Subject: Processors | February 24, 2017 - 02:17 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Zen, six core, ryzen 5, ryzen, hexacore, gaming, amd
While AMD's Ryzen lineup and pricing has leaked out, only the top three Ryzen 7 processors are available for pre-order (with availability on March 2nd). Starting at $329 for the eight core sixteen thread Ryzen 7 1700, these processors are aimed squarely at enthusiasts craving top-end performance. It seems that enthusiasts looking for cheaper and better price/performance options for budget gaming and work machines will have to wait a bit for Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 which will reportedly launch in the second quarter and second half of 2017 respectively. Two six core Ryzen 5 processors will launch somewhere between April and June with the Ryzen 3 quad cores (along with mobile and "Raven Ridge" APU parts) following in the summer to end-of-year timeframe hopefully hitting that back-to-school and holiday shopping launch windows respectively.
Thanks to leaks, the two six core Ryzen 5 CPUs are the Ryzen 5 1600X at $259 and Ryzen 5 1500 at $229. The Ryzen 5 1600X is a 95W TDP CPU with six cores and twelve threads at 3.6 GHz base to 4.0 GHz boost with 16MB of L3 cache. AMD is pitting this chip against the Intel Core i5 7600K which is a $240 quad core Kaby Lake part sans Hyper-Threading. Meanwhile, the Ryzen 5 1500 is a 65W processor clocked at 3.2 GHz base and 3.5 GHz boost with 16 MB of L3 cache.
Note that the Ryzen 5 1600X features AMD's XFR (extreme frequency) technology which the Ryzen 5 1500 lacks. Both processors are unlocked and can be overclocked, however.
Interestingly, Antony Leather over at Forbes managed to acquire some information on how AMD is making these six core parts. According to his source, AMD is disabling one core (and its accompanying L2 cache) from each four core Core Complex (CCX). Doing this this way (rather than taking two cores from one CCX) should keep things balanced. It also allows AMD to keep all of the processors 16MB of L3 cache enabled and each of the remaining three cores of each complex will be able to access the L3 cache as normal. Previous rumors had suggested that the CCXes were "indivisible" and six cores were not possible, but it appears that AMD is able to safely disable at least one core of a complex without compromising the whole thing. I doubt we will be seeing any odd number core count CPUs from AMD though (like their old try at selling tri-core parts that later were potentially able to be unlocked). I am glad that AMD was able to create six core parts while leaving the entire L3 cache intact.
What is still not clear is whether these six core Ryzen 5 parts are made by physically disabling the core from the complex or if the cores are simply disabled/locked out in the micro code or BIOS/UEFI. It would be awesome if, in the future when yields are to the point where binning is more for product segmentation than because of actual defects, those six core processors could be unlocked!
The top end Ryzen 7 processors are looking to be great performers and a huge leap over Excavator while at least competing with Intel's latest at multi-threaded performance (I will wait for independent benchmarks for single threaded where even from AMD the benchmark scores are close although these benchmark runs look promising). These parts are relatively expensive though, and the cheaper Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 (and Raven Ridge APUs) are where AMD will see the most potential sales due to a much bigger market. I am looking forward to seeing more information on the lower end chips and how they will stack up against Intel and its attempts to shift into high gear with moves like enabling Hyper-Threading on lower end Kaby Lake Pentiums and possibly on new Core i5s (that's still merely a rumor though). Intel certainly seems to be taking notice of Ryzen and the reignited competition in the desktop processor space is very promising for consumers!
Are you holding out for a six core or quad core Ryzen CPU or are you considering a jump to the high-end Ryzen 7s?