So this is probably my first really technical post.
Anyway, those who are informed with the development of technology have undoubtedly heard about AMD’s upcoming “Zen” architecture for their next generation central processing units (CPUs). Well recently, AMD held an event (New Horizon) that gave us a good look at the company’s next flagship CPU. Ryzen!
The basic specifications we got is that is has 8-cores (16-threads), 20MB L2+L3 cache, AMD SenseMI technology (explained below), connects via an AM4 socket and a clock speed of 3.4GHz+. The thermal design power (TDP) is 95W, which is a welcomed improvement over the previous “Piledriver”-based CPUs (such as the popular AMD FX-8350). Performance demonstrations pitted the Ryzen CPU against Intel’s Core i7-6900K (8-cores/16-threads, 20MB total cache, 3.2GHz base clock). Ryzen mostly matched Intel’s offering at rending performance and gaming performance, whilst flat out beating the 6900K at transcoding times. At the time of writing this blog post, the 6900K costs £1,017 on Amazon UK. Ryzen could be a serious foe for Intel if AMD sticks to their lower pricing of previous products. Diving more into the workings of the CPU, the new SenseMI technology uses Smart Prefetch and Neural Net Prediction to predict which instructions an application is going to need next, thus allowing the chip to optimise performance for applications on the go. Clock speeds will scale with cooling performance. Ryzen will support two channels of DDR4 memory (meaning a maximum of 64GB RAM on AM4 motherboards). A shortlist of the supporting X370 chipset included improvements over the Piledriver-era 990FX chipset includes technologies like PCI Express generation 3.0, M.2 SSD support, USB revision 3.1, NVMe and SATA Express.
So, what does this mean for you and I? Well, if AMD can pull off viable competition with Intel again, it could lead to more innovation and decreased retail costs when shopping for CPUs. Currently, my main gaming PC has a previous generation Piledriver-based AMD FX-8320 (8-cores/8-threads, 3.5GHz base, 4.0GHz boost, 16MB cache). I bought it simply because it was the cheaper option at the time for multi-threaded performance and more cores to work with virtualisation, but I knew that the main competition at the time (which was the Intel Core i5-3570K) could beat it in single-core performance test. But recently, performance improvements over at Intel have been lacking for the last few generations since then. The change between Piledriver and Zen however, represents a far greater jump. Which is something Intel should be worried about, and thus should get off their butts and offer more perceivable performance increases (hence the title). Healthy innovation and competition is good for us consumers. The two biggest computing purchases since I built my current PC have been Intel-based (my tablet as an i5-6300U and my laptop has an i5-6300HQ). My next gaming PC was probably going to be Intel too, but this certaintly changes things. Maybe I’ll buy from Red Team once again.
Here are the two pages I used to reference the specifications from: