AMD’s first Ryzen 7000 mobile CPU is a mix of old and new for midrange laptops

AMD's "Mendocino" processor is soon going to budget laptops in the form of the Ryzen 7020 series.
Enlarge / AMD’s “Mendocino” processor will soon hit budget laptops in the form of the Ryzen 7020 series.

AMD

At Computex earlier this year AMD announced a processor called “Mendocino” that was meant to bring modern technology and 12-hour battery life to laptops in the unexciting-but-important $400 to $700 price range. Today, the company brings Mendocino to the market in the form of three Athlon and Ryzen processors, collectively called the 7020 series. AMD says laptops with these Mendocino-based processors will be available from Q4 of 2022, which is almost upon us; launch systems include Lenovo’s IdeaPad 1, Acer’s Aspire 3, and a 17-inch laptop from HP.

The processor in the 7020 series is the least interesting element. It’s a quad-core, eight-thread CPU (in the Ryzen chips; the Athlon chip is dual-core) based on 2019’s Zen 2 architecture, previously seen in 3000-series Ryzen desktop processors and 4000- and 5000- range of mobile processors. A Zen 2 CPU should be fast enough to make most basic browsing and office applications feel snappy, and they’ll be preferable to the likes of Intel’s Pentium and Celeron Silver chips (and likely many of the upcoming Intel processors). But they will be slower than many 5000-series and 6000-series Ryzen CPUs, as well as quad-core or better, 11th-gen and up-core CPUs from Intel.

All three chips in AMD's 7020 series.
Enlarge / All three chips in AMD’s 7020 series.

AMD

All 7020 series CPUs include a new GPU based on AMD’s RDNA2 GPU architecture, which is also found in its Radeon RX 6000 series graphics cards, Ryzen 6000 series laptop processors and the upcoming Ryzen 7000 desktop processors. AMD bundles four of its graphics compute units (CUs) with each 7020 series CPU into a GPU it has dubbed the Radeon 610M. That’s one-third as many GPU cores as it includes high-end Ryzen 6000 partsbut they should still be adequate for very light gaming—AMD’s press materials mention 720p gaming in competitive games like League of Legends, CS:GOand DOTA 2.

Depending on the laptop’s port selection, the GPU can also drive up to four displays simultaneously, including the built-in display panel. And as RDNA2 GPUs, they get the same video encoding and decoding support as higher-end models do, including decoding support for the AV1 codec.

Like the Ryzen 6000 processors, these Mendocino chips are built using a 6nm process from TSMC, and they also require LPDDR5 memory – in the short term, mandatory more expensive DDR5 memory seems counterintuitive for low-priced laptops, but all types of DDR5 RAM should gradually become cheaper over the next year or two as more devices support it and production increases. The processors also include Microsoft Pluto security hardware.

The Mendocino CPUs are our first look at AMD’s new laptop processor naming scheme in action. The “7” at the beginning of the number simply indicates that AMD is including it as part of its 2023 processor lineup, while the “2” in the third digit indicates that it uses the Zen 2 processor architecture. The second figure will range from 2 for the low-core, dual-core Athlon Gold 7220U to 5 for the quad-core Ryzen 5 7520U, with the quad-core Ryzen 3 7320U in between.

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