For months, computer enthusiasts have chafed for fresh official information on Ryzen, as opposed to the stream of unverified leaks. Today, AMD is releasing detailed product information, pricing, and estimated IPC improvements over Excavator. Hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen — things are about to get real interesting in the PC market.
For those of you just tuning in, Ryzen is AMD’s last, best chance to prove it can compete effectively against Intel’s Core i3/i5/i7 product lines. For years, AMD has been stuck trying to compete against Intel’s top-end chips with its Piledriver-based architecture. Ryzen is a new architecture, completely unrelated to AMD’s previous Bulldozer / Piledriver / Steamroller / Excavator product lines. It’s no exaggeration to say that AMD’s future in the PC market depends on this core. Based on what we saw at the Ryzen launch event on Tuesday, that future is in good hands.
For years, AMD has talked about a 40% IPC uplift for its chips compared with Excavator. Today, AMD revealed that it didn’t just meet that goal, it beat it by 12 percentage points. There’s no evidence whatsoever that this 52% uplift is a cherry-picked figure. If anything, it might be somewhat conservative.
AMD is taking pre-orders on three Ryzen SKUs today: Ryzen 7 1700, Ryzen 7 1700X, and the Ryzen 7 1800X. All three chips are eight-core, 16-thread models. Unlike previous benchmark results, the data below is from production systems with Turbo Mode enabled on both AMD and Intel chips. Here’s how the SKUs and their performance break down:
Ryzen 7 1700: 3.0GHz base, 3.7GHz boost clock, with a 65W TDP. This is the chip AMD is positioning against the Core i7-7700K (4.2GHz base, 4.5GHz Turbo).
AMD’s overall win against Intel’s Core i7-7700K isn’t surprising, given Ryzen’s additional cores. The Intel chip has an 18-25% advantage in frequency, which offsets some of the gap between the two chips, but AMD is still much faster, while also drawing less power.
Ryzen 7 1700X: 3.4GHz base clock, 3.8GHz boost clock, with a 95W TDP. AMD is positioning Ryzen 7 1700X against two Intel cores — the Core i7-6800K (6 cores, 12 threads, 3.4GHz base, 3.6GHz Turbo) and the Core i7-6900K (8 cores, 16 threads, 3.2GHz base, 3.7GHz Turbo). Both Intel chips have a 140W TDP.
Again, we see AMD offering significantly better performance compared with the six-core version of the chip. Ryzen 1700X isn’t quite a match for the 6900K in Cinebench R15, but it’s only 4% back from that chip. Keep that figure in mind, it’ll be important in a few minutes.
Ryzen 1800X: 3.6GHz base clock, 4GHz boost clock, 95W TDP. This is AMD’s heavy-hitter, and it beats past the Core i7-6900K by an impressive 9% in Cinebench R15.
Single-threaded performance, meanwhile, is also quite strong. No, AMD hasn’t quite caught Intel in terms of single-thread performance — remember, the Ryzen 7 1800X is running at a 3.6GHz base / 4GHz boost compared with a 3.2GHz base / 3.7GHz boost for the Core i7-6900K. But the clock speed gap between the two cores at maximum turbo is just 8%. Piledriver, on average, was roughly 60% as fast as an Intel CPU. If the 1800X can actually hold AMD’s 95W TDP at these performance level, it’ll offer strong competition against the Core i7-6900K both in raw performance and performance-per-watt.
Ryzen’s pricing has been calibrated to blow holes in Intel’s High End DeskTop (HEDT) product line.
The Core i7-7700K is a $ 339 – $ 350 CPU. The Core i7-6800K is a $ 434 – $ 441 CPU. And, of course, the Core i7-6900K is a $ 1000 CPU. Between the increased performance from additional cores and the dramatic price reduction (relative to Intel) for an eight-core part, AMD is obviously gunning for bear.
Cinebench is the only test we have graphed data for, but it wasn’t the only test that AMD showed. The Ryzen 7 1700 was also shown as beating the Core i7-7700K in Handbrake (61.8s vs. 71.8s), and multiple demo systems throughout the event showcased this match-up. The results in well-threaded software weren’t particularly kind to Chipzilla. Intel still has an advantage in pure single-threaded code in some cases, but the gap isn’t very large.
For years, AMD has talked about Zen / Ryzen as a CPU architecture that would drive server market gains and desktop sales alike, with a low-power APU coming to mobile systems and desktops later this year. While we’re reserving final judgment for a full suite of benchmark tests, everything we’ve seen this week looks extremely promising.
AMD beat its IPC goal without compromising its clockspeed. Its 14nm feature sizes are actually smaller than their Intel counterparts, and AMD suggests we’ll see some overclocking capability on top of the 4GHz clock (exactly how much is still unclear).
Start your clock — Ryzen 7 launches on March 2. Ryzen 5 and other parts will arrive in the not-too-distant future.