The AMD Ryzen Desktop CPU: Has AMD Got Game?

Masters of silicon AMD are attempting to rise from the ashes of the disaster that was the Bulldozer, and their phoenix is named Ryzen. This week AMD begun to formally introduce the world to their brand new Ryzen phoenix CPU, the first product to use the new Zen core design (code named Summit Ridge). A new CPU that will see the return of the CPU wars if AMD’s performance claims live up to expectation. Can Ryzen really compete with the mighty i7-6900K? A CPU that retails for $1100!

Has AMD Got Game?

After a lull in the CPU wars initiated by the poor performance of the Bulldozer core things are about to heat up once again. PC hardware enthusiasts around the world are getting excited for the first time in years and it’s all down to AMD’s new Zen family of CPU’s.

The new Zen architecture hopes to correct the mistakes of the past. The primary mistake being the idea that the speed of an individual core isn’t important. The soon to be discontinued Bulldozer/Excavator design focused on multi-core performance to the detriment of single core performance. A design that hurt AMD’s performance in gaming, not good.

What is very good though is the fact that the new Zen architecture introduces hyperthreading to AMD chips. Otherwise known as simultaneous multi-threading, this technology allows each core to switch to other tasks instead of sitting around waiting for data. A technology that has been partially responsible for Intel’s lead over the last couple of years.

Zen also brings new SenseMI technology which is designed to improve power efficiency and performance. The combination of new technology, new design and improved manufacturing process provides the Ryzen CPU up to 40% improvement in instructions per cycle over the Excavator cores. See the TechReport and TomsHardware articles for the full lowdown on the technology of Zen.

Ryzen is the first of the Zen CPU’s and has been designed for high performance desktop PC’s, hence the 95watt TDP power rating, which by the way leaves plenty of overclocking headroom. At this week’s New Horizon event AMD demonstrated the Ryzen CPU running alongside their new Vega GPU. A combination demonstrated running Star Wars Battlefront (Rogue One DLC) in 4K at 60 frames per second, nice. A demonstration that would suggest AMD does indeed have game.

The top model Ryzen will run at 3.4Ghz but this may be increased before launch. With 8 cores and 16 threads Ryzen is set to compete with Intel’s i7-6900K monster. While performance claims this early should be taken with a grain of salt AMD are claiming parity with Intel’s top Core i7, in some cases they say the Ryzen may even be quicker. Of course we will have to wait for the real numbers in January to know for sure.

Pricing is going to be the biggest shock for enthusiast, with the top of the line Ryzen 8 core CPU expected to be around $500 USD, a cost that will demand performance. Has AMD got game? Will Intel take this sitting down? Only time will tell but what we can say for sure is that the CPU wars are back on and that’s good for everyone.

Reference: AMD New Horizon
Reference: AMD Ryzen