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Should Intel be worried by the new AMD Ryzen 9?

amy ryzen 9 launch

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AMD CEO Dr Lisa Su announced three new desktop processors at Computex, and if Intel isn’t worried then it’s living in cloud cuckoo land.

Ryzen 7 3700XRyzen 7 3800XRyzen 9 3900X
8-core, 16-thread8-core, 16-thread12-core, 24-thread
3.6GHz base3.9GHz base3.8GHz base
4.4GHz boost4.5GHz boost4.6GHz boost
65W TDP105W TDP105W TDP
$329$399$499

All three processors will go on sale on 7 July.

So how fast are they? See for yourself:

That was one of three demos, with AMD also pitching the 3800X against the Core i9-9900K in 3DMark’s PCIe feature test and in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

The latter inclusion was curious because the Ryzen actually performed worse (averaging around 144fps versus the 9920X’s 147fps), but the quality difference in the feature test was boy versus man – although this only really matters if game developers ever take advantage.

amd ryzen 9

As the photo above shows, there are also three key improvements in the 3rd Gen Ryzens compared to their predecessors. The IPC stands for “instructions per clock”, which means a 3.8GHz 3rd Gen Ryzen should be 15% faster at executing instructions than a 3.8GHz 2nd Gen Ryzen.

“Cache size” means less stuttering in games, for example, when a large chunk of data needs to be processed. And “floating point performance” won’t be noticed by most, but can come in very useful for scientific and creative applications.

amd ryzen 9 vs ryzen 7 1800x

Just to hammer home the point, Dr Lu showed the above slide. In the space of two generations, she claims, the Ryzen family has had a 32% jump for single-threaded performance and a doubling of speed in multithreaded tasks.

Where does AMD win?

With the chunky caveat that all we’ve seen so far are the results that AMD wanted us to see, these are the areas where it’s winning.

First, value. Note that AMD pitted the 3900X against the Core i9-9920X, which is a chip that costs a cool £1,300. Even if the 3900X costs £499 at launch, that’s a chunky saving.

All the signs are that it wins for multithreaded performance, too. I’ve already seen that from the 2nd Gen Ryzen processors, and with the improved per-clock performance that Dr Su claimed, it’s hard to see that not improving further.

amd partners at computex launch

I’ll also go out on a limb and suggest that AMD has also won the hearts, minds and R&D resources of the industry. Intel struggling to deliver on 10nm must have left a hole in their bank balances, while AMD keeps on delivering – both in terms of the quality of the product and on its promised delivery date.

The 3rd Gen Ryzens will launch with the support of over 50 motherboards, and, because it uses the same AM4 socket, it benefits both consumers (they can keep using old boards) and the makers (they don’t need to rethink their designs).

Throughout the Computex keynote, Dr Su couldn’t quite keep a smile off her face. She’s confident that 2019 and 2020 are going to be fine years for AMD.

And where does Intel keep the lead?

While AMD is claiming leaps forward for gamers, to the point where they don’t need to worry about the CPU, it looks like Intel will retain its lead in the gaming benchmarks. Not by much – a handful of percent, let’s guess – but if that turns out to be true, many gamers will still stay loyal to Intel.

Tied to this, it seems that Intel can still claim victory for single-threaded performance. Again, though, AMD is catching up.

I’ll repeat my main caveat: all we’ve seen so far are demos – and demos that are obviously hand-picked by AMD. But if Intel isn’t rattled by this, and by AMD’s super-aggressive pricing strategy, then it should be.

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About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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