AMD's new Ryzen processors are aimed at gamers and PC enthusiasts who want a high-performance CPU. Ryzen processors are available for desktop PCs, and will soon be in laptops and servers. Ryzen is the brand name for the chips which are based on AMD's new 'Zen' core architecture.

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We've reviewed the Ryzen 7 1800X and 1700, but there are more processors in the range, including four mid-range Ryzen 5 models. We've summarised the lineup along with their prices in the table below. See also: AMD vs Intel

The flagship eight-core Ryzen 7 1800X costs only £499 ($499) - half the price of Intel's eight-core i7-6900K. However, it's the mid-range chips which are likely to be the big sellers, and the Ryzen 5 1600X is claimed to outperform the Intel Core i5-7600K by almost 70 percent in the multithreaded Cinebench R15 test. 

It's obvious how the naming scheme is designed to help buyers: Ryzen 7 = Intel Core i7, and Ryzen 5 = Intel Core i5. There will be a Ryzen 3 coming, but AMD hasn't said anything about this lower range apart from that it will release 3-series CPUs in the second half of 2017.

Ryzen prices and specs

Product Line

Model

Cores / Threads

Base Clock (GHz)

Boost Clock (GHz)

TDP (Watts)

Included Cooler

Price

Ryzen 7

1800X

8 / 16

3.6

4.0

95

N/A

£499 / $499

Ryzen 7

1700X

8 / 16

3.4

3.8

95

N/A

£399 / $399

Ryzen 7

1700

8 / 16

3.0

3.7

65

N/A

£329 / $329

Ryzen 5

1600X

6 / 12

3.6

4.0

95

N/A

£249 / $249

Ryzen 5

1600

6 / 12

3.2

3.6

65

Wraith Spire

£219 / $219

Ryzen 5

1500X

4 / 8

3.5

3.7

65

Wraith Spire

£189 / $189

Ryzen 5

1500

4 / 8

3.2

3.4

65

Wraith Spire

£169 / $169

Here are some of the other things you need to know:

  • CrossFire SLI will be available only on X370 motherboards
  • Every Ryzen chip can be overclocked
  • Overclocking is supported only on motherboards with X370, X300 and B350 chipsets
  • Motherboards will support plenty of the latest features including NVMe and DDR4 RAM
  • You can't install a Ryzen processor in an older AM3+ motherboard - it needs an AM4 socket

When is the AMD Ryzen release date?

AMD is co-ordinated a worldwide launch on 2 March for Ryzen 7 chips. The four Ryzen 5 CPUs will go on sale 11 April worldwide. 

Laptops with Ryzen processors will launch in the second half of the year, and these have the codename Raven Ridge.

Sever versions will also launch sometime between July and December 2017. They are codenamed Naples.

Right now, Ryzen is just a CPU, but AMD will also launch Ryzen APUs (accelerated processing unit - a CPU with a built-in graphics processing unit in one chip). The APUs are essentially made for those who don't have or intend to buy a separate graphics card. Rumour has it that the Ryzen APU processors will have comparable graphics performance to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles - not bad going.

AMD Zen processor - CPU

Ryzen requires a new motherboard because it is compatible with the new AM4 socket which includes DDR4 memory support.

Also read: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 & 1070 vs AMD Radeon RX 480.

What is AMD Ryzen?

AMD has been making processors for a long time and Zen is the name of the new 'core architecture' around which a whole family of products will be based. One of these is the newly announced Ryzen processor. This is not a single CPU, but rather a range (just like Athlon back in the day). Ryzen CPUs will be available for desktop PCs, laptops and even servers.

The x86 Zen architecture is built on a 14nm FinFET manufacturing process. Essentially, this means that Ryzen processors are able to do a lot more work per clock cycle - 40 percent, in fact. This is the key, or one of the keys, to competing with Intel processors. Previously AMD could only compete on performance at a much higher power consumption, because it needed to use a higher clock speed to do the same amount of work as the equivalent Intel Core CPU.

With Ryzen, AMD is claiming that an 8-core, 16-thread chip is 10 percent faster than an Intel Core i7-6900K in various benchmarks, such as Blender and Handbrake. Importantly, these tests were run with the Intel chip using its Turbo Boost speeds, while the Ryzen chip had its boost disabled. So there's more performance on tap, and that is exciting and not just for AMD fans.

Intel is about to launch the next-generation chip, the seventh-generation Core processors (codenamed Kaby Lake). This shouldn't worry AMD, though, since early indications are that the Core i7-7700K is no more efficient than the 6900K in terms of performance per clock cycle: it is simply more power efficient. An incremental improvement, at best.

Ryzen, meanwhile, is 40 percent more efficient than the Excavator chips it replaces. To be specific, it is able to process 40 percent more instructions per clock cycle - this is the '40% More IPC' in the slide below.

One of the way it does this is by using a smaller manufacturing process: 14nm. This is nothing new - Intel has been using this process for a while now. On top of this change is what AMD is calling SenseMI. 

SenseMI has five components:

  • Pure Power – more than 100 embedded sensors with accuracy to the millivolt, milliwatt, and single degree level of temperature enable optimal voltage, clock frequency, and operating mode with minimal energy consumption;
  • Precision Boost – smart logic that monitors integrated sensors and optimizes clock speeds, in increments as small as 25MHz, at up to a thousand times a second;
  • Extended Frequency Range (XFR) – when the system senses added cooling capability, XFR raises the Precision Boost frequency to enhance performance;
  • Neural Net Prediction – an artificial intelligence neural network that learns to predict what future pathway an application will take based on past runs;
  • Smart Prefetch – sophisticated learning algorithms that track software behaviour to anticipate the needs of an application and prepare the data in advance.

Arguably the most interesting part of the Zen architecture is its ability to support 'Simultaneous Multi-Threading', a technology that's been used in Intel's CPUs for years under the name Hyper-Threading. This allows a single core to have multiple threads, such as an Intel Core i7 having four cores and eight threads.

Also read: AMD RX 480, 470, 460 UK release date, price, features and specification.

AMD Ryzen announcement video

You can rewatch the Ryzen annoucement, along with demos and benchmarks.

 

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