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AMD Ryzen AMA

Versus Kaby Lake, FreeSync TVs, and Frame Latency

PC-Cobbler: Many corporations have discovered to their great dismay that China does not respect IP ownership. Last April, AMD signed a technology transfer agreement with THATIC, a subsidiary of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, one of China’s national research institutions. Did AMD cut its own throat with this deal?

DON WOLIGROSKI: This really isn't in my purview. I can say that AMD has good relationships with its partners that we build on trust. I can also say my colleagues are sharp and know what they're doing.

hendrickhere: Big AMD fan - always have been. Why should a standard PC user who is primarily interested in gaming and graphic software performance chose Ryzen and it's AM4 platform over a competing platform of a similar caliber?

DON WOLIGROSKI: Simple questions can be the most nuanced to answer, so bear with me. You've got two use cases here: Graphics Software and Gaming.

1. Graphics Software

This isn't even a contest. We absolutely crush Intel at every price point if you're doing any graphics rendering. We have three times the threads in the Core i5 segment, and double the threads of the Core i7 Kaby Lake segment in the consumer desktop space. We have very high single threaded performance, combined with a massive multi-threading advantage, and this makes Ryzen a very deadly foe when it comes to productivity/rendering/encoding/encryption application performance.

2. Gaming

I don't know how old you are, but I'll date myself. Back in the old days of PC gaming, it didn't really matter what kind of CPU you had because everything out there was graphics card bottlenecked. You'd buy the cheapest CPU out there and spend the rest of your money on the graphics card. A Duron with a Radeon 8500 performed the same as an Athlon with a Radeon 8500. Gamers didn't need to waste extra money on the CPU.

As time went on, developers started to make advanced AI, more demanding assets. Things started to shift back to the CPU and platform. Now in 2017, you want a decent 4-core CPU minimum for serious gaming. Even game consoles run 8-core processors. IPC has become a lot more important to gaming, as has platform speed if you want the highest frame rates at 1080p.

With the introduction of Ryzen, AMD is back in the high-end gaming segment. The graphics card is still the bottleneck in a practical sense, but primarily only at HD+ resolutions (1440p, 4K, and VR) So, if you're playing games at 1440p and above (and you really should be with a decent processor, because HD+ is so pretty), Ryzen is fast enough to move that gaming bottleneck back to the graphics card where it belongs. It's the good old days again, baby!

If you're playing at 1080p (and let's be fair, that's still the most prevalent resolution out there), the bottleneck gets shifted back to the platform and CPU. That's where we see Intel's Kaby Lake pull ahead of Ryzen in some cases. This surprised a lot of people, because Ryzen is such a dominating force in applications, why do we drop behind in some outliers?

Let's talk about that. A few points to frame this 1080p gaming conversation:

  • Ryzen is never slow at gaming in 1080p, it's just not as fast as Kaby Lake in certain game benchmarks. For example, if the Core i7-7700K gets 200 FPS, and Ryzen gets 150 FPS, that's a technical loss of 25%. In real world terms there's no practical advantage to 200 FPS over 150 FPS. Hell, most 1080p monitors are 60 Hz, which means you can't really get a meaningful benefit from higher frame rates than 60 FPS.
  • At 1080p, I'm not aware of any game that is so limited by Ryzen that 60 FPS is not achievable. In many games, Ryzen's 1080p performance is well above 80 FPS and 120 FPS. Even for people with ultra-high-end 144Hz monitors, Ryzen can get the job done if you're willing to adjust detail settings, which you’ll often have to do on Kaby Lake to get those frame rates.
  • Ryzen is getting a lot faster at 1080p gaming. Ryzen is a brand-new CPU, and in the month since we launched we engaged developers to address DOTA2, Ashes of the Singularity, and Warhammer: Total War to deliver faster Ryzen performance. That's in a month. At the same time, platform limited titles are gaining a benefit from our RAM-speed ramp. And we're delivering other updates like a better Windows power plan and a Ryzen Master Overclocking Utility that doesn't require HPET clock to be enabled, which also helps performance. You're going to see an uplift in Ryzen 1080p game performance in the April 11th launch day articles, and we're just getting started.
  • Developers tend to make use of as many resources as you provide - over time. You will see games take advantage of more cores and threads organically, especially now that we have new graphics APIs like DirectX 12 and Vulkan to take advantage of them.
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So, to Summarize:

1. Graphics software: Clean Kill for Ryzen. Your productivity/render/encoding/encryption wait times will be significantly longer on similarly-priced Intel competition.

2. Gaming: Virtually identical 1440p, 4K, VR game performance as the competition, and extremely smooth high-performance 1080p gaming (if not the fastest), combined with better prospects for the future thanks to advanced graphics APIs like DirectX 12 and Vulkan. Advantage: Ryzen!

tredeuce: How long do you and others at AMD get to celebrate the success before you have to move on to the next task or project? I know innovation and competition never ends, but surely I hope y'all can enjoy how well AMD is doing right now.

DON WOLIGROSKI: Wait, we get to sit back celebrate our success? Being in the tech industry means you're never coasting. I don't see a significant reduction in the foreseeable future. But better busy than bored!

redgarl: Are there any plans to add FreeSync technology to TVs? Can we expect a console like Scorpio to have positive effect for AMD GPU performance on the PC?

DON WOLIGROSKI: We will probably see television manufacturers adding FreeSync technology to their products. It seems like an inevitable no-brainer to me, but you never know. I think it's a much clearer path to monitor domination for FreeSync.

I’m not sure what you mean by your second question. Are you asking if our experience working with console manufacturers gives us design and engineering insights that we use for future PC products? If that’s your question, then yes, I think our engineers take all the lessons they learn from console gaming and apply those lessons to the PC where it makes sense. We're a very gaming focused company here at AMD, so it's a natural progression.

jaymc: There have been many online reports of a "Silky Smooth" gaming experience. Is this a real phenomenon or a placebo effect? If it is real then what do you think causes this affect? Is it mouse latency, more cores and threads, or a combination of the two? Also, can you verify if it is possible for gamers to reduce their mouse latency by bypassing the chipset, and connecting the mouse directly to the CPU via USB 3.1?

DON WOLIGROSKI: I personally believe that having all of those extra core/thread Ryzen resources at the PC's disposal means that the windows scheduler can throw requests at resources without affecting the game, where it otherwise might have had the slightest impact on the experience. I've personally noticed that Ryzen gaming has been very smooth for me, but is there placebo there? Hard to say. I do plan to address this with testing in the future, to see if we can quantify this objectively. We do know that Ryzen's 99th percentile frame times are very good.

As for mouse latency, I don't have any numbers on this. I'd love to see someone dig in to this. If there's placebo anywhere, though, I suspect this is where it is. Even the 500Hz mouse polling rate on USB 2.0 seems like it should be sufficient to me, but admittedly I'm not a mouse performance purist and haven't looked deeply at this, or run any compares myself.


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