At Computex earlier this year, AMD announced a processor called the “Mendocino” that should bring modern technology and 12-hour battery life to laptops in the unexciting but important $400-$700 price range. Today, the company is releasing Mendocino in the form of three Athlon and Ryzen processors, collectively known as the 7020 series. According to AMD, laptops with these Mendocino-based processors will be available from the fourth quarter of 2022, which is just around the corner; Starting systems include Lenovo’s IdeaPad 1, Acer’s Aspire 3, and a 17-inch laptop from HP.
The processor in the 7020 series is the least interesting element. It’s a quad-core, eight-threaded CPU (in the Ryzen chips; the Athlon chip is dual-core) based on the 2019 Zen 2 architecture previously found in Ryzen desktop processors of the 3000 series and 4000 and 5000 series mobile processors. A Zen 2 CPU should be fast enough to make most basic browsing and office apps feel fast, and they’re preferable to Intel’s Pentium and Celeron Silver chips (and likely many of Intel’s upcoming processors, too). But they will be slower than many Ryzen 5000- and 6000-series CPUs, as well as quad-core-or-better 11th-gen and higher Core CPUs from Intel.
All 7020-series CPUs include a new GPU based on AMD’s RDNA2 GPU architecture, which is also found in the Radeon RX 6000-series graphics cards, Ryzen 6000-series laptop processors, and upcoming Ryzen 7000-series Desktop processors can be found. AMD integrates four of its Graphics Compute Units (CUs) into each 7020-series CPU in a GPU it calls the Radeon 610M. That’s a third of the GPU cores found in high-end Ryzen 6000 parts, but they should still be enough for very light gaming – AMD’s press materials mention 720p gaming in competitive games like League of Legends, CS:GOand DOTA 2.
Depending on the port selection of the laptop, the GPU can also drive up to four displays simultaneously, including the integrated display panel. And as RDNA2 GPUs, they get the same video encoding and decoding support as higher-end models, including decoding support for the AV1 codec.
Like the Ryzen 6000 processors, these Mendocino chips are built in a 6nm process by TSMC and also require LPDDR5 memory – in the short term the commitment to pricier DDR5 memory seems to be at odds with cheap laptops, but all sorts of DDR5 RAM should steadily become cheaper over the next year or two as more devices support it and production ramps up. The processors also contain Microsoft Pluton security hardware.
The Mendocino CPUs are our first look at AMD’s new laptop processor naming scheme in action. The “7” at the beginning of the number simply indicates AMD will include it in its 2023 processor lineup, while the “2” in the third digit indicates it will use the Zen 2 processor architecture. The second digit ranges from 2 for the low-end dual-core Athlon Gold 7220U to 5 for the quad-core Ryzen 5 7520U, with the quad-core Ryzen 3 7320U in between the two.