AMD announces refreshed Ryzen 8040 ‘Hawk Point’ mobile chips and the excitement is, well, not particularly exciting

After months of speculation and the odd leak, AMD has finally announced the first models in its new lineup of processors to feature the Ryzen 8000 branding at its Advancing AI event in San Jose, California. Specifically, a raft of new mobile chips under the codename “Hawk Point” were unveiled, although those of you expecting something particularly exciting may be left wanting.

These new chips will still use the same Zen 4 CPU cores and RDNA 3 GPU architecture as the previous generation, but AMD says the new Ryzen 8040 processors can deliver up to a 1.4X increase in AI workloads compared to the previous Phoenix 7040 series thanks to an updated on-die dedicated accelerator AMD refers to as the Neural Processing Unit, or NPU. Otherwise the core counts and frequencies remain mostly the same, apart from some models that actually appear to have reduced specs compared to the equivalent current generation chips. 

Even as refreshes go this seems to be something of a damp squib, as scrolling through the line-up there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of change from the previous chips beyond the claimed improvement in AI performance. There appears to be little difference between the top of the line Ryzen 9 8945HS and its predecessor, the 7940HS, as both still feature eight cores, 16 threads, and a 5.2GHz boost frequency. 

Further down the stack some of the lesser models actually feature lower base clock frequencies compared to their previous generation cousins, and while this might deliver slightly better power efficiency than the previous chips it’s a little disappointing to see what is essentially a downgrade in some specs compared to the outgoing generation. 

When it comes to APU gaming performance, AMD’s slides indicate that the 8940H (which, as Tom’s Hardware points out, doesn’t exist as far as SKUs go so is likely to be the 8945HS) is 1.8X faster overall in the benchmarks than the Intel Core i9 13900H at 1080p low settings, so it certainly seems to be a capable chip if AMD’s figures are to be believed. Still, the integrated Iris Xe graphics on the Intel chip are not exactly known for their extreme performance, so a significant gaming victory for the 8945HS may ring somewhat hollow.

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AMD also took the opportunity to tease their next-generation processor line-up codenamed Strix Point, along with some rather substantial performance claims. These new processors are set to use a next-gen XDNA 2 engine that AMD claims will deliver up to 3x the AI performance of XDNA 1, currently used in the 7040 “Phoenix” series of mobile chips. Little is known about these new processors otherwise, but here’s hoping they could potentially provide a more significant leap than the Hawk Point chips announced here.

Given that this was billed as the Advancing AI event it’s no surprise that AI performance was the talk of the day, but despite leaks indicating things were heading this way, it’s still vaguely disappointing not to see a significant movement forwards towards better performance overall. 

With handheld PC gaming on the rise and AMD APUs ruling the roost in that particular segment, it seems like it’s down to AMD to deliver the mobile gaming performance goods, and at the moment things seem to be becoming a little more stagnant than we might have liked.

It looks like at this rate our hopes lie in some significant performance leaps from the teased Strix Point processors when they finally break cover, supposedly in mid-2024 if recent leaks prove to be accurate.

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