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Intel Processor Domination Under Serious Threat From AMD

AMD is having a serious crack at trying to unsettle demand for Intel processors with the launch of Ryzen, its latest PC processors based on the company’s Zen chip architecture, which are cheaper and faster than what Intel is currently offering for top end notebooks.

Wall Street is so impressed with the new processors that AMD stock value has climbed 600% over the past 12 months.

The Ryzen 7 1700 achieves a 46% performance boost over Intel Core i7 7700K, and costs US$329 against Intel’s US$350.

The new AMD Ryzen 7 1800X running at 3.6 GHz or up to 4.0 GHz is said to be faster by 9% and costs half as much as Intel’s: US$499 for AMD versus US$1050 for Intel.

The 1700X performs 39% better than Intel Core i7 6800K, based on Cinebench’s figures. The 1700X will cost $399, versus $425 for Intel’s i7 6800K.

With Ryzen, AMD hopes to reinvigorate a waning PC industry, which has experienced overall annual decline in sales for the past five years. Several major PC brands are looking to offer the new processors in notebooks due in the second half of 2017.

The new range consists of three central processing units (or CPUs) under the Ryzen 7 brand that beat Intel’s top PC chips in both price and performance.

The Ryzen chips all feature 8 cores and 16 threads. They come in three tiers:

Ryzen 7 1800X running at 3.6 GHz or up to 4.0 GHz at US$499

Ryzen 7 1700X running at 3.4 GHz or up to 3.8 GHz at US$399

Ryzen 7 1700 running at 3.0 GHz or up to 3.7 GHz at US $329

“Ryzen is more than just another processor launch,” boasted Jim Anderson, senior vice president of computing and graphics at AMD, at an event last night in San Francisco. “It represents real innovation and competition in the high-performance PC market.”

By introducing some competition into the market, AMD hopes it can improve its market share and make high-performance PCs more accessible to consumers. Not only are gamers continually demanding higher performance, but so are people editing and compiling videos and photos.

“We’re starting to see insatiable demand for better experiences when creating content,” AMD CTO Mark Papermaster told Forbes Magazine. “We have thousands of photos we want to edit and create photo albums for. We’re all becoming content creators. The old low-resolution displays are not good for any of us anymore. We need more processing power.”

Anderson said “Take a look at the PC market over the last two or three years — it’s starved for innovation and it has really stagnated,”.

He added “In the tech industry, the worst thing is incrementalism. That’s what the market has been suffering from. This has benefitted our competitor in their financials, but it hasn’t benefitted the industry and the end user. Ryzen injects some real competition into the industry.”

Ryzen is the initial step in a potential turnaround for AMD.

AMD began building the architecture Ryzen is based on — Zen — four years ago, its original goal was to hit 40% more instructions per cycle, which is a metric for processor performance, over the previous generation’s architecture with the new system. Instead, AMD ended up with 52% more instructions per cycle. Typically, most chips based on new architecture achieve only up to 20% jumps in performance.


Although the PC market may be in decline, there’s one area that’s showing growth according to analysts and that is performance and gaming.

This is why AMD is aiming Ryzen at that market, hoping to attract PC gaming fans away from Intel powered devices.

This also shows that AMD is once again ready to compete with Intel properly. In the past, AMD didn’t have Intel’s performance per clock. This meant that the only way the company could match Intel’s performance would be to increase clock speeds and power consumption.

With Ryzen and the Zen architecture in general, AMD has revamped its processor architecture to make it more efficient and capable of performing more work per cycle.

AMD has confirmed that Ryzen is capable of doing 40% more work per clock cycle, compared to the previous-generation Excavator core. Power consumption per cycle remains the same.

AMD had these goals from the outset, but it’s good to know that this has been achieved. We don’t know what the Ryzen chips stated TDP is, although it’s rumoured to be 95W.

So, how did AMD achieve Ryzen’s performance boost? Partly, it’s down to the new 14nm process, which means more transistors can fit onto a given piece of silicon, resulting in improved performance without a big increase in power consumption.

An entirely new architecture also helps. Importantly, Ryzen chips support “Simultaneous Multi-Threading”, which is similar to Intel’s Hyper-Threading tech. This allows for better distribution and handling of multiple tasks. For the high-end chip, there are eight cores that can handle 16 threads.

Underpinning the processor are a series of new technologies bundled under the SenseMI umbrella term. These are technologies to make the processor more efficient and powerful.

Pure power is first. This uses monitors on the processor to work out the amount of energy required for any given task. In other words, the processor will run only as fast as it needs to, saving power when the system is relatively idle.

The three Ryzen 7 processors are going up for pre-orders on Wednesday and will launch globally on March 2nd. More than 180 retailers and PC makers will support the new chips.


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