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HP Socket AM4 A320 Chipset OEM Motherboard Pictured

Here is perhaps the first picture of a socket AM4 motherboard up close. The HP "Willow" is a micro-ATX motherboard custom-designed by the company to deploy on several of its upcoming desktop PC models, offered initially with AMD A-series "Bristol Ridge" socket AM4 APUs. Since this is custom-built for desktops that will probably be sold under $500, the board is built to a cost. The board features AMD A320 chipset.

The picture reveals socket AM4 to have extremely fine pins, and feature a square bolt-type cooler retention mechanism similar to that of contemporary Intel sockets. It does away with the rectangular layout. The advantage of a square layout is that it allows you to orient your cooler in any direction. Since the core-logic is moved to the APU/CPU package, the remaining rump of what AMD refers to as "chipset," is just a PCIe multi-function chip that puts out additional SATA and USB ports. With its TDP under 5W, this chip can make do without a heatsink. Other noteworthy features include two DDR4 DIMM slots, a PCIe gen 3.0 x16 slot, a short M.2 slot, a couple of SATA 6 Gb/s ports, and basic connectivity.

AMD Unveils its 7th Generation A-Series Desktop APUs

AMD today unveiled its 7th generation A-series desktop APUs. Unlike its predecessors, the new chips are full-fledged SoCs, built in the new socket AM4 package, on which the company plans to launch its "Zen" processors. The 7th gen A-series APUs are based on the "Bristol Ridge" silicon, and are the first fully-integrated SoCs (systems-on-chip) from the company in the performance-desktop segment, in that the APU completely integrates the functionality of a motherboard chipset, including its FCH or southbridge.

This level of integration includes PCI-Express root-complex, USB 3.0, and storage interfaces such as SATA 6 Gb/s emerging directly from the AM4 socket. Some AM4 motherboards could still include a sort of "chipset," which expands connectivity options, such as USB 3.1 ports, additional SATA ports, and a few more downstream PCI-Express lanes. The amount of downstream connectivity and features decide the grade of the chipset. AMD is initially launching two chipsets, the A320 for the entry-level segment, and the B350 for mainstream desktops. The company plans to launch an even more feature-rich chipset at a later date (probably alongside ZEN "Summit Ridge" CPUs).

AMD "Zen" and Intel "Kaby Lake" will Only Support Windows 10 and *nix

If you're holding out on Windows 7 as your PC gaming platform, you may also want to hold out on your current hardware for a long while. Microsoft is making good on a warning it made earlier this year, that it would not provide support to users of upcoming processors on older Windows operating systems. At their launch, Intel's 7th generation Core "Kaby Lake" processors and AMD "Summit Ridge" and "Bristol Ridge" will receive support from Microsoft only on the Windows 10 operating system. Older Windows versions will not receive drivers from Microsoft that support the new platforms. This is similar to Microsoft cutting off support for Windows XP from Intel's 3rd generation Core "Ivy Bridge" processors.

Without platform support, your Windows installation won't utilize many of the CPU features introduced with "Kaby Lake" and "Zen" and will likely run on a bare-minimum compatibility mode. This effectively cuts off PC enthusiasts from using older Windows versions on new hardware, such as the still-popular Windows 7. Non-Microsoft operating systems such as the latest *nix distributions such as ChromeOS, SteamOS, and OS X are still fully compatible with the upcoming chips.

AMD Demos Breakthrough Performance of the ZEN CPU Core

At an event last night in San Francisco, AMD provided additional architectural details and a first look at the performance of its next-generation, high-performance "Zen" processor core. AMD demonstrated the "Zen" core achieving a 40% generational improvement in instructions per clock, delivering a landmark increase in processor performance.

During the event, AMD demonstrated an 8-core, 16-thread "Summit Ridge" desktop processor (featuring AMD's "Zen" core) outperforming a similarly configured 8-core, 16-thread Intel "Broadwell-E" processor when running the multi-threaded Blender rendering software with both CPUs set to the same clock speed. AMD also conducted the first public demonstration of its upcoming 32-core, 64-thread "Zen"-based server processor, codenamed "Naples," in a dual processor server running the Windows Server operating system.

AMD Confirms Key "Summit Ridge" Specs

AMD CEO Lisa Su, speaking at the company's Computex reveal held up the most important CPU product for the company, the new eight-core "Summit Ridge" processor. A posterboy of the company's new "Zen" micro-architecture, "Summit Ridge" is an eight-core processor with SMT enabling 16 threads for the OS to deal with, a massive 40% IPC increase over the current "Excavator" architecture, and a new platform based around the AM4 socket.

The AM4 socket sees AMD completely relocate the core-logic (chipset) to the processor's die. Socket AM4 motherboards won't have any chipset on them. This also means that the processor has an integrated PCI-Express gen 3.0 root complex, besides the DDR4 integrated memory controller. With the chipset being completely integrated, connectivity such as USB and SATA will be routed out of the processor. The AM4 socket is shared with another kind of products, the "Bristol Ridge" APU, which features "Excavator" CPU cores and a 512-SP GCN 1.2 iGPU.

AMD Announces the 7th Generation A-Series APUs

AMD today announced its full 7th Generation AMD A-Series Processor lineup, designed to help provide powerful productivity and entertainment performance with maximum mobility for consumers. Previously codenamed "Bristol Ridge" and "Stoney Ridge," the 7th Generation AMD FX, A-Series, and E-Series Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) show major improvements in performance compared to the previous generation, including double-digit gains in gaming, video rendering, and file compression performance.

Consumers can take their gaming experience to the next level using a PC equipped with support for DirectX 12 and features like AMD FreeSync and AMD Dual Graphics technologies. AMD Advanced Power Management (APM) technology boosts performance to accomplish computing tasks with superior power efficiency for on-the-go capabilities. The new APUs allow users to enjoy the latest multimedia experiences in up-to Ultra HD 4K video resolution, with AMD FreeSync Technology support for fluid, artifact-free eSports-style gaming performance. 7th Generation AMD A-Series Processors enable a premium Microsoft Windows 10 experience and are primed to support the Microsoft Windows 10 Anniversary Update, expected later this year.

AMD "Summit Ridge" Die Pictured?

At its 2016 Annual Shareholders Meeting website, AMD reportedly posted a wafer shot of its upcoming 14 nm "Summit Ridge" CPU die. The "Summit Ridge" silicon is rumored to drive a number of performance-thru-enthusiast processor SKUs for AMD. The die pictured features eight CPU cores based on the "Zen" micro-architecture, a dual-channel DDR4 memory controller, 512 KB of L2 cache per core, and 16 MB of shared L3 cache split between two blocks of four CPU cores, each.

"Summit Ridge," much like the "Bristol Ridge" APU silicon, will be a true SoC, in that it integrates the southbridge on the processor die. With "Summit Ridge," AMD is also introducing a new inter-socket interconnect replacing its ageing HyperTransport technology. The new Global Memory Interconnect (GMI) bus provides a 100 GB/s path between two sockets. The "Summit Ridge" die features two such interconnect ports.

AMD "Summit Ridge" Silicon Reserved for 8-core CPUs Initially

Sources tell Bits'n'Chips that AMD could use a common 8-core CPU die based on its upcoming "Zen" architecture over multiple CPU SKUs, at least initially. AMD will have two distinct kinds of processors, those with integrated graphics (APUs) based on the "Bristol Ridge" silicon, and those without integrated graphics (CPUs), based on the "Summit Ridge" silicon. Since products based on both the dies will use a common socket on the desktop (socket AM4), consumers looking for 2-4 CPU cores will be presented with APU options, while those looking for more powerful CPU solutions will be made to choose 8-core CPUs based on the "Summit Ridge" silicon.

AMD Outs "Bristol Ridge" APU Performance Numbers

Although AMD's upcoming socket AM4 heralds new lines of processors and APUs based on the company's next-generation "Zen" CPU micro-architecture, some of the first APUs will continue to be based the current "Excavator" architecture. The "Bristol Ridge" is one such chip. It made its mobile debut as the 7th generation A-Series and FX-Series mobile APUs, and is en route to the desktop platform, in the AM4 package. What sets the AM4 package apart from the FM2+ package, and in turn "Bristol Ridge" from "Carrizo" is that the platform integrates even the southbridge (FCH) into the APU die. This could explain the 1,331-pin count of the AM4 socket.

The "Bristol Ridge" silicon is likely built on the existing 28 nm process. That's not the only thing "current-gen" about this chip. Its CPU component consists of two "Excavator" modules that make up four CPU cores, with 4 MB total cache; and its integrated GPU will likely be based on the Graphics CoreNext 1.2 "Volcanic Islands" architecture, the same one which drives the "Tonga" and "Fiji" discrete GPUs. The integrated memory controller supports dual-channel DDR4 memory. In its performance benchmarks, an AM4 APU based on the "Bristol Ridge" silicon was pitted against older 6th generation APUs, in which it was found to be as much as 23 percent faster.

AMD Accelerates Availability of Mobile 7th Generation AMD A-Series Processors

AMD today announced early availability of its new mobile 7th Generation AMD A-Series Processors, timed to support an exciting new notebook design by HP Inc. Equipped with advanced video, graphics, performance, and security features designed to boost productivity and enhance the entertainment experience, 7th Generation AMD A-Series Processors (codenamed "Bristol Ridge") also provide outstanding energy efficiency.

New OEM PC designs powered by mobile 7th Generation AMD A-Series Processors -- from ultrathin notebooks and convertibles to sleek All-in-Ones -- will come to market first with HP in the new HP ENVY x360, and with other OEM announcements expected later in the year. AMD will officially introduce 7th Gen A-Series APUs and showcase a wide range of OEM designs at Computex 2016, May 31-June 4, 2016, in Taipei, Taiwan.

No Enterprise Support for Older Windows Versions on the Latest Processors: Microsoft

Microsoft, in a tactfully-worded blog post by Exec VP for its Windows and Devices Group, Terry Myerson, announced that it won't support older versions of Windows (eg: Windows 7 and Windows 8.1) on the latest/upcoming processors. The software might run on the new hardware, but the company won't provide enterprise support for such platforms. This could include software updates, as the platform won't technically meet the software's requirements.

In the post, Microsoft named upcoming platforms from the big three CPU makers - Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm, to which the company will provide enterprise support only for Windows 10. These include the 7th generation Core "Kaby Lake" processors from Intel, "Bristol Ridge" processors from AMD, and the "8996" SoC from Qualcomm. Machines running a select few models of Core "Skylake" processors will receive enterprise support, but only till 17th July, 2017. After this date, only the most critical security updates will be released for the OS running on those platforms.

AMD Socket AM4 to Transition "Excavator" and "Zen" Architecture

A lot is riding on AMD's upcoming desktop CPU socket, codenamed AM4. Some of the first motherboards based on this socket are expected to launch in March 2016. What makes the socket particularly interesting (and important) is that it's a transition point for AMD's two major CPU architecture generations - "Excavator" and "Zen." Excavator is an incremental upgrade of AMD's less than successful "Bulldozer" architecture, while "Zen" is its next major one. AM4 is also going to be a common socket for AMD's desktop APU and many-core CPUs.

Some of the first socket AM4 APUs could be "Bristol Ridge." Succeeding the company's "Carrizo" APUs, it will be available in both socket AM4, supporting DDR4 memory, and FP4, supporting both DDR3 and DDR4. This chip will implement "Excavator" CPU cores. In its AM4 avatar, "Bristol Ridge" will offer up to four CPU cores, with TDP ranging between 45W-65W, and with support for DDR4-2400 memory. Later in 2016, AMD could debut its first "Zen" multi-core CPUs, which feature the company's next-gen, performance-focused CPU cores.

AMD Zen-based 8-core Desktop CPU Arrives in 2016, on Socket FM3

In what is a confirmation that AMD has killed socket AM3+ and its 3-chip platform, a leaked slide that's part of a larger press-deck addressing investors, tells us that the company is planning to launch a high-performance desktop processor targeting enthusiasts, based on its next-generation "Zen" architecture, in 2016. Our older articles detail the Zen CPU core design, and the way in which AMD will build multi-core CPUs with it. This processor will be codenamed "Summit Ridge," and will be a CPU, and not an APU as previously reported. In AMD-speak, what sets a CPU apart from an APU is its lack of integrated graphics.

AMD "Summit Ridge" will be an 8-core CPU built on the 14 nanometer silicon fab process. It will feature eight "Zen" cores, with 512 KB of L2 cache per core, 16 MB of L3 cache, with 8 MB shared between two sets of four cores, each; a dual-channel integrated memory controller that likely supports both DDR3 and DDR4 memory types; and an integrated PCI-Express gen 3.0 root complex, with a total of 22 lanes. We can deduce this from the fact that "Summit Ridge" will be built in the same upcoming socket FM3 package, which the company's "Bristol Ridge" Zen-based APU will be built on. "Summit Ridge" will hence be more competitive with Intel's 6th generation Core "Skylake" processors, such as the i7-6700K and i5-6600K, than the company's "Broadwell-E" HEDT platform.
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