AMD Announces Ryzen 3000 CPUs With Up to 12 Cores for $499
AMD has finally unveiled its Ryzen 3000 family, with specific core counts and boost frequencies. The company’s 7nm products have been the subject of a great deal of speculation over the past six months, as enthusiasts have eagerly awaited the company’s next generation of products.
AMD’s new product stack ranges from a 12-core option at the top for $499, to a six-core processor for $199. All CPUs now support PCIe 4.0 and TDPs have improved dramatically. AMD’s previous 12-core CPU, the Threadripper 2920X, is rated for 180W TDP. The new 12-core CPU is rated for 105W TDP. The 2920X’s boost clock of 4.3GHz has improved to 4.6GHz, though again, this refers to maximum boost, not all-core boost. The cost of the CPU is also significantly better when moving to the Ryzen platform instead of using Threadripper.
The 8-core Ryzen 7 3800X improves on the Ryzen 7 2700X’s base and boost clocks by 200MHz, but does not reduce the CPU’s rated TDP. We would expect, however, that actual TDP as measured at the wall will likely fall, given that the 12-core slips into the same 105W maximum TDP rating, and the fact that the 3700X is actually a 65W CPU.
Let’s take a moment to compare the actual AMD Ryzen launch lineup with the rumored AMD launch lineup. I took a strong stand against these rumors back in December, and have returned to the topic several times since.
The predicted product stack was almost entirely wrong, though the details vary depending on the product. Pricing was wrong — vastly too low — in every case. There is no $100 six-core. There is no $500 16-core. The product naming was incorrect. The Ryzen 9 3900X almost corresponds with the supposed “Ryzen 7 3700,” except that the predicted price is 40 percent too low and the TDP is off by 10W. This is, however, the closest the original leak comes to being accurate, and for being as early as it was, the accuracy is excellent. But it’s one part out of 10.
The closest match to the supposed “Ryzen 5 3600X” is the Ryzen 7 3800X, at 3.9/4.5 as opposed to 4.0/4.8, and costing $400 as opposed to $229. There are still no APUs known to be coming to market in 2019 in the configurations predicted; AMD has stated it will not use the Matisse design to build an APU. We don’t have a date on 7nm APU introductions, but we wouldn’t expect them until very late 2019 or early 2020 at the earliest.
These rumors were always too aggressive to be accurate given the modern state of node shrinks. Price is always the last thing that a company sets, and AMD certainly hadn’t set prices on the Ryzen 3000 family as of last December. AMD was never going to gut its profit margins or disrupt its entire product stack in the manner predicted. The company would have had to hold a fire sale on its 14nm hardware to clear the inventory in order to bring 7nm to market.
The reason AMD was able to perform such a mammoth reset on its own products with the initial Ryzen launch is that Ryzen packed a 1.52x IPC improvement over Piledriver. The 1.15x forecast improvement for third-generation Ryzen is not large enough to allow for the same drastic reshuffling of price points and product segments. AMD has been telling Wall Street that its 7nm launch would improve its margins, not damage them. Chiplets were not, as some people suggested, a magic solution to these fundamental scaling and power consumption issues.
The point here is not to crow about being right. The point is to inform you about how these product decisions get made in the first place so you can evaluate the accuracy of rumors for yourselves. No one, including me, is right all the time. Everyone, including me, has believed rumors that proved false or failed to believe rumors that proved true. But there were good, objective reasons not to believe that AMD would gut its per-core pricing and boost overall CPU efficiency and slash TDPs, and dramatically increase clock speed and double the maximum CPU core count available on its desktop platform.
AMD clearly decided to target power efficiency over raw clock with its 7nm core, which may be the result of sharp power consumption spikes as clock rises past a certain point. This is unclear at the moment, but the Ryzen 7 3700X is a remarkable chip, at 65W. At $399 and $329, AMD’s latest eight-core chips once again decisively undercut Intel’s positioning and price points.
AMD is also claiming to be quite competitive on IPC, with a 15 percent performance uplift relative to Ryzen 7. We forecast a performance uplift of 15-20 percent with a mixture of clock and efficiency improvements, but we’ll have to wait for hardware to see if the claimed gains check out. There are still a few facts that we haven’t gotten yet, like the expected improvements in memory support. Rumor suggests DDR4-3200 support formally, with potential improved support for increased frequencies like DDR4-3600. PCIe 4.0 support is also welcome, though we expect this to mainly be helpful with SSD speeds — single-GPU configurations, historically, do not gain much performance (if any) from bandwidth improvements in PCIe at the time of introduction.
Overall, this is a solid improvement from Team Red (I bow to the inevitable weight of history as far as retiring the “Team Green” moniker, since AMD has adopted crimson across its branding). The introduction of a 12-core top-end chip at the same price as the company’s 8-core CPU in 2017 is an excellent example of how AMD has continued to improve price/performance ratios since releasing Ryzen. Obviously, we will have to wait for CPUs to review, but that 12-core is particularly positioned to put serious pressure on the Core i9-9900K.
As for the rumored 16-core? Clearly isn’t here yet, but AMD should have the option to release one if it wants to. Our prediction is that the company is keeping this option in reserve, potentially as a response to any competitive moves Intel may make in the future to increase its own desktop core count. The clock speed on the engineering sample reported a few weeks ago is a bit low (3.3GHz – 4.2GHz), but engineering samples often clock a bit lower than the final retail chips.
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