AMD's New AI Laptop Chips Will Work With Copilot+

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AMD CEO Lisa Su took the stage at Computex 2024 yesterday to reveal the company’s long-awaited Zen 5 CPUs, which include both powerful new desktop processors, and in a surprise move, its first-ever Copilot+ ready AI chips.

The CPUs will launch in July and include models for both desktop and laptop. Desktop models will focus on continued gains in more traditional tasks like gaming, while laptop models will now more directly compete with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X chips.

Overall, new desktop models include Ryzen 5 9600X, Ryzen 7 9700X, Ryzen 9 9900X, and Ryzen 9 9950X, while new laptop models will start with Ryzen AI 9 HX 370 and Ryzen AI 9 365. This means desktop PCs will have almost a full lineup of new chips this summer (although AMD is sure to release additional, more specialized processors later on), but laptop users will have to wait for more affordable versions.

While manufacturer numbers should always be taken with a grain of salt, AMD promises that its top-of-the-line Ryzen 9 9950X chip will boast up to 56% faster productivity (in Blender) and up to 23% faster gaming (in Horizon Zero Dawn) over Intel’s competing Core i9-14900K chip. 

In a press briefing with The Verge, AMD senior technical marketing manager Donny Woligroski also said Zen 5 in general will boast “up to twice the AI performance of the last gen.”

While desktop PCs can certainly run AI software such as Photoshop, where that AI boost will perhaps be most prominent is in new AMD-powered laptops. In a rebranding of its Ryzen 9 laptop chips to Ryzen AI, the company is emphasizing its 50 TOPS neural processing unit, up from 16 TOPS in the last generation. On paper, this should allow for more computations-per-second than either the 38 TOPS unit in Apple’s M4 chip or the 45 TOPS unit in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X chips.

The details are a bit technical, but it shows that traditional, x86 chips are just as ready to take on AI as Arm-based processors like Apple’s and Qualcomm’s. While the latter can boast strong battery life and have made recent gains in performance, they can struggle with app compatibility, and AMD is promising that it can still reign when it comes to raw power.

It’s also great news for anyone wanting to move to Copilot+ who doesn’t want to deal with emulating x86 programs on Arm, since AMD’s press conference confirmed that its new AI chips will power Copilot+ laptops from partners including MSI, Asus, Lenovo, and more. Previously, Qualcomm’s Arm chips seemed to have a grip on Microsoft’s new AI laptops.

Pricing for these chips has yet to be revealed, though PC builders can rest assured that they will all work with AMD’s existing AM5 socket, so there’s no need to upgrade your motherboard quite yet. Similarly, those with old-gen AM4 sockets are getting some additional support as well, with updated Ryzen 9 5900XT and Ryzen 7 5800XT chips also set to launch this July.

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