Initial AMD Ryzen 7 4700U Linux Performance Is Very Good
Since AMD Renoir laptops began shipping some weeks ago, I've been on the hunt for an interesting laptop to pick up for Linux testing and to potentially even use as my next main production laptop. Given the successes of AMD Zen 2 on the desktop and server front, I've been very eager to try out a Renoir laptop and last week picked up a Lenovo IdeaPad with Ryzen 7 4700U and the experience so far has been very good and with captivating Linux performance.
Between supply chain issues leading to Renoir laptops not launching as quickly as many would like paired with the limited models available in quantity so far mostly being paired with NVIDIA graphics, it took some weeks to find an interesting model for Linux testing. Paired with having to buy nearly all of the laptops we test at Phoronix retail for Linux testing (and COVID-19 slamming the ad revenues), I was pleased when finally finding the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 (14) for just $816 USD (normal retail price ~$850 USD)... The Ryzen 7 4700U with eight cores and integrated graphics, 16GB of RAM, 1080p display, 512GB NVMe SSD storage, and all of the other basics. Quite the deal.
While I've gone through many ThinkPads over the past two decades, this was my first time buying an IdeaPad and was pleasantly surprised with the build quality. While I've just been testing out this laptop for several days so far, it's been working out quite well and so far impressed by the hardware itself. The BIOS does allow easily disabling UEFI Secure Boot and AMD PSP as another plus.
The Ryzen 7 4700U is an eight core part (no SMT), 2.0GHz base clock, 4.1GHz boost clock, 8MB L3 cache, and a default TDP of 15 Watts. The Vega-based graphics have 7 GPU cores.
When booting the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS install media off USB, everything appeared to "just work" with the display quickly lighting up and hitting the GNOME 3.36 desktop. The Ubiquity installer picked right up, the WiFi was detected and working, and no NVMe SSD storage detection issues.
Overall everything seemed to be smooth sailing, but after rebooting into the new installation it was quickly noted that LLVMpipe rendering was in use rather than the actual Renoir graphics. Ubuntu 20.04 LTS is shipping with the Linux 5.4 kernel and Mesa 20.0, which that kernel is slightly too old for Renoir out-of-the-box. So I fetched the latest Linux 5.6 stable kernel from the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel PPA and rebooted. Bam, graphics working! The graphics are working fine though in this article is primarily focusing on the CPU side performance.
The graphics support were one of the main worries going into this Linux testing given some past troubled launches, but long story short when switching to Linux 5.6 the Ryzen 7 4700U graphics on the Lenovo IdeaPad have been working without hitting any troubles yet. Another caveat discovered is needing Linux 5.7 Git if wanting the battery reporting to work.
I'll have a lot of benchmarks from this laptop coming up but for today is just an initial preview against a few other laptops running Ubuntu Linux. Tests looking more at the efficiency and especially the graphics performance relative to Intel Gen9/Gen11 will be up in the coming days.