There are a number of directions for ‘professional grade’ processors in the market, varying from embedded to long-life support to server functionality. AMD’s PRO lines of processors are akin to their consumer counterparts, except they run a guaranteed lifecycle of support with ‘image stability’ (guaranteed OS images) and extended OEM warranties. AMD’s PRO line typically covers both embedded systems via the BGA lower parts and commercial/enterprise systems with socketed units. This week AMD is announcing their PRO line using the latest AMD microarchitecture, Bristol Ridge, along with continued support for customer requested features.

If you’ve ever browsed for an OEM system, or in a brick-and-mortar shop, you may have come across a system labeled something along the lines of ‘PRO A8’ using an AMD APU. I recently wrote a small news piece which involved an HP system in my local store with an OEM-only APU. These PRO parts enable an OEM to build a particular system, either as a business-to-business sale or directly to customers, and guarantee a fixed longevity for replacements to that system. This is a requirement for a lot of government and business electronic installations – the ability to replace like-for-like in the event of failure. AMD states that the unit shipments of their PRO processor line for commercial, enterprise and the public sector has risen by 45% since mid-2014, or a 20.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

The processors announced today are direct analogues of the consumer grade processors announced a couple of weeks ago, identical in specifications but with PRO in the name and a direct focus on support structures, management, virtualization, security and performance comparisons.

AMD 7th Generation Bristol Ridge PRO Processors
L2 Cache CPU Base /
 Turbo (MHz)
GPU SPs GPU Base / 
Turbo (MHz)
PRO A12-9800 2M / 4T 2 MB 3800 / 4200 512 800 / 1108 65W
PRO A10-9700 2M / 4T 2 MB 3500 / 3800 384 720 / 1029 65W
PRO A8-9600 2M / 4T 2 MB 3100 / 3400 384 655 / 900 65W
PRO A6-9500 1M / 2T 1 MB 3500 / 3800 384 720 / 1029 65W
PRO A12-9800E 2M / 4T 2 MB 3100 / 3800 512 655 / 900 35W
PRO A10-9700E 2M / 4T 2 MB 3000 / 3500 384 600 / 847 35W
PRO A6-9500E 1M / 2T 1 MB 3000 / 3400 256 576 / 800 35W

All these processors will support DDR4-2400 as standard, and offer USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) support via the appropriate chipset and Type-C with a re-driver chip to support reversible insertion (this is the same as the consumer platform). These new processors are all socketed parts designed for the AM4 platform for now, with BGA components likely to be declared later down the line.

With the PRO APUs, AMD uses an ARM Cortex-A5 to implement ARM TrustZone, offering software agnostic (compared to Intel which does not) support for hardware-based security. This includes Secure Boot, Content Protection, per-Application security, fTPM 2.0, and support for Microsoft Device Guard, Windows Hello, independent fingerprint security, data protection and Bitlocker, among other things. AMD supports this via the DASH management protocol, which is ultimately CPU agnostic and allows users of other DASH systems to get up to speed.

AMD is positioning the APUs to be comparable to various Intel counterparts.

Performance-wise, for the launch, AMD states that in small form factors at 35W and mid-tier at 65W, performance compared to Intel is within 8% for the CPU, but AMD can offer +50-95% in graphics based or graphics accelerated workloads. In this case, AMD was positioning the PRO A12-9800E against the Core i5-6500T for the CPU comparison, and the PRO A12-9800 against the i5-6500 for the graphics comparison. We’ve asked to get these processors in for testing in order to compare.

The first systems using the new 7th Gen PRO APUs will be a set of HP Elitedesk 705 G3 systems, in Mini, SFF and mini-tower form factors. Due to the way these commercial systems are promoted, pricing and specifications will depend highly on the support contract aligned with the business customers. AMD is keen to point out that other customers will release their Bristol Ridge PRO based systems over the coming months.

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  • damianrobertjones - Saturday, October 8, 2016 - link

    Anything you have to say is trash as soon as you use the word Windoze. Plus no paragraphs is terrible.
  • bill.rookard - Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - link

    Agreed. I'm in the market possibly for a new ground-up build, and from what I've been hearing I really would like to consider an AMD setup. They've got to get it out, and they have to get it right. I understand those are two sometimes conflicting mandates, but if they don't execute, and execute WELL, they're going to be in big trouble.
  • Samus - Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - link

    AMD is still a great option everyone seems to rule out because they "aren't competitive" or run "too hot"

    Both of which aren't true and are just completely bias statements. The average AMD CPU is perfectly competitive within its class and doesn't run much hotter than an equivalent class (desktop) Intel CPU. At idle where most CPU's spend their life, they are virtually identical. Where AMD has trouble competing is simply at the ultra-high end and in the low-power\low-voltage segment.

    I recommend AMD systems to people who
    A) are in the market for a budget desktop
    B) desire mainstream performance (think i3 class)
    C) plan to use integrated graphics for mild gaming

    Technically any one of those points should make AMD a favorable option. But B is the one to keep in mind. Keep your expectations realistic. AMD does NOT have, and doesn't really intend, to compete with Intel's ultra-high performance offerings like X99\LGA2011 or even i7-class CPU's. Their sights are set on the mainstream i3/i5 market where competition is more realistic for them.

    Perhaps Zen will change that, but as it stands, if you are looking for a desktop or larger laptop, AMD is FINE.
  • ddriver - Thursday, October 6, 2016 - link

    The money you save on the CPU will be entirely wasted on the power bill. Power efficiency is abysmal.
  • zodiacfml - Thursday, October 6, 2016 - link

    As an AMD fan, nothing that price can fix. Yet, for me, they are expensive for what they are unless I'd use the integrated 3D graphics for a cheap 1366x768 laptop for gaming. Then again, it ends up performing similar to Intel on high CPU games due to throttling on a limited TDP/cooling mobile device.

    Zen will be the same story, they just won't be competing with Intel's high-end. The question is how aggressive is the pricing.
  • Targon - Monday, October 10, 2016 - link

    Zen won't be "the same story". Intel may remain in the lead, but AMD will become an option for many due to better supporting components combined with good CPU performance. Also, a quad-core AMD vs. Dual-core Intel in the sub $600 price range tend to be fairly well balanced. If Zen is within 10% of the performance of the i7, having more PCI Express lanes and other things where AMD has had an advantage may make Zen a better alternative. I find it pathetic how few PCI Express lanes are in the Intel systems.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - link

    MMMmm....a NUC sized desktop like that mini HP desktop with a 65 watt APU would be delicious.

    Knowing HP though, they will most certainly screw it up, and will probably solder the APU, meaning no upgrading to raven ridge next year.

  • Samus - Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - link

    That isn't HP's call. A lot of A6 series CPU's, for example, were only offered in BGA packages to OEM's.
  • Targon - Monday, October 10, 2016 - link

    The key is if they lock the BIOS to prevent CPU upgrades.
  • D. Lister - Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - link


    Not quite the best of taglines to have.

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