Who Controls the User Experience? AMD’s Carrizo Thoroughly Testedby Ian Cutress on February 4, 2016 8:00 AM EST
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.
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.
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ImSpartacus - Friday, February 5, 2016 - linkHoly shit, I haven't seen that many pages in a long time. You don't see this much content very often. Gotta love dat chorizo.
close - Friday, February 5, 2016 - linkImSpartanus, they're just writing a comprehensive article. I'm sure they put in good work with all of them.
ImSpartacus - Friday, February 5, 2016 - linkI think this article provides a pretty delicate and nuanced treatment of chorizo and its place in the market (both potential & actual). There's no doubt that the circumstances demanded it. This was not business as usual and I'm glad Anandtech recognized the need for that additional effort.
We're fooling ourselves if we pretend that any journalistic entity puts the sane amount of effort into every project. We're talking about living, breathing humans, not robots.
fmcjw - Friday, February 5, 2016 - linkI found the language convoluted, verbose, and difficult to read, compared to, say, Anand's straightforward and logical writing:
"Nonetheless, Intel’s product line is a sequence of parts that intersect each other, with low end models equipped with dual core Pentiums and Celerons, stretching into some i3 and i5 territory while still south of $1000. In this mix is Core M, Intel’s 4.5W premium dual core parts found in devices north of $600."
"south of/north of"... can't you just put in "below/above"? And all that "intersecting of parts", can't you just say from the Atom to Pentiums, Celerons, i3's, and i5's....
The whole thing reads like they're paying you to score a high word count. Lots of information to extract here, but it can be 3 pages shorter and take half as long to read.
Cellar Door - Friday, February 5, 2016 - linkThat is why Anandtech has video adds on their main page - designed for people like you. Who simply lack reading comprehension past 8th grade and find it hard to understand. Just watch watch the video on how to loose weight that auto-plays on the side.
Or... try Tom's Hardware - they cater to your demographic.
ImSpartacus - Friday, February 5, 2016 - linkThere's no question that Anand had a powerful way of writing that was uniquely simple yet educated you nevertheless. And for a layman that reads this sort of stuff to learn new information, that's very attractive and I kinda miss it (along with Klug).
However, I give Ian a pass because he at least attempted to use other brand of conveying his ideas. In certain sections he used special table-like fitting to separate "parallel" sections/stances so that the rader would be more apt to compare them. So there's at least some effort, though he surely could do better.
10basetom - Saturday, February 6, 2016 - linkfmcjw does have a point, but in all fairness it is much harder to explain techical stuff in layman terms than it is to be long-wordy. Carl Sagan was the master of it on TV, and Anand was excellent at it on paper.
JMC2000 - Sunday, February 7, 2016 - linkI didn't find anything wrong with the language Ian used, as this is piece is still on a technical level, but can be understood by the layman that knows a bit more than just what the stickers on the outside tell.
To me, the phrase "parts that intersect each other" lays out that there is a myriad of options where configurations overlap, where as saying "from the Atom to Pentiums, Celerons, i3s and i5s" indicates that there is a pricing structure that is related to general CPU performance, which there really isn't when it comes to low-end machines.
plonk420 - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link"south of/north of" sounds better than "greater than/less than," which is more correct than "below/above"
Sushisamurai - Thursday, February 11, 2016 - linkyeah, colorful language is nice. Dumbing down adjectives or descriptions can often construe the true message IMO. This way, it paints a more descriptive/colorful picture.
Keep up the good work Ian.