryzen 2000 series APUs equipped with first generation Zen processors outperformed the previous generation IPC, based on Excavator (derived from Bulldozer) by 40%, approximately, and on top of that they had SMT technology, which allowed them to manage a process and a thread.
However, the evolution in GPU performance has been much less. AMD has maintained virtually identical shader settings, and the improvements have been limited to playing with the working frequencies and the supported DirectX 12 functions. Ideally, AMD would have made the leap to RDNA architecture with Ryzen 4000 Series APUs, but sadly, that was not the case.
We all asked ourselves the same question, when will AMD APUs make the leap to RDNA architecture? Sunnyvale’s company has said nothing about it., but as we anticipate a leaked roadmap indicates that it won’t happen until 2022. This means that Zen 3-based Ryzen 5000 APUs will continue to use Vega GPUs, and that they will be the Ryzen 6000 APUs, based on Zen 4, those that finally change graphic architecture.
We don’t know if they will use cores RDNA or RDNA 2, but for dates the most sensible thing would be to make the jump directly to the second. These new APUs should come manufactured in 5nm process, and will have DDR5 memory support.