Latest AMD Ryzen Pro chips are similar silicon, more smarts

That other processor company really wants you to use AI at work

AMD has brought its 4 nm Hawk Point and Phoenix APUs to business users in the form of the Ryzen Pro 8040 series for laptops and Ryzen Pro 8000 series for desktops.

As with previous iterations of Ryzen Pro, the APUs come with business-focused features, primarily better security options and remote management. A new generation of Ryzen Pro usually comes with fresh enterprise features and/or new hardware, but that's not quite the case with the 8040 or the 8000 series.

The Hawk Point architecture inside the Ryzen Pro 8040 series is actually nearly identical to the outgoing Phoenix arch that powered the Ryzen Pro 7040 series. It uses the same TSMC 4 nm process, and nothing with respect to core count or frequency has changed for the CPU cores and integrated GPU. The single notable difference is the faster XDNA neural processing unit (NPU), which can hit 16 TOPS instead of just 10 on original Phoenix chips.

It's a somewhat different situation for the desktop Ryzen Pro 8000 chips. Last-generation Ryzen Pro 7000 desktop processors didn't use Phoenix silicon, but instead AMD's CPU chiplets seen in high-performance desktop, workstation, and server CPUs. In raw CPU core performance, the top-end Ryzen 7 Pro 8700G with eight cores is likely to be substantially slower than the 12-core Ryzen 9 Pro 7945.

AMD is clearly hoping the Ryzen Pro 8000's greater efficiency, vastly faster integrated graphics, and dedicated NPU will make up for it. The larger Radeon iGPU and NPU combined can hit 39 TOPS, and we can only assume the Ryzen 9 Pro 7945 with a tiny iGPU and no NPU can only hit a few TOPS at best.

Not all Ryzen Pro 8040 and 8000 processors will have an XDNA NPU. The lowest-end six and four-core APUs feature a different chip entirely, dubbed Phoenix 2. It utilizes two regular Zen 4 cores and four Zen 4c cores, which are denser but have a lower clock speed. Phoenix 2 just doesn't include an NPU, and its Radeon 740M graphics are notably slower than the graphics regular Phoenix has, making these Phoenix 2 APUs substantially slower in AI workloads.

AMD really wants you to use AI for business stuff

AMD is banking hard on AI with its latest Ryzen Pro chips, especially as better AI performance is the only selling point compared to previous models. The company says AI can free up time by doing work that would otherwise be done by hand, such as writing documents and emails based on "a few bullet points." Although you'd have to trust an AI to get it right and not waste meeting minutes figuring out AI word salad.

It also suggests using an AI assistant for coding, though there's good reason to believe not every dev would see that as an appealing feature.

If any business is going to use AI-powered CPUs, AMD argues that its chips, not Intel's, are the way to go. Hawk Point-based 8040 APUs can hit a total 39 TOPS, a fair bit higher than the 34 TOPS Intel claims its Core Ultra CPUs with Meteor Lake silicon are capable of.

On the desktop, the disparity is even wider as Intel axed desktop Meteor Lake chips and is relying on 14th Gen Raptor Lake Refresh models, which don't have an NPU at all and have fairly weak graphics like the old Ryzen Pro 7000 series.

Naturally, PC companies like HP and Lenovo say AMD's latest AI-infused processors for desktops and laptops are great, as does Microsoft. HP already has a deep lineup of PCs using Ryzen Pro 8040 and 8000 chips, while Lenovo has launched a ThinkPad with a Ryzen Pro 8040 APU and a few ThinkCentre desktops with Ryzen Pro 8000 chips. ®

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