One of the most desired comebacks of tech industry is upon us. At long last, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Zen microarchitecture’s first iteration, Ryzen.
AMD is one of my favourite engineering companies. It is mainly due to their vision on technology and approaches that are quite affordable for the masses. Unfortunately they were out of the premier league of silicone since the introduction of Intel Core architecture and its updates. Of course AMD was causing some trouble for Nvidia with their VGA business, but not as much as it was before 2010. With the introduction of Radeon RX series last year, AMD has shown us how they make ATI’s legacy flow in their veins. Now comes the Ryzen, along with Radeon Vega GPUs. AMD’s war on (at least) two fronts is now seems much winnable.
What is Ryzen?
Ryzen are the first processor models ever built on Zen cores, a core engineered from scratch to compete with Intel’s Core processors. It took around four years to develop the core with their IPC (Instructions per clock cycle) target. Low IPC throughput was AMD weak side when compared to the competition. Also Bulldozer series of APUs lacked properly seperated units for each of their cores, a sure killer of silicon level optimizations. Along with the crippled cores, without having SMT (simultaneous multithreading) multithreaded workloads were even more of an issue.
So here comes Ryzen. Ryzen are the desktop CPUs that (at least for now) lack APU (accelerated processing unit; A CPU combined with an integrated graphics) options. Compared to Bulldozer/Streamroller/Piledriver/Excavator, but mainly the latest iteration Excavator, AMD’s aim was to catch at least 40% IPC performance boost. Dr. Lisa Su, CEO and president of AMD, claims that IPC gain compared to previous architecture is around 52%. Adding the more control over the SoC with SenseMI technologies that constantly monitor and adjust the performance, generously rewarding the better cooling, maximising the throughput and increasing the efficiency, cores perform far better than any Excavator core without any doubt. 14nm FinFET process also brings some more overhead for higher clock frequencies. Putting them all together, strong foundations of Zen microarchitecture is providing the customers with the best in class performing end user processors, the Ryzen.
Is Ryzen the best?
“Best” is an inappropriate term. I find “good/better for the job” more suitable for most of the cases. Compared to latest Kaby Lake Core processors, recently released three Ryzen processors perform slightly better than their Intel counterparts. But, AMD released only three, the best performing, top of the line processors just to show that they worked very hard for the last four years. Ryzen 7 processors are heavy hitters. You probably do not need them if you are not rendering 3D scenes all the time, or all you work on is multi layered video/design/modelling projects.
The first of Ryzen 7 models are not for everyday use. They are just too powerful for the average home, business or gaming user. Also if you love to create stuff without massive processing power, these Ryzen 7 processors are still overkill for you, just as desktop versions of Intel Core i7s. For gamers, enthusiasts and whom seek to do lot of stuff with their computer, purported Ryzen 5 and in the most of the cases even Ryzen 3 models would be sufficient. Those models are expected to be dual/quad/hexa core variants having SMT and XFR depending on the specific model. So, while Ryzen tornado clears a path for AMD’s new technology, it would be better to wait for Ryzen 5 and maybe for new Ryzen-powered APUs. That would be my recommendation.
Una Noche en Napoles
That’s sure a nice song to listen but I expect it to banned on competition’s playlists. Naples, the new Zen based server processors, bring the low level chip control to data centres. Though we do not know much about Naples processors, we know that they would use DDR4, can be packed as 1P or 2P configurations on up to 32 cores on each socket with SMT. They likely to have like 128 lanes of PCI Express gen 3 connections, mainly for thin and data loaded server’s NVMe storage options (or, of course, anything you might wish to add on that). It is nice to dream about 128 threads and a few TBs of storage and RAM on a 1U rack. Of course, until the products are finalised with the server manufacturers, it would still remain a dream.