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AMD: No More SmartShift Laptops Until 2021

AMD SmartShift Example
(Image credit: AMD)

AMD’s SmartShift technology won’t be coming to any new laptops this year, according to AMD Chief Architect of Gaming Solutions Frank Azor.

The news broke this morning on Twitter, when Azor responded to a comment asking about new SmartShift laptops by saying “It’s a brand new technology and to @dell credit [sic] they jumped on it first...No More SmartShift laptops are coming this year but the team is working hard on having more options ASAP for 2021.”

Azor referred to an interview with PCWorld, which first wrote about the news.

Azor’s referring to the Dell G5 15 SE there, which became the first laptop to feature SmartShift technology when it hit the market in the middle of last month. Essentially, what SmartShift means is that the G5 15’s Ryzen 5 4600H CPU and Radeon RX 5600M GPU can dynamically shift power to each other based on the user’s current needs. AMD claims that this gives “games up to 14% more performance averaged across select games,” though of course, you’ll need both an AMD CPU and an AMD GPU to use it.

That also means we likely won’t see any more new laptops with both AMD processors and AMD graphics this year as well, as we’re not sure why laptop makers wouldn’t include SmartShift on new machines carrying both.

However, computers aren’t the only machines that can pair AMD processors with AMD graphics. Both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X have already been confirmed to do just that, and Sony has already confirmed that its new console will use SmartShift. With both machines set for a 2020 release, they might be our next exposure to AMD’s new technology.

Azor said other reasons for the gap in laptops with SmartShift may be laptop makers being surprised by Ryzen 4000’s performance, and thus being behind on their production roadmaps, which Azor says get planned out at least a year in advance.

  • rgd1101
    So it a piece of hardware and not just driver support.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    Engineer: Let's build a laptop which would take advantage of AMD SmartShift!

    Executive: Clarify.

    Engineer: Well, we take an AMD APU and AMD GPU, put them in a laptop, and you get higher performance!

    Executive: What's the catch?

    Engineer: Well, lower performance than nVidia, users have to deal with driver issues we will get blamed for, no ray tracing, higher power consumption, overall lower specs for the price...

    Executive (to Engineer:
    Reply
  • MasterMadBones
    Well yes, the implementation of SmartShift becomes problematic when no one makes laptops with AMD GPUs.
    Reply
  • TCA_ChinChin
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    Engineer: Let's build a laptop which would take advantage of AMD SmartShift!

    Executive: Clarify.

    Engineer: Well, we take an AMD APU and AMD GPU, put them in a laptop, and you get higher performance!

    Executive: What's the catch?

    Engineer: Well, lower performance than nVidia, users have to deal with driver issues we will get blamed for, no ray tracing, higher power consumption, overall lower specs for the price...
    Well from most reviewers that I see, the one model of smartshift laptop that I know of (Dell G15 SE) is

    Equivalent or similar in GPU performance compared to Nvidia GPUs of the same tier
    decently efficient without being too under-powered or extremely hot
    has one of the BEST battery life of all gaming laptops in its class and
    is very price competitive
    So I don't know where you're pulling these assumptions from but I'll have to disagree.
    Reply
  • BaRoMeTrIc
    TCA_ChinChin said:
    Well from most reviewers that I see, the one model of smartshift laptop that I know of (Dell G15 SE) is

    Equivalent or similar in GPU performance compared to Nvidia GPUs of the same tier
    decently efficient without being too under-powered or extremely hot
    has one of the BEST battery life of all gaming laptops in its class and
    is very price competitiveSo I don't know where you're pulling these assumptions from but I'll have to disagree.

    Inconsistent driver performance across a small percentage of gpus in a brand new architecture that delivered great performance, power, and value. Obviously this will effect every single product they make from now on, they can't possibly invest in more driver testing prior to launch now that they have footholds in Desktop, Mobile, and Enterprise. /S
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    BaRoMeTrIc said:
    Inconsistent driver performance across a small percentage of gpus in a brand new architecture that delivered great performance, power, and value. Obviously this will effect every single product they make from now on, they can't possibly invest in more driver testing prior to launch now that they have footholds in Desktop, Mobile, and Enterprise. /S

    By AMD's own release notes they are still looking into major bugs affecting Navi GPUs coming up on a year after their release, namely:

    Some games may exhibit stutter intermittently during gameplay on Radeon RX 5000 series graphics products.
    Some users may still experience black screen or system hang issues during extended periods of gameplay. AMD will continue to monitor and investigate reports of these issues closely.They didn't even acknowledge this as a problem until February of this year, months after their release, as reported by TomsHardware, WCCFTech, and other outlets.

    If you're spending a premium on a high performance video card or a laptop with a high performance card, you don't need to be concerned with potential issues stemming from a duff driver or series of drivers, especially not after it came out that AMD was silently fixing security holes in the drivers so staying on an older driver set would leave you at risk.

    And no, they don't invest more in driver testing, they haven't for years, that's why issues such as the ones above persist months after release. And it's not just Navi that's having issues after all this time, the Radeon VII is still having black screen issues, among others. This has been the standard fare for AMD for over a decade, I know firsthand because I've used 10 of them over the last 15 years, and finally had to just throw up my hands and switch to nVidia, the final straw being the horrendous Adrenaline 2020 interface.

    TCA_ChinChin said:
    Well from most reviewers that I see, the one model of smartshift laptop that I know of (Dell G15 SE) is

    Equivalent or similar in GPU performance compared to Nvidia GPUs of the same tier
    decently efficient without being too under-powered or extremely hot
    has one of the BEST battery life of all gaming laptops in its class and
    is very price competitiveSo I don't know where you're pulling these assumptions from but I'll have to disagree.

    Did you read HotHardware's review of it? They benchmarks show that even in Smart Shift mode it was slower in games than the 2070 Max-Q and even the 2060 in one, it put out 50dB of noise and ran 80-85*C while only getting 6 hours of battery life under video playback, yet it cost $1200. For $200 more (HotHardware stated theirs was the $1200 model, the ASUS Zepyrus is $1400 at BestBuy currently) you can get the ASUS Zephyrus that not only lasts 50% longer in video playback, but boasts superior performance, and even 2 hours of gaming on battery power vs the sub 1 hour Dell G5 15 SE. Combine this with the fact that the screen on it doesn't even have 100% sRGB color gamut like the ASUS has (confirmed by Dell sales reps, as I actually was considering it at the time), and you can see how many corners were cut by Dell to get a lower price tag.
    Reply
  • epobirs
    This sounds like what the power management functions of each processor should be doing already. If an 8 core CPU that tops out at 3.2GHz only needs two cores at 1.6GHz to keep the game running as intended, most of the cores should be sleeping until they have something to do.
    Reply
  • msroadkill612
    Admin said:
    AMD Chief Architect of Gaming Solutions shoots down hopes for more SmartShift laptops in 2020.

    AMD: No More SmartShift Laptops Until 2021 : Read more
    Sadly, debate always gets hijaaked by gamers. Yes folks game on mobiles, but hardware wise, its almost a contradiction... like wanting a child proof aircraft carrier.

    There are also many who dont game, but still require competent modern graphics, and this is a threshold that included graphics has not reached in suitably powerful mobile SOCs.

    What may well be a market watershed, is that Renoir has reached that threshhold for millions of upmarket business laptop users.

    Its not like they want to add a hot, heavy and dear DGPU, but if graphics needs are un-met, what can you do?

    I think demand for the IGP only versions could be much higher than anticipated. A big slice of the former DGPU laptop market, will now be served by the 7nm monolithic Renoir & its IGP.

    While Renoir IGP may not be much better than existing APUs... (they have fine gpuS - thats not the problem... it is the perception of lesser mobile CPUS from pre 7nm AMDs.
    Reply
  • deksman
    TCA_ChinChin said:
    Well from most reviewers that I see, the one model of smartshift laptop that I know of (Dell G15 SE) is

    Equivalent or similar in GPU performance compared to Nvidia GPUs of the same tier
    decently efficient without being too under-powered or extremely hot
    has one of the BEST battery life of all gaming laptops in its class and
    is very price competitiveSo I don't know where you're pulling these assumptions from but I'll have to disagree.

    He's pulling the assumptions out of nowhere and are based on outdated myths that have no substance.

    As you said, the 5600M in DELL G5 15 5505 is actually power efficient (on the same level as refresh NV RTX 2060) and usually sits between 2060 and 2070 Max-q performance-wise (it would probably perform better though if Dell gave it better cooling - and the drivers are still early - but they perform well).

    On the DELL temperatures, they are very decent on the GPU (and CPU in most scenarios), but I have noticed the cooling assembly in that unit to be a bit sub-par compared to other laptops that have Renoir and NV RTX 2060.

    Dell has a bad track record with using relatively poor cooling assemblies in their units, however, the 4800H and 5600M do NOT seem to throttle (although the CPU is underperforming a bit compared to other laptops that have 4800H inside - which could also be sometimes hampering the 5600M, but that's DELL's problem, not AMD).
    Usually Dell users with NV/Intel had to undervolt their CPU's and GPU's to allow them to run to their full potential with much lower temperatures - I'm hoping AMD will allow Renoir voltages to be modified through Ryzen Master and that Wattman or voltage control can be enabled on 5600M.

    And as you mentioned, the battery life for that unit is higher than the competition in the same price range (especially when you take into account the battery Dell put inside) - and the unit is definitely cheaper than other laptops that come with 4800H and 2060.

    Drivers haven't been an issue for mobile AMD for quite a bit of time now because they incorporated those into their Adrenaline suite to get most up to date revisions/fixes (so I'm guessing he's basing that one on the lack of mobile driver updates from years ago which was usually down to laptop OEM's not updating their drivers, or the recent problem some Navi users experienced on the desktop).

    Oh and in the case of AMD drivers having an issue with black screens, etc. with Navi... the issue was most apparent on Asus Navi GPU's which were admitted by Asus to have an incorrect pressure for the cooling assembly (most other GPU's were running fine, and in a lot of cases, if people experienced issues, it was discovered that users installed AMD drivers on top of previous NV drivers without doing a clean driver installation, used underpowered PSU's or did NOT update their OS, BIOS or chipset drivers - so, in some cases, but admittedly, not all of them - it was in fact user error).
    Reply
  • deksman
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    By AMD's own release notes they are still looking into major bugs affecting Navi GPUs coming up on a year after their release, namely:

    Some games may exhibit stutter intermittently during gameplay on Radeon RX 5000 series graphics products.
    Some users may still experience black screen or system hang issues during extended periods of gameplay. AMD will continue to monitor and investigate reports of these issues closely.They didn't even acknowledge this as a problem until February of this year, months after their release, as reported by TomsHardware, WCCFTech, and other outlets.

    If you're spending a premium on a high performance video card or a laptop with a high performance card, you don't need to be concerned with potential issues stemming from a duff driver or series of drivers, especially not after it came out that AMD was silently fixing security holes in the drivers so staying on an older driver set would leave you at risk.

    And no, they don't invest more in driver testing, they haven't for years, that's why issues such as the ones above persist months after release. And it's not just Navi that's having issues after all this time, the Radeon VII is still having black screen issues, among others. This has been the standard fare for AMD for over a decade, I know firsthand because I've used 10 of them over the last 15 years, and finally had to just throw up my hands and switch to nVidia, the final straw being the horrendous Adrenaline 2020 interface.



    Did you read HotHardware's review of it? They benchmarks show that even in Smart Shift mode it was slower in games than the 2070 Max-Q and even the 2060 in one, it put out 50dB of noise and ran 80-85*C while only getting 6 hours of battery life under video playback, yet it cost $1200. For $200 more (HotHardware stated theirs was the $1200 model, the ASUS Zepyrus is $1400 at BestBuy currently) you can get the ASUS Zephyrus that not only lasts 50% longer in video playback, but boasts superior performance, and even 2 hours of gaming on battery power vs the sub 1 hour Dell G5 15 SE. Combine this with the fact that the screen on it doesn't even have 100% sRGB color gamut like the ASUS has (confirmed by Dell sales reps, as I actually was considering it at the time), and you can see how many corners were cut by Dell to get a lower price tag.

    But that's on DELL, not AMD.
    The 5600M is actually pulling similar/same amount of power as refresh rtx 2060 while usually performing between 2060 and 2070 Maxq.

    Specs-wise, 5600M is identical to desktop 5600 except in slightly reduced core and VRAM frequencies, which would still allow it to perform about or between 10% of the desktop version while consuming 90-ish watts of power.

    Dell doesn't have the best track record with cooling, and it was discovered that they didn't exactly use the best one for the task (which was illustrated by the fact that 4800H did score a bit less in Cinebench than say 4800H in Asus).

    Otherwise, the unit actually performs on par with other laptops that have comparable hw, for a lower price no less.
    Oh and the screen can be configured with 144Hz... it may not be 100% sRGB color Gamut, but its more than enough for gaming and productivity, and, again, that's on DELL (not AMD).

    There's nothing wrong in using 4800H and 5600M together if you gave them adequate cooling like other OEM's did when they used 4800H and 1660ti or 2060... it was demonstrated by Dell that 4800H/5600M combo is efficient and powerful... and wanted by many people.
    Reply