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Discussion AMD failure in notebooks really was due to giving igps priority over cpu?

Shivansps

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Sep 11, 2013
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Ok i wanted to make this thread to discuss about this matter ever since people started chearing when AMD cut down the IGP in Renoir with some people thinking that the idea was giving "CPU higher priority because IGP priority gave nothing to AMD".

Im going to go back several years to the first notebook i ever had, the MSI U230, this was the time that in small factors your choices were a increible slow Atom CPU+useless IGP, the ION platform (Intel Atom + Nvidia chipset with a OK igp), later replaced with the ION2 platform when Intel did not allowed Nvidia to make chipsets anymore, ION2 was Intel Atom+Intel chipset+Nvidia ION2 gpu in a x1 PCI-E connection used via optimus, and finally AMD Yukon platform, with AMD Neo CPUs (it were the same CPUs but with lower clocks and voltage).
The MSI U230 as one of the best you could get in the Yukon platform, with a dual core L335 and a RS780 chipset with a HD3200 IGP, AMD was having far more CPU perf than the ATOMs, and the HD3200 was hand to hand with the IONs, because the HD3200 was a little slower than Nvidia ION GPUs(specially ION2 that had VRAM), but the CPU perf difference was way too high, so in gaming the HD3200 was better, specially with dual channel, only the ION2 was at top a few times.

Then AMD came up with i think it is the worst they ever did, the small cores. The first APU was the E-350 that was a Dual Core with Bobcat cores and a integrated HD6310 (it was a HD5450 in a IGP), but with single channel ram.
I went ahead and brought one, a HP DM1z, i was planning to give my U230 away and replace it the DM1z... You guys have no idea how dissapointed i was with the DM1z, the Bobcat cores were slower than the ones in the L335, and the IGP was held back by the single channel ram, resulting only in a very small jump gaming in performace. Only batery life were about 1 hour longer.
And thats was the last notebook i owned, by that time i was already working in a computer distrubutor with access to a lot of notebooks and general hardware.

Everything went downhill there, Intel did a far better job in keeping OEMs from using the worthless Atom off the mainstream notebooks(until Baytrail), but AMD small cores were not restricted to small factors and started to go in every type of notebook, this damaged AMD image A LOT, because performance was BAD, really, really bad, even in IGP has Intel HD3000 was outperforming the 80CU IGP in the small core APUs. The small cores are a problem even today as unsold Carrizo-L and Stoney Ridge notebooks models are still around, even with a SSD these things feel slow. And SSD arent common on those models.

And that was not the only problem i saw, the number of small core notebooks was hidding the big core AMD APU models, the big core APU models became rare, but they did a lot better in performance vs the Intel notebooks, but even big cores APUs had both CPU and GPU performance problems vs Intel, as well as using more power. At the end AMD did not had a clear GPU lead over Intel in big cores in notebooks either.

This changed only with the first Ryzen Mobile APUs, but they still had turbo and power efficiency issues that AMD fixed in Renoir.
So what i think is was never about giving the IGP priority, it was about the mistakes they did with the small cores, and they never had a clear lead on the mobile big core APUs either.
 

dullard

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May 21, 2001
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AMD's biggest problem was always focusing on the price. People and OEMs associated AMD with low prices. Thus over the decades you rarely (if ever) got an OEM AMD computer with high-end components. They can make the best CPU in the world, but after decades of convincing consumers that they are bargain basement CPUs, they just never could take hold.

ARM needs to reenvision itself around quality, not price. Then they have a chance with servers, high-end workstations, great laptops, etc. This is a marketing task, not an engineering task. Here is just one of many websites with the same advice:

ARM and Zhaoxin (and others) will swoop in with quite capable lower cost CPUs. If low price is the only market AMD really has a grasp on, then what is left for AMD when this happens?
 
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beginner99

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No, it was their weak CPUs that made their APUs "fail". (eg bulldozer-derived cores)

And now we are at 7nm with huge wafer costs so cutting down what most users do not need just makes so much sense. How often do you see people gaming on their laptops? Smartphones, yes when commuting. But on laptops? For most use even Renoir is way overpowered. As long as the GPU can't be used for anything else than graphics consistently, no point in wasting much die space for it. In fact the smartphone SOCs probably got it right with all their accelerators. decode and less so encode of video is much more useful to end-users.
 
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Markfw

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No, it was their weak CPUs that made their APUs "fail". (eg bulldozer-derived cores)

And now we are at 7nm with huge wafer costs so cutting down what most users do not need just makes so much sense. How often do you see people gaming on their laptops? Smartphones, yes when commuting. But on laptops? For most use even Renoir is way overpowered. As long as the GPU can't be used for anything else than graphics consistently, no point in wasting much die space for it. In fact the smartphone SOCs probably got it right with all their accelerators. decode and less so encode of video is much more useful to end-users.
I have to agree. Over the years, I have known quite a few gamers. And when I hosted lan parties for my son ? (and they had to bring their computers) one out of 15 had a laptop. And that was only one year, the other years it was all desktops. Go to the gaming forum ? Do you see people talking about laptops ? NO. Look at the CPU forum. How much argument was there on "what is good for gaming". You are the ONLY one I know of that appears to care about gaming on laptops.

The one exception is kids that live on campus and go to college. They get a laptop and game on it. When they graduate and get a job ? They buy a desktop and game at home.
 

A///

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Feb 24, 2017
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I have to agree. Over the years, I have known quite a few gamers. And when I hosted lan parties for my son ? (and they had to bring their computers) one out of 15 had a laptop. And that was only one year, the other years it was all desktops. Go to the gaming forum ? Do you see people talking about laptops ? NO. Look at the CPU forum. How much argument was there on "what is good for gaming". You are the ONLY one I know of that appears to care about gaming on laptops.
Agree. Gaming laptops are a super niche category. I've never seen one out in the wild outside of a store. Uttering the words gaming laptop draws you some weird looks, even by gaming crowds.

Can't imagine regular laptops being common for gamers either. It's why I found the Intel Xe Iris whatever laptops sort of funny. Sure it's got great ST, but who cares if it plays Battlefield 1 at 40 FPS @ medium settings. That's not what you use that kind of ultra thin for.
 

Shivansps

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Im not sure what a gaming laptop has to do with anything, AMD has not produced anything of the sort until Renoir.
 

Markfw

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Im not sure what a gaming laptop has to do with anything, AMD has not produced anything of the sort until Renoir.
You talk about IGP's, what else would one care about when discussing those. The most rudmentary IGP's work fine with word,excel,firefox.
 

Shivansps

Diamond Member
Sep 11, 2013
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No, it was their weak CPUs that made their APUs "fail". (eg bulldozer-derived cores)

And now we are at 7nm with huge wafer costs so cutting down what most users do not need just makes so much sense. How often do you see people gaming on their laptops? Smartphones, yes when commuting. But on laptops? For most use even Renoir is way overpowered. As long as the GPU can't be used for anything else than graphics consistently, no point in wasting much die space for it. In fact the smartphone SOCs probably got it right with all their accelerators. decode and less so encode of video is much more useful to end-users.
That was what Intel were doing until they realised they needed more IGP power, and their first attempt were the EDRAM skus.

As mobile IGP are getting faster than entry level dgpus, that Nvidia makes for a reason, no one can tell me that IGP perf is not important.

Now the problem here is balance, it always was. AMD small cores sacrificed way too much CPU power and had big IGP that they could not even use with such low perf cores and single channel memory.

As for the big cores, the mayor problem with them is that they were rare and that the CPU perf were not up to the task, but they used the best CPU cores they had along with the best GPU arch avalible, it just does not seem to me they were not focusing on CPU power, the problem was that the best they had was not enoght.
 
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Shivansps

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Sep 11, 2013
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You talk about IGP's, what else would one care about when discussing those. The most rudmentary IGP's work fine with word,excel,firefox.
What you need to realise is that Nvidia have been making low end mobile GPUs for a reason since forever, and both AMD and Intel (remember the EDRAM?) have been targeting these Nvidia gpus with their IGPs, but not to make a gaming laptop whiout a GPU.
The reason behind all this is that casual gaming is a thing, and there is a hell of a lot of people doing casual gaming in notebooks, just check the steam hardware survey, it will give you some idea. I still remember a few years ago where the most used GPU was the Intel HD4000.... and it was like that for a year or more.
 
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NTMBK

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The reason the small core chip was pushed into so many markets was because the big core chips sucked. AMD needed to sell something, and the only thing they had that was even close to viable was the Jaguar chips.

The big core APUs lagged way behind Intel in both peak performance and efficiency. Not a good combination in a laptop.
 

coercitiv

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What made their old APUs fail has little to do with what makes their current APUs succeed.

Nobody is cheering because Renoir has cut-down IGP, or even an anemic L3 for that matter, what people appreciate about Renoir is the amount of CPU and GPU performance AMD was able to extract from their IP in just 150mm2 of silicon. It can scale from 10W to 60W+ for an unprecedented range of CPU performance depending on form factor, it is probably the best compromise AMD could do to balance performance and cost in a product that can cater the entire mobile market. Ultra thin laptop? Renoir does 10W. Big gaming laptop? Renoir does 54W+.

Look at Intel's Tiger Lake: for the sake of a major leap in GPU performance they had to sacrifice CPU core count and the flexibility of efficiently scaling past 35W that comes with higher core counts, they essentially need another Tiger Lake chip to complete their H lineup. Is this worth it? For Intel likely yes, but for an underdog such as AMD who needs to spend R&D wisely and grab as much of the mobile market as possible, hell no.

There may come a day when AMD has enough market share to afford multiple mobile chips. On that occasion they may try the big iGPU strategy again, especially if they find a way around memory bottlenecks.

 

UNCjigga

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I think AMD finally got the formula right with Renoir. Ultrabooks and 2-in-1s are where the bulk of laptop sales happen these days, and IGP 3D/compute performance is almost completely irrelevant for this market. I think the only real IGP requirement is that you can drive an external 2K/4K display (ideally 2 external displays + internal) and that you can do HW decode of H.264/H.265/VP9 and eventually AV1. Battery life and thermal performance have always been more important. Intel's recent IGPs paired with U-series and Y-series chips have excelled at this, and while you might bemoan the fact Renoir uses cut down Vega cores and not Navi, Vega is perfectly suited to the job at hand.

What I would like to see in the future from AMD is support for a dedicated external I/O link of some sort that could support PCIe 4.0 x8 full bandwidth at a minimum. Intel has Thunderbolt 4, which still doesn't really cut it for modern eGPU use. If AMD can offer an APU with RDNA2 onboard that you could pair with an RDNA2 eGPU (and utilize all the CUs via some next-gen CrossFire) that would offer something unique. Why buy an ultraportable AND a gaming laptop/desktop when you can just utilize a docking station with an eGPU?
 

Markfw

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What you need to realise is that Nvidia have been making low end mobile GPUs for a reason since forever, and both AMD and Intel (remember the EDRAM?) have been targeting these Nvidia gpus with their IGPs, but not to make a gaming laptop whiout a GPU.
The reason behind all this is that casual gaming is a thing, and there is a hell of a lot of people doing casual gaming in notebooks, just check the steam hardware survey, it will give you some idea. I still remember a few years ago where the most used GPU was the Intel HD4000.... and it was like that for a year or more.
I am so sick and tired of people quoting the Steam hardware survey. Its the most biased, worthless survey ever. First, it has no relevance to actual sales or usage. Second is you have to actually choose to use it. And as I said, the only people that use them in a decent amount of numbers, are college students in the dorm. At home they use a desktop.
 
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DAPUNISHER

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Agree. Gaming laptops are a super niche category. I've never seen one out in the wild outside of a store. Uttering the words gaming laptop draws you some weird looks, even by gaming crowds.
Lulz, that has not been my experience, but whatev man.

I had a Dell G7 but sold it recently. Used it mostly for gaming when on vacations; could not pass it up for the deal I got on it. I bought entry level HP's for the wife and son a couple years back, i5 8350U and 1050ti, nvme+hdd, 16GB DDR4 2666. Again, the deal was excellent, and the model is thin and light for a gaming laptop, and the power brick is half the size and weight of the one for the G7. I won't have to deal with the laptops aging poorly for office and college use. And when they want to do some gaming on the go, they can. Think of it as better to have it and not needed it, than need it and not have it. The extra weight over something standard in the price range did not factor in. The Mrs. uses a wheeled laptop bag because she has biz stuff to lug as well, and that would have been the case even if using a Spectre x360, surface, or something. The boy lifts bro :p, so carrying it in his backpack on campus is no problem for him.
 
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NTMBK

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I am so sick and tired of people quoting the Steam hardware survey. Its the most biased, worthless survey ever. First, it has no relevance to actual sales or usage. Second is you have to actually choose to use it. And as I said, the only people that use them in a decent amount of numbers, are college students in the dorm. At home they use a desktop.
Over here, lots of young people live in rented flats. They have short term leases, and often have to move out after a year or two- either because their landlord wants to charge a new tenant more rent, or just to move up to a nicer place. When you move that often, a laptop is more appealing than a desktop and monitor that you need to lug all over the city.
 

senttoschool

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Jan 30, 2010
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AMD's biggest problem was always focusing on the price. People and OEMs associated AMD with low prices. Thus over the decades you rarely (if ever) got an OEM AMD computer with high-end components. They can make the best CPU in the world, but after decades of convincing consumers that they are bargain basement CPUs, they just never could take hold.

ARM needs to reenvision itself around quality, not price. Then they have a chance with servers, high-end workstations, great laptops, etc. This is a marketing task, not an engineering task. Here is just one of many websites with the same advice:

ARM and Zhaoxin (and others) will swoop in with quite capable lower cost CPUs. If low price is the only market AMD really has a grasp on, then what is left for AMD when this happens?
AMD never willingly chose to focus on low cost chips. They were forced to sell in the low end because their high end failed to compete with Intel and a Nvidia.
 
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A///

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Lulz, that has not been my experience, but whatev man.

I had a Dell G7 but sold it recently. Used it mostly for gaming when on vacations; could not pass it up for the deal I got on it. I bought entry level HP's for the wife and son a couple years back, i5 8350U and 1050ti, nvme+hdd, 16GB DDR4 2666. Again, the deal was excellent, and the model is thin and light for a gaming laptop, and the power brick is half the size and weight of the one for the G7. I won't have to deal with the laptops aging poorly for office and college use. And when they want to do some gaming on the go, they can. Think of it as better to have it and not needed it, than need it and not have it. The extra weight over something standard in the price range did not factor in. The Mrs. uses a wheeled laptop bag because she has biz stuff to lug as well, and that would have been the case even if using a Spectre x360, surface, or something. The boy lifts bro :p, so carrying it in his backpack on campus is no problem for him.
Your kids are college aged. Maybe it's a different story for today's college aged students. I don't make it a habit of talking to minors or those in college. :p You make a good point on aging laptops. Though shoving in an SSD into most laptops made past 2011/2012 seems to put a major spring in their step. I think a lot of laptops sold today are crap, though. Using the cheapest materials for a set price point. And, this in turn, has caused consumers to scoff at laptops that cost more than, I don't know, $1,200-1,400?

What's your son studying? He must brag about you a lot. Some of my friends kids have some tricked out custom builds that don't go to waste. Hopefully I can pass on that tradition too. One of my friends managed to order a prime PS5 and is getting the Series X, too. This is on top of a build he wants to do.
 

DAPUNISHER

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Over here, lots of young people live in rented flats. They have short term leases, and often have to move out after a year or two- either because their landlord wants to charge a new tenant more rent, or just to move up to a nicer place. When you move that often, a laptop is more appealing than a desktop and monitor that you need to lug all over the city.
You make some strong points. Life situation and country of residence play a roll. All of the Gaming Laptops I have worked on, with a couple of exceptions, has belonged to a 20 something done with school. The thing is, they seem to think traveling is the thing to do, see the world, embrace different cultures, all that jazz. That means they take their gaming with them when they go, ergo, they buy gaming laptops.
 
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A///

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AMD never willingly chose to focus on low cost chips. They were forced to sell in the low end because their high end failed to compete with Intel and a Nvidia.
Correct. If you were capable of buying a computer when AMD was knocking Intel down a few pegs years ago, then you would know they weren't the cheap option. Yes, Pentium was always expensive. But a lot of the AMD prices would make you weep. At around this time, Intel slashed their prices even though their product wasn't as good. AMD was losing market share left and right. At the same time, Intel was paying off HP and Dell to not use AMD processors, and instead use Intel's inferior processors.

Always wondered if this was retribution from Intel for them having lost their court fights against AMD and people going with AMD64 over IA-64. Realistically, a bankrupt AMD isn't good for Intel by any stretch of the imagination. Licensing would never get voided. Negotiated again, yes. But whomever purchased AMD or stepped into to bankroll them if the aforementioned didn't occur would have deep pockets. Imagine if a consortium of companies got together and aided AMD financially and with resources, so they can deliver a product better than Intel for the foreseeable future. Big time crazy talk for sure.

Not like it's needed. Intel can't tell their head from their butt right now.
 
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Insert_Nickname

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Everything went downhill there, Intel did a far better job in keeping OEMs from using the worthless Atom off the mainstream notebooks(until Baytrail), but AMD small cores were not restricted to small factors and started to go in every type of notebook, this damaged AMD image A LOT, because performance was BAD, really, really bad, even in IGP has Intel HD3000 was outperforming the 80CU IGP in the small core APUs. The small cores are a problem even today as unsold Carrizo-L and Stoney Ridge notebooks models are still around, even with a SSD these things feel slow. And SSD arent common on those models.
Bobcat + 5400RPM HDD dredges up some bad memories. Terrible. Just terrible.

Now the problem here is balance, it always was. AMD small cores sacrificed way too much CPU power and had big IGP that they could not even use with such low perf cores and single channel memory.
...and just to make matters worse, OEMs insisted on using the x64 version of Windows. Which runs like molasses on Bobcat, due to x64 instructions taking two cycles to execute. Effectively halving frequency.

Bobcat + 3-4GB RAM + SSD with an x86 OS isn't that bad for what it is.
 

dullard

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May 21, 2001
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Do they still sell laptops with 5400 rpm drives?
Yes. For example, here are Lenovo's two cheapest laptops (AMD and Intel):

But those would make me happy compared to if you happen to accidently click sort by price at Best Buy and you get a computer with just 64 GB of eMMC Memory!
 

ondma

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Mar 18, 2018
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Agree. Gaming laptops are a super niche category. I've never seen one out in the wild outside of a store. Uttering the words gaming laptop draws you some weird looks, even by gaming crowds.

Can't imagine regular laptops being common for gamers either. It's why I found the Intel Xe Iris whatever laptops sort of funny. Sure it's got great ST, but who cares if it plays Battlefield 1 at 40 FPS @ medium settings. That's not what you use that kind of ultra thin for.
What?? My grandson and several of his friends had gaming laptops. Not ultrabooks, obviously, but fairly portable conventional laptops with a discrete gpu. Did you ever walk into a Microcenter and see how many gaming laptops are for sale?
 

Markfw

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What?? My grandson and several of his friends had gaming laptops. Not ultrabooks, obviously, but fairly portable conventional laptops with a discrete gpu. Did you ever walk into a Microcenter and see how many gaming laptops are for sale?
In the grand scheme of things, total laptops wise, gaming are still niche. All the true hard core gamers that I have ever heard of, use desktops. College students and younger kids who travel will take a laptop. But overall numbers of laptop gamers is small.
 
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