AMD turbocharges mainstream Chromebook CPUs with Ryzen / Athlon 7020 C-Series chips

Upgrades make AMD's latest Chromebook chips worth investigating.

AMD Chromebook

AMD has been producing Chromebook-optimised chips since 2019. Last year witnessed the largest step-change in performance with the introduction of Zen 3-based Ryzen 5000 C-Series models sporting up to eight cores and 16 threads wrapped inside a 15W TDP. Today, focus turns to 7020 C-Series, though performance takes a back step as AMD pushes towards mainstream rather than premium Chromebooks.

In fact, 7020 C-Series are replacements for 2020’s 3000 C-Series. If you recall, those processors use the Zen / Zen+ CPU architecture tied to RX Vega graphics, built on a 12 / 14nm process. 2023’s refresh sees the needle move to Zen 2 and RDNA 2 together with a 6nm process. Maximum core count and TDP remains at four cores / eight threads and 15W, respectively. Put simply, AMD is updating in-market technology as it’s becoming less performant compared to the competition.

Four models are split equally between Ryzen and Athlon. There are no surprises here, and it’s easy to see the Ryzen provenance; Mendocino-based Ryzen 5 7520U and Ryzen 3 7320U chips debuted September 20, 2022. It’s not immediately clear how these C-suffixed processors are different, if at all.

Nevertheless, it’s the first time AMD has paired Radeon 610M RDNA 2 graphics with Athlon CPU cores, designed ostensibly for price-sensitive markets.

It’s interesting AMD compares Ryzen 7320C’s performance chops against the eight-core Arm Cortex A78 / A55 MediaTek Kompanio 1380 SoC, but it makes sense when one considers it powers numerous Chromebooks priced between £300-£400 from big-name vendors such as HP, Acer and Asus.

Offering an average 26 per cent performance uplift, according to internal benchmarks, whilst chugging along on battery for nearly four more hours, the specs appear robust. A similar story unfolds when AMD compares the same processor against an x86 rival in the form of the Intel Core i3-N305.

AMD expects Dell and Asus to be the first purveyors of 7020 C-Series silicon, promising availability this quarter. Pricing will determine if AMD’s further incursion into the Chromebook space make sense.