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AMD’s Athlon and Ryzen 7020 series processors are budget chips that pair up to four Zen 2 CPU cores with two RDNA 2 graphics cores, delivering surprisingly decent performance at a low price point. So after making their debut in Windows laptops and handhelds, it’s unsurprising to see AMD expanding its Mendocino processor lineup with new versions designed for Chromebooks.
The chip maker says Chromebooks with the new Athlon and Ryzen 7020 C-Series processors should begin to hit the streets by the end of June, with some of the first models coming from companies including Asus and Dell.
In fact, it looks like Asus may have quietly unveiled its first Mendocino-powered Chromebook a few months ago when it added details for the Asus Chromebook CM34 Flip (CM3401FFA) to a product catalog. This week the company officially introduced the laptop, which should be coming soon.
That laptop has a 14 inch, 16:10 WUXGA touchscreen display, a 360-degree hinge, pen support, WiFi 6E, an optional fingerprint sensor, and an AMD Ryzen 5 7520C processor.
Dell’s first Chromebook with Mendocino processor options will be the Latitude 3445, which is a 14 inch model with up to a 1920 x 1200 pixel display. up to 16GB of RAM, eMMC and PCIe NVMe storage options, and up to a Ryzen 5 7520C processor.
Wondering how the new 7020 C-series chips differ from the Mendocino processors AMD launched last year for Windows laptops? They have a C in their name. Honestly, that’s about it – AMD has been offering C-Series chips to Chromebook makers for a few years, and they’re always nearly identical to some of the company’s existing chips in all but name.
This time around, you can basically take a look at the company’s 7020U series chips and swap out the U for a C to get a pretty good idea of the specs for the Chromebook variants:
|Ryzen 7020 Series “Mendocino” for budget computing|
|Model||CPU Gen & node||Cores / Threads||Base / Boost CPU freq||Cache||Graphics||RAM||USB4||TDP|
|Ryzen 5 7520C / Ryzen 5 7520U||Zen 2||4 / 8||2.8 GHz / 4.3 GHz||6MB||Radeon 610M|
(2 x RDNA 2)
|Ryzen 3 7320C / Ryzen 3 7320U||Zen 2||4 / 8||2.4 GHz / 4.1 GHz||6MB||Radeon 610M|
(2 x RDNA 2)
|Athlon Gold 7220C / Athlon Gold 7220U||Zen 2||2 / 4||2.4 GHz / 3.7 GHz||5MB||Radeon 610M|
(2 x RDNA 2)
|Athlon Silver 7120C / Athlon Silver 7120U||Zen 2||2 / 2||2.4 GHz / 3.5 GHz||3MB||Radeon 610M|
(2 x RDNA 2)
There is one key difference between the C and U-series chips though: security features. AMD tells AnandTech the 7020C Series processor “are optimized for ChromeOS, including different fusing specifically for ChromeOS security features.”
The one key thing that may difference regular Mendocino and this might be Coreboot support. AMD has yet to support Coreboot for their regular notebook processor, while the use of Coreboot seems mandated by Google for ChromeOS devices.
Beware of Microsoft Pluton. I’ve only just started reading about it, but apparently it’s worse for privacy. As of AMD 6000 series processors, AMD processors incorporate Microsoft Pluton.
This is a subject of interest for me and some others. The same goes for disabling Intel ME.
Mind if I give a shower thought here, cause it’s something I was thinking of just yesterday. I was reading about security vulnerabilities discovered in TPM. Someone with the right device can apparently hook up a couple wires and eventually extract your secret keys. I use LUKS which requires a password, and have TPM disabled (PSP on my AMD system). So this issue isn’t a problem with me.
I understand some may want the convenience of TPM so they don’t have to enter a password every time to boot up, but I just prefer the old school way and enter a password to unlock my HDD. It seems like with technology like this, it creates more problems than it solves, and I prefer the simpler way myself.
I’m keeping an eye on Pluton. I don’t know much about it yet, but I don’t like what I’ve been reading.
Just buyer beware, all current AMD processors have it. Intel, strangely enough, has held out thus far.
/end shower thought.
Ryzen 5 7520 and Ryzen 3 7320 look pretty close in performance… same with Athlon Gold and Silver. Hopefully qualification by similarity was used. Finally the school kids get a decent AMD experience.