AMD Ryzen unveiled: Here’s all you need to know about the 8-core CPU that might finally dethrone Intel

It’s happened at last, the disruption that the PC industry has been waiting for since 2011. AMD, that long-suffering underdog has finally rocked Intel’s boat, and how!

Update: AMD has revealed the official pricing for AMD's Ryzen 7 lineup in India. The Ryzen 7 1800X will retail for Rs 37,999, the R7 1700X for Rs 29,499 and the R7 1700 for Rs 24,499. As things stand, these prices are far more reasonable than we were expecting, and if performance is as everyone expects, Ryzen 7 promises to be a fitting challenge to Intel's i7 lineup. The original story is as follows:

It’s happened at last, the disruption that the PC industry has been waiting for since 2011. AMD, that long-suffering underdog has finally rocked Intel’s boat, and how!

AMD Ryzen, the chipmaker’s new CPU lineup, is finally here. After years of struggling to match Intel in even the mid-range segment, Ryzen promises to challenge Intel’s strangle-hold of the desktop market like never before.

How? By launching an 8-core, 16-threaded CPU at half the price of Intel’s competing chips. And before you shrug this off saying that you’ve seen 8-core desktop CPUs before, note that this is a true 8-core chip, unlike the hash job that was AMD’s Bulldozer microarchitecture.

Intel only has one 8-core, 16-thread CPU for consumers and that CPU is the Core i7 6900K and it costs over $1,000 (or Rs 92,000 in India).

What is Ryzen?

Ryzen is a product of AMD’s Zen microarchitecure. It’s based on a 14nm manufacturing process and features a completely redesigned CPU, from AMD’s point of view anyway.

Ryzen will include three broad tiers, not unlike Intel. The family will be split into the Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 lineup targeted at entry-level, mainstream and enthusiast users, just like Intel does with its Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 lineup.

On 22 February, AMD announced details of its Ryzen 7 family and said that the Ryzen 3 and Ryzen 5 will launch later in the year.

Ryzen 7 consists of 3 CPUs, as you can see below.

Part name Cores/Threads Base/Turbo frequency TDP  Price
Ryzen 7 1800X 8/16 3.6/4.0 GHz


$499 (~ Rs 33,500)
Ryzen 7 1700X 8/16 3.4/3.8 GHz


$399 (~Rs 26,800)
Ryzen 7 1700 8/16 3.0/3.7 GHz


$329 (~Rs 22,000)

As it stands, the 1800X is positioned against the Intel Core i7 6900K, the 1700X against the 6800K and the 1700 against the Intel i7 7700K.

Every single one of these CPUs is fully overclockable, supports 24 PCIe lanes and dual-channel DDR4 memory.

AMD Ryzen 1800X

This is the top-end part from the Ryzen family so far. At $499, it’s half the price of the Intel i7 6900K, runs at a higher clock speed and consumes less power.

The 6900K has a clock speed that ranges from 3.2 - 3.7 GHz and has a 140W TDP. TDP is Thermal Design Power; it determines the maximum allowable heat generated by a processor under standard conditions. The 1800X has a 95W TDP.

In benchmark results that journalists have verified for themselves at an AMD event, the 1800X is about 9 percent faster than the 6900K in multi-threaded workloads and offers almost identical single-threaded workload performance.

Why would anyone want to spend Rs 92,000 on a 6900K when you see scores like this?

AMD Ryzen 1700X

This chip costs $399 and AMD pitted against the i7 6800K ($430 or Rs 34,000 in India). The 6800K is a 6-core, 12-thread CPU with a frequency range of 3.4 - 3.6 GHz and a 140W TDP.

And this chip really must terrify Intel. Tests in Cinebench R15, a multi-threaded rendering benchmark, show that the 1700X is a whopping 39 percent faster than the slightly more expensive 6800K and 4 percent faster than the Rs 92,000 6900K.

AMD Ryzen 1700

Don’t let the lack of an X fool you. It only indicates that this chip is a 65W TDP unit – the others are 95W units. Compared to the 7700K ($340 or Rs 30,000 in India).

It’s the cheapest of the Ryzen series, but it might very well be the best value offering. The competing Intel Core i7 7700K is a 4-core, 8-thread unit that operates at a 91W TDP. The 7700K’s frequency is higher though, ranging between 4.2 - 4.5 GHz.

Making the Ryzen 1700 special is the fact that this is the lowest-rated 8-core chip on the market. There is no other consumer-grade 8-core chip with a 65W TDP.

Strangely enough, AMD compared gaming performance on the 1700 with performance on the i7 6800K. In this case, the AMD chip was slightly, but consistently faster. That said, the i7 7700K is clocked higher and would have probably beaten the 1700 in gaming benchmarks.

Streaming performance was very interesting, however. AMD showed off a demo where the same game, DOTA 2 in this case, was streamed from a PC running the 7700K and the 1700. The stream from the 7700K was juddery while that from the 1700 was smooth.

Clearly, the extra cores and threads offer a noticeable advantage.

So what do we think?

If you really think about it, AMD hasn’t done anything special with Ryzen. We’ll explain why in a more detailed piece. Quite simply, Intel used its dominant market position to dictate prices and keep CPU prices as high as they are now.

AMD Ryzen 7 lineup strip 1

With no competitor, it could afford to. AMD had nothing to compete with Intel for 10 years; that’s longer than the iPhone’s been around for.

AMD, with nothing to lose and everything to gain, simply priced their CPUs competitively.

There are plenty of caveats to AMD’s performance figures and we won’t really have the full picture till reviewers actually get their hands on the units.

Even before the reviews are in, however, I think we can safely say that Ryzen represents the best value in the market today, in terms of both performance and price.

AMD Ryzen 7 can be pre-ordered from today. Orders will ship on 2 March.

India pricing and availability is yet to be revealed.

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