We've seen a long slow trickle of information about AMD's Ryzen processors spill out over the last several months. AMD has fed us enough information to keep us listening, and combined with a mudslide of mostly-false leaks, it’s fair to say the excitement has reached a fever pitch. We are finally on the cusp of the official March 2 launch date, and as such, AMD held a Tech Day event in San Francisco to lay out the pricing, specifications and its own internally generated benchmarks for its three leading SKUs. The Ryzen 7 1800X ($499), 1700X ($399), and 1700 ($329) all pack 8 cores and 16 threads at an impressive price point.
AMD CEO Lisa Su also presented three demos pitting Ryzen against competing Intel processors, including a Cinebench multi-threaded test, HandBrake video transcoding test, and 4K gaming session.
The company also surprisingly announced that Ryzen processors are available for pre-order at 1:30pm ET today (Feb 22) from 180 global e-tailers and boutique OEMs, which is somewhat odd timing considering that product reviews aren't out yet.
AMD began the blank-sheet Zen processor core design phase four years ago and invested two million engineering hours optimizing the architecture and process technology to strike the right blend of power and performance. The end result comes in the form of the Ryzen processors, which come packing 4.8 billion 14nm transistors. AMD finally shared a naked image of the die, and we can clearly spot the two separate CPU complexes, which come with four cores each. We've already covered the Zen microarchitecture in our Everything Zen article, but we'll revisit the topic with new details in our review.
AMD originally set out to increase IPC 40% over its own previous-generation chips, but the company revealed that it actually surpassed that goal and measured a 52% increase. Every processor design is an engineering marvel--for instance, the 8-core, 16-thread Ryzen processors come with 2,000 meters of internal signal wiring, but perhaps AMD's greatest feat comes in the form of Ryzen's low price tag.
AMD is quite vocal that it is out to disrupt the PC market with its low pricing model, and all three of the leading Ryzen models deliver on that front, especially in light of their beefy 8-core designs.
Ryzen 7 1800X
The Ryzen 7 1800X features 8 cores/16 threads with a 3.6GHz base and 4.0GHz boost frequency. The "X" designation in the product name denotes that the processor features AMD's XFR (eXtended Frequency Range) technology, which allows for higher clock speeds if you employ a more robust cooling device. XFR is just one of several key technologies in AMD's SenseMI suite, which includes Pure Power, Precision Boost, Smart Prefetch and Neural Net Prediction features.
AMD presented its own internal benchmarks comparing the 1800X to the Intel Broadwell-E 8-core/16-thread Intel Core i7-6900K. AMD claimed it offers 9% more performance in the Cinebench R15 multi-threaded test (noted as nT) and matches the i7-6900K's single-core score. More importantly, the company pointed out its $499 price, which is much lower than the i7-6900K's $1,050. It has a 95W TDP.
EDIT: AMD did not send the final test configurations until moments before launch, but it is worth calling out that the company tested the Broadwell-E comparison systems with a dual-channel memory configuration, though they support quad-channel memory. This could penalize Broadwell-E's Cinebench performance slightly.
Ryzen 7 1700X
The 95W Ryzen 7 1700X features a 3.4GHz base and 3.8GHz boost frequency. It also features 8 cores and 16 threads, which it leverages to beat the 6-core Intel Core i7-6800K by 39% and the 8-core Core i7-6900K by 4% in the multi-threaded Cinebench R15 test. Notably, AMD didn't share the 1700X's single-threaded results. The lack of a single-threaded benchmark result, or more expansive benchmarks of any variety, means that we will still need to wait to see reviews for the full story. Once again, the price is a big attraction: The Ryzen 7 1700X retails for $399 compared to the $425 Intel Core i7-6800K and $1,049 Core i7-6900K.
Ryzen 7 1700
The Ryzen 7 1700 steps back to a 65W TDP, hence the "world's lowest power 8-core desktop processor" designation, and it features 8 cores and 16 threads. It comes with a 3.0GHz base and 3.7GHz boost frequency along with 20MB of L2+L3 cache. AMD presented a multi-threaded Cinebench benchmark showing a 46% gain over the four-core Core i7-7700K. The Ryzen 7 1700 retails for $329, which is $21 less than the i7-7700K. Once again, AMD didn't present single-threaded benchmarks.
AMD Cooling Solutions And Retail Packaging
Ryzen processors will come with the logo etched on the heat spreader. AMD also unveiled its retail packaging and the new Wraith Spire cooling solution for select Ryzen processors, but details are slight.
AMD indicated there would be 82+ motherboards at launch from the usual suspects, such as ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, Biostar and ASRock. Full systems are available from 19 boutique builders. OEM gaming towers will follow in 1H17.
AMD's competitive pricing is aimed at the center mass of the desktop PC market--99% of the PC market buys CPUs below $500. AMD's pricing is definitely disruptive, but there are still some important facets we will discover in the coming weeks, such as performance in a more diverse range of benchmarks, single-threaded and gaming performance, and overclockability, among others. AMD's pricing strategy is encouraging, and it doesn't have to beat Intel in every category if it can provide a healthy price-to-performance ratio. A resurgent AMD will certainly help the struggling PC market and perhaps force Intel to alter its own pricing model.
AMD has a full lineup of new product launches this year, including Vega GPUs and Naples server CPUs in the second quarter. Ryzen mobile products with the Zen core arrive in the second half of the year.
AMD indicated that it designed the pre-order strategy to satisfy pent-up demand, but it's always best to wait for product reviews and a more thorough examination before pulling the trigger. Products hit the shelves on March 2, and it's a safe bet that product reviews will arrive in the same time frame. Stay tuned.