In Q2 of 2015, AMD officially launched Carrizo, their new APU aimed at mobile devices such as laptops and portable all-in-ones that normally accommodate 15W-35W processors. Quoted in the media as 'the biggest change to Bulldozer since Bulldozer itself', the marketing arm of AMD released information regarding the Excavator architecture of the new processor, and which contained a long list of fluid and dynamic implementations on improving the Bulldozer based architecture over the previous iteration of Steamroller (Kaveri). Despite this, AMDs target market for the Carrizo platform has not been receptive to AMDs product stack in recent generations due to issues surrounding performance, battery life and designs. AMD believes to have solved the first two of those matters with Carrizo, whereas the third is out of their hands and up to the OEMs to embrace AMDs platform. We wondered if the OEM’s concerns were well placed, and organized some special testing to confirm AMD’s claims about Carrizo.

Who Controls the User Experience: AMD’s Carrizo Tested

Back in early 2015, we performed a long analysis on Intel’s Core M platform, featuring 4.5W processors under the Broadwell microarchitecture. The purpose of that piece was to test several designs using that line of processors, and examining how the design of the chassis and features of the platform directly affected both performance and user experience. For Brett and I at the time, it was an eye opening endeavor, showing just how the slowest processor in a stack in the right notebook chassis can outperform the fastest, most expensive processor in a bad chassis that is wholly un-optimized.

This review is along similar lines, but instead we are testing AMD’s latest Carrizo platform, which is focused on 15W mobile parts in the $400 to $700 market. We approached AMD after the Carrizo Tech Day back in May with a proposal – to speak to engineers and to test the claims made about the platform. Typically sourcing AMD laptops, at least over the past few years, has been a veritable minefield as they are seemingly never promoted by OEM partners as review samples, or as one senior member put it, ‘Some sales people only seem to offer AMD devices if people specifically ask for them’. Our proposal involved sourcing a number of Carrizo laptops when they were launched and tackling them head on, to see how many of the claims made on the Tech Day were testable but also noticeable and true. The issue AMD and OEMs have is that everyone in the AMD-to-OEM-to-retailer chain is invested in selling the platform, so there needs to be a source of third-party testing for people who don’t trust that chain.

Over the course of a few months, our proposal changed and merged with ideas to speak with AMD’s VPs and engineers, with a number of meetings and discussions. It emerged the best way to do this was to fly to AMD’s HQ in Austin, Texas for a week and get hands on time in the labs. We agreed, as speaking to engineers and learning what is going on behind the scenes at AMD is always a good thing, but on the condition that we were free to setup, test and report without any predisposition to the results. There is an added benefit of having engineers only a floor or two away if a problem was to arise. There have been similar events in the past where media have been invited on-site for canned testing, but we made sure this wasn’t going to be the case before we arrived. For example, Qualcomm has invited select media to in-hand, temporary Snapdragon testing on a couple of occasions, with media free to test and report whatever results.


The Testing

We had four Carrizo devices on hand to test for a week, along with a single Kaveri system. These devices were sourced by AMD, and I put in requests for a variety of price points, hardware configurations and styles, along with some specific testing equipment to which we don’t have access. While it wasn’t possible to get everything on hand due to timing issues, the arrangement at least captured a number of areas we planned on testing.

The testing aimed to cover the devices as units, the underlying hardware, as well as the Tech Day claims. Some of this piece will read like a regular review, some of it similar to our Core M testing regarding performance, power and temperature, but a large part is reserved for discussing both the results and the market. When building a platform like Carrizo, a lot of binary decisions are made that can be good or bad for the processor manufacturer, the OEM or the user. We discuss these in detail as a result of our findings. 

The Devices: #1 The HP Elitebook 745 G2 (Kaveri, A10 PRO-7350B)
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  • jakemonO - Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - link

    no A12 core parts for the test? I can't find the A10 part on the HP websiote, only A8 & A12
  • UtilityMax - Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - link

    After a decade of hype since the ATI acquisition, nothing has changed. AMD has a massive OEM problem. Moreover, laptops have been outselling desktops for like a decade, yet AMD if you look at the history of AMD, it's hard to believe they ever really cared about portables. The Kaveri parts didn't even show up, while the Carrizo notebooks are already botched technology as explained in the article..
  • gserli - Thursday, February 11, 2016 - link

    I have to say that the $400 to $700 notebooks on sale are garbage.
    The IGPs are not strong enough for casual gaming like LOL and CS GO.
    Crappy 5400RPM harddisk will make you want to throw the machine out of the window.
    If you really need that little bit more performance.
    Pay few hundred more. Or you can get a notebook that will hurt your arm if you carry it with one hand.

    AMD needs to be more aggressive. Talk to the OEMs and give them better offer.
    Convince them build a $700 notebook with 13 Inch 1080p IPS touch screen, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, A8 or A6 APU and below 1.5KG.
    A lower end $600 one would work with 1366*768 IPS touch screen, 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM and A6 APU, below 1.5KG.

    My $640 Asus TP300L is absolutely bullshit! I thought a mobile i5 would be enough for my daily use since I had a i5 desktop and was really satisfied with it.
    CPU performance is not a issue nowadays. The IGP is slow, but I didn't expect it to be fast(Although the one on desktop is way more powerful).
    The biggest problem is the GOD DAMN 5400RPM HARD DISK.
    Not only did it affect the boot up speed. Every action I performed is awfully slow when there are some OS things running in background.
    Only if I wait for 5 or 10 minutes after boot-up, then I can use it normally.

    Please, kill all the 5400RPM Hard disk. They should not be in 2016.
  • farmergann - Thursday, February 11, 2016 - link

    That's what I find so hilarious about all the Y700 6700hq lovers out there - all the CPU power in the world is relegated to potato status outside of b.s. benchmarks with that 5400rpm HDD. Save money with the FX8800p Y700 and buy an $80 250GB Samsung 850 Evo to slap in it...
  • wow&wow - Thursday, February 11, 2016 - link

    Will it be more appropriate to have "Additional" (Why not Update?) in the beginning, particularly the misleading pre-production stuff? Thanks for the article.
  • farmergann - Thursday, February 11, 2016 - link

    LOL, because the entire point of this article would be nullified. They didn't even bother comparing the FX8800p Y700 with the intels head to head outside of some DX9 garbage. Pitiful anandtech shills are pitiful. How many times did they mention Freesync? Yeah...
  • silverblue - Friday, February 12, 2016 - link

    To be fair, is there a point?
  • xrror - Thursday, February 11, 2016 - link

    "Some companies in the past have dealt with contra-revenue, selling processors at below cost or with deals on multiple parts when purchased together. Very few companies, typically ones with large market shares in other areas, have access to this. Some members of the industry also see it as not fighting fair, compared to actually just pricing the parts lower in the first place."

    I had to laugh so much as this. WHO COULD IT BE? MYSTERY!

    It must be... Cyrix ! no? hrm. I give up. =P
  • dustwalker13 - Saturday, February 13, 2016 - link

    still ... there is just no saving the bulldozer architecture, no matter how much they improve or iterate it.

    bulldozer and amd by proxy for normal users are synonyms for "just not as good as intel" and for a little more experienced users "that processor that cheated with its core count".

    the few people who actually read articles like the one above and compare performance/value represent literally no market share.

    the only way out for amd at this point is to create as much boom around their zen-cores as possible, get them out asap, hitch their little start to new buzzwords like hbm, old buzzwords like rage and hope they can actually deliver the performance figures needed in the first reviews to drive a wave of positive articles through the press. only then will they be able to get back into the market. i wish them the best, a surface 5 (non pro) with a low power zen apu on hbm sounds awsome ... i'd get one of those in a heartbeat.
  • yankeeDDL - Monday, February 15, 2016 - link

    I own a Toshiba P50D-C-104. I read with interest this article and, albeit extremely helpful and rich of information, left some questions open, at least as far a I'm concerned.
    First of all, the P50D-C-104 costs <$600 and has an A10-8700P. I find this price range more relevant for home-users and, in general, for somebody interested in AMD offering.
    1Kusd for a laptop with integrated GPU seems too expensive.
    The P50D-C-104 has 2 DIMM slots; couldn't find for sure whether it is dual channel or not.

    I am curios to know how it performs on some popular games against Intel's offering (at that price level, it would go against core i3, at best). In the page with comparison against Intel's offering there are almost only synthetic benchmarks: it would have been nice to compare on some actual games.

    My point is that in the $1K range, there are many features that could add cost while not necessarily improving performance.

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