Wednesday, May 22, 2024

AMD Ryzen Z1, Z1 Extreme CPUs for Gaming Handhelds Announced; Asus ROG Ally Confirmed to be First Device

AMD has officially announced its heavily rumoured Ryzen Z1 series of ultra-low-power CPUs for handheld computers, including gaming devices. The new processors are based on the same Zen 4 core architecture as the current-gen Ryzen 7000 series desktop CPUs, and will feature integrated RDNA3 graphics cores, which the Radeon RX 7000 series GPUs are built around. AMD hopes to create a new market for X86-compatible handheld gaming consoles,  designed along the lines of the popular Steam Deck. Existing devices such as the Ayaneo Air series and the upcoming Ayaneo 2 are built around AMD’s Ryzen U-series low-power CPUs, but have so far remained niche even within gaming circles.

The Asus ROG Ally gaming handheld, which was first announced on April 1, has been confirmed to be the first shipping device based on a Ryzen Z1 series CPU. More specific details about its price, launch date and other specifications will be announced by Asus on May 11 at 7:30pm (IST).

Two CPU models have so far been announced: the Ryzen Z1, featuring six multithreaded ‘Zen 4’ CPU cores along with four RDNA3 GPU cores, and the more powerful Ryzen Z1 Extreme with eight CPU cores and a whopping 12 GPU cores. AMD promises industry-leading performance and battery life, for an “elite gaming experience” in a highly portable form factor. Using the same hardware as mainstream AMD CPUs and GPUs means that handheld devices based on Ryzen Z1 processors will support the company’s Radeon Super Resolution graphics upscaling technology, as well as other features such as Radeon Chill for power saving and AMD Link game streaming.

On the platform level, devices based on Ryzen Z1 CPUs will support USB4, LPDDR5 and LPDDR5X RAM, and of course support for Windows, which opens up a whole ecosystem of games and gaming stores beyond Steam. Devices will also be capable of functioning as full-fledged computers running everyday Windows software, especially when connected to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse. As per AMD’s statements, users will also be able to take advantage of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription service for gaming on the go. 

No official performance, temperature or battery life figures have been released yet, but Asus’s announcement on May 11 should shed some light on what potential buyers can expect. However, given AMD’s continued push into the thin-and-light laptop space and claims of delivering premium graphics performance with its Ryzen 7xxx mobile CPUs, it will be interesting to see how this turns out and whether more manufacturers announce gaming handhelds based on these CPUs before or at the upcoming PC-centric Computex trade show.  

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