Platform Analysis

AMD provided the press with a block diagram of the Renoir APU at the time of the launch of the Zen 2 APUs. These APUs are monolithic dies, and true SoCs with all I/Os being sourced from the APU without a platform controller hub in the picture.

The above layout needs to be studied in conjunction with the design of the 4X4 BOX-4800U's motherboard. The various I/Os of the system (as well as internal components) are enabled using the following configuration.

An idea of the distribution of the various PCIe lanes can be obtained from the above diagram:

  • PCIe 3.0 x4 and a SATA port multiplexed behind the M.2 SSD slot (PCI Express x8 Bus #4)
  • PCIe 3.0 x1 for the Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 160 MHz WLAN card (PCI Express x1 Bus #3)
  • PCIe 3.0 x1 for the Realtek RTL8125 Gaming 2.5GbE Ethernet Controller (PCI Express x1 Bus #1)
  • PCIe 3.0 x1 for the Realtek RTL8168/RTL8111 GbE Ethernet Controller (PCI Express x1 Bus #2)

Other aspects of interest include the distribution of various USB ports - particularly in terms of bandwidth sharing. For example, we expect ports 'B' and 'C' behind the same root hub to share bandwidth. Note that the PCI Express x16 Bus #5 includes the two USB 3.1 controllers as well as the integrated GPU. The two Type-C ports in the front panel also act as conduits for two display outputs from the latter.

In the remainder of this review, we will first look at BAPCo's SYSmark 25, followed by various UL benchmarks and miscellaneous workloads. We also present some gaming benchmarks. A detailed look at the HTPC credentials of the system is followed by testing of the power consumption and thermal solution.

Introduction BAPCo SYSmark 25
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  • redwingsbb - Saturday, November 28, 2020 - link

    I don't think spikebike was saying that they would wait 2 years to buy I think they were saying it would be interesting to wait until CES in a couple of months to see whether there could be Zen 3 based NUC coming out in the next few months which in their opinion would be a big enough upgrade over a Ryzen 4000 based NUC to last them a full year or two longer.
  • ifThenError - Monday, November 30, 2020 - link

    You are very right, Zen3 in a small form factor would be a formidable plattform for many use cases. I'd happily swap my old box for such a device.

    Unfortunately I wouldn't expect this to happen anytime soon. Currently there is no such thing as a Zen3 based APU. The Zen2 based Renoir has just been released and still seems to have limited availability. It is more than a year behind the desktop and server Zen2 chips. Even if a Zen3 mobile chip was anounced in January, we would probably still be at least a year away from any SFF using it.

    Looks like the devices from Asus and ASRock are your best bet, or you need a lot of patience.
  • Valantar - Thursday, November 26, 2020 - link

    Pretty damn impressive seeing this hit above 1300 in Time Spy and nearly 14000 in night raid. My ITX 4650G with the iGPU@2100, RAM @3800c16 and IF@1900 hits >1600 TS and >17000 NR, but that also consumes ~100W from the wall. With this sitting in the 50s of watts except for initial spikes, that's very good performance for the tiny power draw.

    Really looking forward to how boxes like this evolve with DDR5.

    Oh, and the dual NICs are brilliant. The 4350G version of this would make for a great PFSense box.
  • DanaGoyette - Thursday, November 26, 2020 - link

    Realtek Virtual IPMI, on the Platform Analysis page....

    huh, does this have out-of-band management capabilities? If so, it could be useful as a server.
  • ganeshts - Thursday, November 26, 2020 - link

    Yes, the 1G port has Realtek DASH enabled. I am actually investigating that feature right now (couldn't complete it in time for publishing the review), but information / guides are hard to come by. Realtek's own software that talks to DASH clients is a mess / very user unfriendly.
  • watersb - Saturday, December 19, 2020 - link

    And here (for reference) is the DASH overview article. Excellent!
  • zakelwe - Friday, November 27, 2020 - link

    Who cares about this? Where are the graphics card reviews from Amd and nVidia ?
  • abufrejoval - Friday, November 27, 2020 - link

    I had ordered the PN50 in summer with the Ryzen 4800U when a major EU retailer promised only 2-3 days deliver delays. Alas, the only thing that moved was the delivery delay, which increased and wound up as unknown. The Ryzen 4800U SoCs requires perfectly binned Renoir chips and those are likely to remain rare even while they are being replaced by 5800U chips (eve more attractive and harder to get?).

    I had to resort to team blue, which has some advantages in my KVM live-migration scenarios and could become especially interesting: if I can get Thunderbolt 40Gbit networking to work, I’d use that for the cluster/gluster interconnect and switch the USB 2.5Gbit NICs to the front-end. ASRock is doing the right thing here, I wish 2.5Gbit had long since become default everywhere, especially since I can’t believe Realtek charges more than a few cents extra for the speed uplift.

    In the mean-time I’d just like to report that the NUC8i7BEH has had its price reduced to around €300 including EU VAT, while the BXNUC10I7FNH currently goes for €450. That comes down to €75/core and pretty much to core/€ parity with the 4800H at €600, which is why I got one of each in the end. Their combined idle power may actually not be higher than the AMD unit, while peak heat and noise are very well managed via OS independent BIOS settings on Intel NUCs these days.

    The Bean Canyon’s Iris 655 iGPU main advantage is that it doesn’t cost one cent extra vs the ordinary i7-10700U UHD630, just as the 128MB eDRAM are given away for free and that L4 cache does at least deliver measurable performance advantages to the CPU, even if they aren’t noticeable. Both give an i7-7700K a run for its money on bursty desktop/server workloads, but less so as members of a render or compile farm.

    While I’ll use both pretty much only for CentOS/oVirt, I did test them intensively on Windows with all sorts of graphics loads. AT basically infected me with curiosity about these larger Iris iGPUs years ago. 3DMark Night Raid at 1920x1080 IMHO shows their basic potential and why Apple used them as their main staple for a while, but the most impressive demo remains Google Maps with their AI created 3D view in Chrome (much slower in Firefox, unfortunately), which not only runs smoother on my 4k display, than Microsoft’s 2020 FlightSim on my RTX 2080ti/Ryzen 7 5800X game rig, but actually reflects what’s on the ground. FlightSim resorts to pure parametric random algorithms, which create ground structures and traffic patterns that not only carry no resemblance with ground truth, but don’t make sense, even at propeller speeds.

    While I would probably still rationally prefer NUC innards as Mini-ITX boards for better options on cooling and general modularity, I’ve come to appreciate those NUCs mostly because the chassis and power supply come basically for free and at excellent build quality, while expansion on mobile SoCs is mostly external anyway.
  • Gadgety - Saturday, November 28, 2020 - link

    Nothing on physical size or noise?
  • Gadgety - Saturday, November 28, 2020 - link

    110.0 x 117.5 x 47.85mm

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