AMD’s Ryzen processors have made a big splash in the desktop and mobile PC space in recent years. Some of the company’s latest mobile chips, for example, offer speedy CPU performance, high core counts, a built-in AI accelerator, and integrated graphics that’s competitive with an entry-level discrete GPU.

So what’s next for AMD’s Ryzen processor lineup? It looks like the company could take a page out of Intel and ARM’s playbooks by building hybrid processors that combine different types of CPU cores onto a single chip.

In an interview with Tom’s Hardware, AMD chief technology officer Mark Papermaster confirmed rumors that the company is developing chips that have “high-performance cores mixed with power-efficient cores mixed with acceleration.”

This isn’t a new idea: ARM has been designing chips with what it calls big.LITTLE architecture for more than a decade, and Intel has adopted a similar hybrid architecture for its mainstream chips in recent years as well: most 12th-gen and 13th-gen Intel Core processors feature a combination of Performance and Efficiency CPU cores.

Theoretically this allows for better performance and improved efficiency. The high-performance cores kick in when you’re running tasks that can fully take advantage of them, but the energy-efficient cores can handle most lightweight tasks. That helps lead to longer battery life for laptops and lower electric bills for desktops and servers.

And since all of the CPU cores can work simultaneously, it’s not an either-or kind of deal. Have a chip with 4 Performance cores and 8 Efficiency cores? Then you’ve got a 12-core computer that can leverage all of those CPU cores at the same time for multitasking or multi-threaded applications… even if some will work harder than others.

In practice, things are sometimes a bit more complicated though. For example, laptops with 11th-gen Intel Core processors often got better battery life than models with their 12th-core equivalents. That’s because while Intel added energy-efficient cores to its 12th-gen processors, the company also allowed its chips to consumer more power. 13th-gen chips based on Intel’s Raptor Lake architecture are said to balance performance and power consumption a little better, but I haven’t personally tested a Raptor Lake laptop.

It’ll be interesting to see if AMD an avoid these sorts of issues if and when it delivers its first chips with hybrid CPU architecture.

But Patternmaster notes that the company is already using hybrid architecture to a certain degree. The CPU cores are just part of what makes the latest Ryzen chips tick. There are also integrated graphics, an FPGA for hardware-accelerated AI performance, and other components.

You can read more about AMD’s plans for the future at Tom’s Hardware.

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  1. We’ve known about this for awhile, but had not much details. And while Intel’s execution has been mixed, I don’t actually see it all that successful. It made their products use more power, and barely keep up with the competition. Hopefully AMD doesn’t follow suit.

    A Pro-Gamer move from AMD would be to introduce it’s hybrid architecture with Zen6 and AM6, but…. by shifting it’s x86 Zen from Big Cores into Very Very Big Cores, and for its Small Cores using ARM processor (like the Cortex-A78, but newer). This would be very useful for consumers, Microsoft, and ergo AMD. They can then scale it up from Tablets, Laptops, Thick Notebooks, Mini Towers, High-End Desktops, and even Servers. Because the ARM cores will handle the more basic tasks, or run the OS, letting the Very Big Cores have breathing room to run the complex and difficult tasks. Basically the ARM cores would act like an accelerator in the processor or SoC, to actually add efficiency and increase real-world battery life.

    1. That has not been my experience, but it’s highly dependant on the cooling system the computer has. My intel laptop runs way too hot when all cores are utilized, my ryzen system – while the fans do kick on high – remains cool. But again it really depends on the cooling system in place. My ryzen system is a gaming laptop, the intel one just a SOHO system with an anemic cooling system, FWIW.

      By the way, something about AMD that really excites me is they plan on releasing their version of an open source firmware in 2026 called openSil! I’m super excited for that and the timing couldn’t be better because DDR6 should be out by then!

      My experience has been that Intel chips typically run hotter.