AMD's Carrizo will face off with Broadwell-U, won't land in desktops

Following up on November's official reveal, AMD shared some new details about its upcoming Carrizo and Carrizo-L APUs at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. Among the new info: AMD has no plans to offer Carrizo as a socketed chip for desktop PCs.

Carrizo will feature quad processor cores based on Excavator, the successor to the Bulldozer architecture, along with next-gen GCN integrated graphics, perhaps with some of the same improvements as the Tonga chip inside the Radeon R9 285. Though Carrizo will power some slim all-in-ones, that will apparently be the extent of its desktop presence—marking a departure from last year's strategy with Kaveri, which found its way into both notebooks and full-fledged ATX desktops. Carrizo should, for the most part, power the same types of systems as Broadwell-U, including ultrathins and slim convertibles.

We got to see a working Carrizo prototype notebook at AMD's CES suite. The system ran some demos smoothly. We weren't allowed to take pictures, but the company supplied some official photography:

AMD isn't breaking new ground in the thinness department here. To be fair, though, prototypes are often bulkier than production systems. I'm sure will see more slender designs later this year.

Also being demoed was a hidden Carrizo dev box that showed smooth 4K H.265 video decoding. The demo was pitted against a Broadwell system, which struggled with the same workload. We're told Carrizo's UVD video decoding block can handle H.265 content natively without help from the GPU's shader core.

In terms of power draw, AMD expects to match Broadwell-U's "full dynamic range," with TDPs ranging up to 35W. AMD didn't share a lower limit, but it did note that Carrizo won't quite manage to slip into the 5-6W TDPs required for fanless tablets. We should "expect" Carrizo systems to be actively cooled, the company says. (For reference, Broadwell-U is available in 15W and 28W flavors, and some of the 15W parts can be configured down to 7.5W.)

Lower TDPs will be the realm of Carrizo-L, which will share the same platform as Carrizo while trading its Excavator cores for "Puma+" ones. AMD bills Carrizo-L as an "evolution" of the current Beema APU rather than a "dramatic departure." The company will also continue to offer its existing Mullins chips, which can scale down to 2.5W, for very low-power solutions like fanless tablets.

AMD's schedule for Carrizo and Carrizo-L is unchanged from November: both chips are still scheduled for a mid-2015 release.

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