This week at CES 2018, AMD announced that their upcoming Ryzen/Vega based APUs and Ryzen+ desktop CPUs will be available in early 2018. Last year at this time AMD was preparing to launch the initial Ryzen CPU based on a newly designed “ZEN” core, promising big leaps in IPC and power savings over the previous generation. They definitely delivered on that promise albeit with a few growing pains. It has taken most of the last year to work out the kinks but that can be expected with a fully overhauled platform.
AMD introduced many new technologies in the ZEN core, DDR4, which was AMD’s first foray into that field. They also introduced SMT (Simultaneous Multi-threading), Precision Boost and XFR, AMD’s version of Intel’s HT (Hyper-threading) and Turbo Boost. There were also a few firsts such as Infinity Fabric used to join two CCX (core compute complexes), along with Smart Prefetch and Neural Net Prediction which are supposed to help your CPU learn and anticipate your applications needs and route data accordingly.
The upcoming Ryzen+ is still based on the original ZEN core with an optical shrink from 14 nm to 12 nm. Being an optical shrink there isn’t a lot of room for actual changes to the design but should, in theory, improve the power requirements and core speeds. AMD is also working on Precision Boost 2 technology which in their words “seeks highest possible frequency from environmental inputs and opens new boost opportunities for real-world workloads.” Much is still unknown about the second Zen core except that it’s supposed to be available for desktop in April this year.
AMD has also stated that the Zen 2 design is complete and according to original schedules should be coming sometime in early 2019, this core is a redesign based on Zen with a die shrink to 7nm. They are also working to bring the Vega GPU down to the 7 nm transistor size but won’t be offering a 7nm Vega desktop graphics card this year. Instead they are releasing a 7nm Vega-based GPU built specifically for machine learning applications.
We do know a bit more about the upcoming APU from AMD based on Ryzen for the CPU portion and Vega cores for the graphics processing. AMD claims it’s the highest performing graphics engine in a desktop CPU. Initially, there are two APUs being released for the desktop PC, the Ryzen5 2400G with a four core, eight thread Ryzen CPU core and the RX Vega11 graphics core. Plus its little brother the Ryzen3 2200G with four core, four thread Ryzen CPU core and the RX Vega8 graphics core. These parts are expected to be available February 12th, 2018. More details on the APUs in the chart below.
Ryzen Desktop Processors with Radeon Vega Graphics
|Model||CPU Cores||Threads||Max Boost (GHz)||Graphics Compute Units||Max GPU Clock (MHz)||L2/L3 CACHE||CTDP (Watts)|
AMD X470 Chipset
Coming alongside the Ryzen+ CPUs is an updated AMD chipset. The 400 series will be compatible with previous Ryzen CPUs and the reverse is true as well, meaning Ryzen+ CPUs will run in 300 series motherboards with a BIOS update. AMD has committed to supporting the AM4 socket up to 2020 which is always welcomed news knowing that each new CPU won’t require a new motherboard. The new 400 series should be less expensive with improvements to USB, improved power delivery, and consumption along with improved memory layout. The new motherboards should roll out with the updated Ryzen processors in April this year.
Overall, this looks to be an exciting year for the red team. AMD has kept a nice momentum through 2017, making inroads in the desktop market and 2018 looks to keep that ball rolling. New APUs in February, Ryzen+ in April and Threadripper refresh in the second half of the year is definitely going to keep the competition on their toes.