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Ryzen Pro CPUs are better for work than Intel's, claims AMD

First business chips from AMD to include Microsoft's Pluton security processor, stock is available says chip biz

AMD claims its new Ryzen Pro 6000 CPUs for laptops are better suited for a variety of work-related tasks than Intel's latest chips and provide better battery life, though it's not a grand slam.

The Ryzen Pro 6000 series, launched on Tuesday, are an offshoot of the chip designer's 6nm Ryzen 6000 laptop chips from earlier this year that provide extra layers of security and remote management capabilities for businesses who want a tighter rein on their employees' PCs. Notably, they're the first business-minded PC chips to include Microsoft's Pluton security processor, which are notably absent in Intel-based PCs this year.

The new chip family arrives in laptops made by HP, Lenovo, and others starting in the second quarter, and it consists of eight CPUs between the H-series for heavy-duty laptops and U-series for less powerful thin and light laptops, the former of which marks a first for the product segment.

These CPUs sport up to eight cores, 16 threads, a base frequency of up to 3.3GHz, a boost frequency of up to 4.9GHz and a combined L2 and L3 cache of 20MB. But getting all those top specs are only possible with the new top-line Ryzen 9 Pro 6950H, which has a 45W thermal design power. However, there are multiple H and U-series processors with eight cores, including the highest end of the U series, the Ryzen 7 Pro 6850U.

To give you an idea of how these chips compare to last year's Ryzen Pro 5000 chips, AMD averaged the results of several CPU benchmark tests for the Ryzen 7 Pro 6850U and found that it provides a 10 percent improvement when comparing the 15W version to last year's 15W Ryzen 7 Pro 5850U. But when the new Ryzen 7 Pro is configured at 28W, that boost grows to 30 percent.

All the CPUs feature AMD's integrated RDNA 2 graphics, for which the chip designer promises a nice boost over last year's Ryzen Pro 5000 series. As an example, AMD said the 15W version of the Ryzen 7 Pro 6850U provides a 50 percent graphics boost over the 15W Ryzen 7 Pro 5850U while the 28W version provides a 110 percent boost.

These new processors only range from Ryzen 5 to Ryzen 9, so if you're looking for a lower-end Ryzen Pro chip with Ryzen 6000's Zen 3+ architecture and the latest Ryzen Pro security and management features, you're out of luck. However, the company has refreshed its Ryzen Pro 5000 chips from last year with a new Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, and Ryzen 9, which AMD said can outperform Intel's 11th-gen Core mobile CPUs from 2020 across multiple benchmarks.

On the security end, the Ryzen Pro 6000 chips include, for the first time in the product segment, Microsoft's Pluton security processor, which AMD said is among several layers of security it provides in combination with Microsoft and PC makers. The company claims it can provide "out-of-the box protection" against sophisticated attacks when combining the capabilities of Pluton and the AMD Secure Processor that also resides within Ryzen Pro chips.

The other security layers provided on AMD's side are Memory Guard and Shadow Stack, two features that were introduced in previous Ryzen Pro generations.

AMD said Microsoft's Secured-Core PC and "hardware-enforced" Stack Protection features for Windows 10 and Windows 11 work in combination with AMD's hardware-based security features to provide a "unified approach." The chips' silicon also plays nicely with security features from PC makers such as Lenovo's ThinkShield and HP's SureStart.

As for management capabilities, the Ryzen Pro 6000 chips feature another first: an integrated AMD Manageability Processor, which enables "enhanced" remote management capabilities over wired and wireless networks. The specialty chip's wireless support extends to more than 32 manageability profiles that are based on open standards. It also supports cloud-based deployment tools like Windows Autopilot, in-band and out-of-band management software, and "modern" management software like Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

In a press briefing, AMD shared a series of hand-picked comparisons between two new eight-core Ryzen 7 Pro CPUs and Intel's Core i7-1260P, which comes with four performance cores and eight efficient cores as part of its hybrid architecture design. It's important to note that most of the comparisons were made using the Ryzen 7 Pro 6860Z CPU that AMD specially designed for Lenovo's new ThinkPad Z laptops as part of an advanced engineering collaboration.

For office and productivity application performance, AMD showed that the Ryzen 7 Pro 6860Z provided a double-digit advantage over Intel's CPU when it came to the PCMark 10, PCMark 10 Extended, and PCMark 10 Productivity tests, which measures performance across various applications, including web browsing, office applications, video conferencing, and GPU-intensive software.

But for the UL Procyon office productivity benchmark, which is designed "exclusively for professional users" and measures performance across multiple Microsoft Office apps, AMD's CPU was slightly worse than Intel's.

However, AMD said the performance profile changes when running the UL Procyon benchmark in combination with a Microsoft Teams video conference call. In this situation, the AMD's processor provided 17 percent better performance than Intel's Core i7-1260P, according to the company.

As for more general benchmarks using Lenovo's Ryzen 7 6860Z, AMD said its CPU provided much faster overall performance based on the Passmark 10 benchmark, a double-digit advantage for graphics based on the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark, and a double-digit advantage for multi-threaded computing based on the Cinebench R23 nT benchmark.

However, when it came to single-threaded computing, AMD said its standard Ryzen 7 Pro 6850U part was slightly worse than Intel's, based on the Cinebench R23 1T benchmark.

When it comes to how much power AMD's new CPUs consume, the chip designer claimed that the Ryzen 7 Pro 6850U provides up to 29 hours of battery life for 1080p local video playback, though we're not sure many people have that much stamina.

Thankfully, AMD provided some real-world examples for how the Ryzen Pro chips fare in energy consumption. Compared to the last year's Ryzen 7 5800U, the Ryzen 7 6800U uses up to 35 percent less power for video conferencing, up to 17 percent less power for web browsing and up to 32 percent less power for video streaming, according to AMD.

On a competitive basis, AMD said the Lenovo-specific Ryzen 7 6860Z can provide up to 45 percent longer battery life for Microsoft Teams video conference calls than Intel's Core i7-1260P, so good news, we suppose, for those who like to catch some sun while stuck in punishingly long meetings.

AMD also had a chance to run a MobileMark 2018 test for the new HP EliteBook 865 G, which uses the Ryzen 7 Pro 6850U, and found that it ranked number one for battery life against other laptops on the public list of test results. You can check the results for yourself here.

As for how many laptops will use these new CPUs, AMD didn't say. It did say that several new HP laptops, including multiple versions of the EliteBook and ProBook, will sport the processors, and so will several of Lenovo's new ThinkPad and ThinkBook laptops.

When it comes to the supply situation, AMD said we shouldn't worry about shortages, which means the Ryzen Pro 6000 CPUs are in a much different situation than AMD's Ryzen Threadripper CPUs that PC makers have had great difficulty getting hold of.

"Consistently over the last couple quarters and year, AMD continues to make substantial investments to ensure that that we are able to ramp our supply in partnership with our OEMs," said Matthew Unangst, senior director of AMD's commercial client and workstation business.

"I'm very confident that you're going to see many of these platforms available not only to the enterprise customers but also in the channel markets, especially as we work through the balance of this year." ®

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