Back in those seemingly distant days of CES 2020, AMD unveiled a new technology called SmartShift that was set to make processors, well, smarter. It turns out that only one laptop in 2020 will use the technology.
Discovered via a tweet from AMD's Chief Architect of Gaming Solutions, Frank Azor, it seems only one laptop will have the tech - the Dell G5 15 SE. In the tweet, Azor explained, "it's a brand new technology and to Dell's credit, they jumped on it first. I explained reasons why during my interview with PCWorld. No more SmartShift laptops are coming this year but the team is working hard on having more options ASAP for 2021."
The interview in question was PCWorld's "The Full Nerd" podcast where Azor explained that laptop roadmaps are planned at least a year in advance and that a lot of PC vendors simply didn't expect the performance boost from Ryzen 4000 that actually came about, so they didn't go all in with AMD's tech. As it takes time to adapt, that's why we haven't seen such firms take advantage of Ryzen and Radeon parts so quickly just yet.
SmartShift is designed for use in systems that contain both an AMD CPU and discrete graphics card. It works by shifting performance resources between the two, depending on what you're doing with the laptop at the time. Basically, two brains are better than one. However, because it's such an advanced feature, it requires vendors to specifically plan for it. Even if a laptop has both AMD CPUs and GPUs, it doesn't automatically have SmartShift. Without the aforementioned roadmaps planning around the concept, it's just not possible.
For now, only the Dell G5 15 SE has the capabilities. That's a relatively unusual move given Dell's general preference for all things Intel, but one that could give them an edge amongst consumers keen to try out the new technology. The system uses a Ryzen 5 4600H CPU and a Radeon RX 5600M GPU with AMD reckoning that the hardware tweak gives "games up to 14 percent more performance averaged across select games".
As a side note, the PlayStation 5 will also utilise SmartShift when it launches later this year.
For many of us, that's going to be our only taste of SmartShift until more laptops embrace the technology.
September 18 2020 | 18:30