Desktop Ryzens with Vega graphics: Is fastest-ever integrated GPU fast enough?

February 12, 2018

Enlarge / The dark block on the left is the four-core Zen CCX. On the right is the GPU. (credit: AMD)

Last year’s release of the Ryzen processors, built around AMD’s new Zen core, was a major event for the chip company: after years in the doldrums, AMD finally had processors that were credible alternatives to Intel’s chips.

However, AMD still didn’t offer Intel much competition, because its chips lacked an important feature: integrated GPUs. In both the laptop and the mainstream and corporate desktop markets, most processors sold combine a CPU with a GPU, while discrete GPUs are reserved for high-performance, gaming, and other specialized systems. The first wave of Ryzen chips all needed to be paired with video cards. That made it appealing to enthusiasts and certain high-performance markets but irrelevant to Intel’s bread-and-butter market.

We knew that situation was temporary. A few mobile processors that combined Zen with a GPU hit the market late last year, and desktop parts were promised for February at CES. The first two chips to use the “AMD Ryzen Desktop Processors with Radeon Vega Graphics” moniker were released today. (FYI: AMD is regrettably no longer using its much more concise “Accelerated Processing Unit” (APU) terminology for CPU-GPU combinations.)

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