Ryzen is here. AMD said Wednesday that it plans a “hard launch” of its first three Ryzen processors on March 2, outperforming Intel’s high-end chips while undercutting its prices by as much as 54 percent.
AMD executives confidently unveiled the first three desktop chips to attack Intel’s Core i7, supported by several top-tier motherboard vendors and boutique system builders. In many cases, executives said, AMD will offer more for less. The top-tier Ryzen 7 1800X will cost less than half of what Intel’s thousand-dollar Core i7-6900K chip does—and outperform it, too. You can preorder Ryzen chips and systems from 180 retailers and system integrators today.
Like Intel, AMD’s Ryzen offerings consist of three new chip families: the premium Ryzen 7, the midrange Ryzen 5, and the cheapest Ryzen 3. AMD is rolling out its fastest, premium Ryzen 7 chips first, including the Ryzen 7 1800X ($499), the Ryzen 7 1700X ($399) and Ryzen 7 1700 ($329). AMD’s Ryzen 5 and the Ryzen 3 will ship later this year—at the moment, AMD’s not saying exactly when.
Why this matters: About the only major aspect of Ryzen that AMD hadn’t yet disclosed was its price and availability. Analysts say AMD appears to have done its homework, leaving Intel in danger of giving up market share in the bread-and-butter PC microprocessors that built its company. But Intel has its ways: Possible responses include price cuts, additional chips with more cores, and promoting its new Optane technology, they said.
AMD’s mojo is Ryzen
Unlike Intel’s massive January launch of more than 40 Kaby Lake chips, AMD’s playing it slow. Here are more details on the three new Ryzen 7 chips:
AMD’s Ryzen 7 1800X, a 95-watt part, boasts 8 cores and 16 threads. It runs at 3.6GHz and will boost to 4GHz, AMD chief executive Lisa Su said. When AMD’s $499 chip matched up against the eight-core Intel Core i7-6900K—a $1,089 part—the 1800X recorded an identical single-thread score of 162 on the Cinebench benchmark. But when all of its cores were turned on, the 1800X outperformed the 6900K by 9 percent, recording a score of 1,601. The 1800X “is the fastest eight-core processor on the market,” Su said.
Ryzen’s apparently strong performance is due to an overachieving design team. (For more on AMD’s Zen architecture and its features, see our earlier story.) AMD said early on that one of its goals was to increase Zen’s instructions per clock (IPC)—a measure of its performance efficiency—by 40 percent. In fact, Su said, AMD achieved a 52 percent IPC improvement.
“We not only beat our goal, we beat it by a lot,” Su said.
All three chips will be supported by motherboards from ASRock, Asus, Biostar, Gigabyte, and MSI—82 different boards in all, AMD said. At launch, 19 “elite builders,” per AMD, are expected to debut Ryzen systems, with a total of 200 expected during the first quarter. PC towers designed for gaming from top hardware makers are also coming during the same period, AMD said. Next up: Radeon Vega, AMD’s next-gen PC graphics solution, scheduled to launch in the second quarter.