Rumor mill: The Surface Pro X hasn’t seen any significant SoC upgrades since it was first released in 2019, apart from a slight clock spurt with the SQ2 chip in 2020. However, it now looks like Microsoft and AMD are getting involved in something with RDNA- Graphics work to keep powering a next-gen Surface Pro X – and maybe other devices too.
If you believe a thread in the Korean tech forum Clien, Microsoft and AMD are working together to develop an upcoming laptop-class processor that, following Samsung’s Exynos 2200, uses mRDNA graphics paired with an ARM CPU.
While it is expected that it will only use Cortex-X1 cores compared to the Exynos X2s, it will likely also use significantly higher clock speeds if the 3+ GHz clocks of the SQ processors are a bit. That should be a sizable advantage over the Samsung chip, more than enough to negate the 16 percent IPC difference that Arm claims between the two designs.
Plus, it should be able to accommodate more of these cores – while the Exynos only has a single X2 as a “super” core – and maintain that performance far better with the warmth and performance latitude of a laptop case.
AMD is working with Microsoft to equip a powerful ARM laptop processor in Surface.
Target performance: lower than the GTX1050 class but much better than the Qualcomm chip that uses the old bow. and in the overall light ARM laptops.
GPU: 4WGP, 8CU
Source https://t.co/ktt0SfgWjV https://t.co/vqkzQEwEjx
– Tron ❂ (@FrontTron) October 1, 2021
On the GPU side, the processor will appear to be using an mRDNA2 GPU like that of the Exynos design with 8 CUs, a setup that puts it on the same footing as the Steam Deck. The forum posts make it clear that the performance is comparable to that of the GTX 1050 (but weaker than). Below where the Valve handheld is suspected, the deck also uses the full RDNA 2 graphics, which is fed with high-speed LP DDR5 RAM. In any case, the Microsoft AMD chip should still clearly beat the graphics solutions in existing Qualcomm products.
An Exynos modem should bring 5G connectivity, but that seems to be the extent of Samsung’s involvement in this project. It was originally intended to be made in the 5 nm process of Korean titanium, but low yields forced it to be relocated to TSMC’s 5 nm knot instead; the resulting delay would be responsible for the lack of an updated Surface Pro X for 2021.
However, there is also a significant difference in process technology between the two foundries, with previous Anandtech testing showing that Samsung’s 5LPE only narrowly matched TSMC’s previous node. Given the current fierce competition in laptop processors between AMD’s Ryzen offerings, Apple’s M1, and the upcoming heterogeneous parts of Intel’s Alder Lake, more wins would be more than for a device that is still burdened by the clutter of Windows-on-Arm welcome.