After an inordinate number of years, AMD seems to be back on the processor scene with a big bang. Originally dubbed ‘AMD Zen,’ AMD’s newest processor was an enigma until December 13th 2016. Aptly named the ‘New Horizon’ event displayed the company’s new processor lineup – AMD Ryzen.
We’ve heard this before, haven’t we?
If you have been following the PC hardware scene for several years, I understand your hesitancy in believing the news. AMD has been known to sensationalize releases in the past, only to launch an underperforming, inferior product. The Bulldozer architecture (2011), which was supposedly going to take down Intel Sandy Bridge, finally delivered a disappointing processor.
So what’s different this time?
However, there is one fundamental difference between past releases and the Ryzen announcement – real world proof of performance. In the past, AMD simply released benchmark scores. The problem with this strategy is that benchmark scores cannot be used to ascertain real-world processing performance in programs like games, rendering, multimedia, etc.
AMD seems to have learned from its mistake, which lost them a huge chunk of the PC processor market for 6 years and counting. This time, the launch announcement had 2 pre-built PCs with verifiable and identical hardware, except for two – one system was running on Intel’s flagship Core i7 6900K, and the other was on AMD Ryzen (Summit Ridge, unboosted and unoptimized).
The AMD Ryzen rig managed to keep up with, or even beat the Intel rig outright.
Specifically, video encoding was 10% faster than on the Intel rig. Moreover, the almost real-time rendering of raw 3D data (5.3 million polygons in the demo) was impressive, elevating Ryzen to one of the best processors for game creators as well. Furthermore, a Battlefield 4 demo, running at 4K resolution at maxed graphics settings – kept a steady 60-70 fps, which matched the Intel rig running the same hardware at identical graphics settings.
Specifications released for AMD Ryzen
AMD has been tight-lipped about the exact specifications of their products until December 2016, but they finally released specs on December 13th 2016, during the New Horizon event.
- Number of Physical Cores – 8
- Number of threads (virtual cores/ hyperthreaded cores) – 16
- Base Clock – 3.4 GHz +
- Cache Memory – 20 MB
- TDP – 94 W
- CPU Socket – AM4 Socket.
In addition to raw specs, SenseMI technologies – a few new technologies detailed by AMD during the event will impress most enthusiasts.
What is SenseMI Technology?
SenseMI is the name given for the tech running behind the AMD Ryzen processor, making it faster, smarter, and more optimized; it allows Ryzen to sense and react to different usage scenarios.
There are 5 facets of SenseMI:
- Neural Net Prediction
- Smart Prefetch
Neural Net Prediction uses machine learning to preload the right instructions in order to run faster. Smart Prefetch works in conjunction with Neural Net Prediction, pre-fetching data identified by the Neural Net as required for certain scenarios. These two aspects of SenseMI reportedly account for an astounding 25% performance increase.
- Precision Boost
- Pure Power
These capabilities allow the system to fine-tune the power sent to each part of the processor chip independently. It consists of numerous sensors throughout the chip, delivering data and power control capabilities with near-perfect accuracy.
- Extended Frequency Range (XFR)
This one is sure to excite gamers and game creators who love higher performance. AMD, using the sensors mentioned above, can detect the kind of cooling you install and automatically run the processor at higher clock speeds, optimizing the utilization of the cooling system you have installed. That pricey liquid cooling system you mount, will now actually uplift the performance of the AMD Ryzen processor.
All these features seem like they will combine to make a processor worthy of unseating Intel from the throne.
Well, that’s a problem area, as AMD has preferred to skip over anything related to the price. I won’t add to the thousands of speculative articles on the internet by adding my own thoughts to the matter. However, I will present you with some facts.
- Historically, AMD has been considered as a brand that offers value for money (back when their products definitely offered value, Phenom comes to mind)
- AMD mentioned that the AMD Ryzen kept up with an ‘$1100’ processor – indicating a lower price tag.
- They have advertised being similar in performance to Intel’s Broadwell chips, which were released in May 2016. So, the only way they can remain competitive, as they are only edging out the competition by a slight amount, is the price.
Release Dates (Speculations?)
Although AMD is notorious for delaying product launches, Lisa Su officially confirmed a release window for “Early-March 2017.” I, for one, hope they adhere to this deadline as I cannot wait to see new performance benchmarks on different types of rigs.