Details on Intel's Gemini Lake SoC Leak: A Refined Apollo Lake Coming Soon

Subject: Processors | May 31, 2017 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: Intel, goldmont+, gemini lake, apollo lake, 14nm

Information recently leaked on the successor to Intel’s low power Apollo Lake SoCs dubbed Gemini Lake. Several sites via FanlessTech claim that Gemini Lake will launch by the end of the year and will be the dual and quad core processors used to power low cost notebooks, tablets, 2-in-1 convertibles, and SFF desktop and portable PCS.

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A leaked Intel roadmap.

Gemini Lake appears to be more tick than tock in that it uses a similar microarchitecture as Apollo Lake and relies mainly on process node improvements with the refined 14nm+ process to increase power efficiency and performance per watt. On the CPU side of things, Gemini Lake utilizes the Goldmont+ microarchitecture and features two or four cores paired with 4MB of L2 cache. Intel has managed to wring higher clockspeeds while lowering power draw out of the 14nm process. A doubling of the L2 cache versus Apollo Lake will certainly give the chip a performance boost. The SoC will use Intel Gem9 graphics with up to 18 Execution Units (similar to Apollo Lake) but the GPU will presumably run at higher clocks. Additionally, the Gemini Lake SoC will integrate a new single channel DDR4 memory controller that will support higher memory speeds, s WLAN controller (a separate radio PHY is still required on the motherboard) supporting 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.

Should the leaked information turn out to be true, he new Gemini Lake chips are shaping up to be a good bit faster than their predecessor while sipping power with TDPs of up to 6W for mobile devices and 10W for SFF desktop.

The lower power should help improve battery life a bit which is always a good thing. And if they can pull off higher performance as well all the better!

Unfortunately, it is sounding like Gemini Lake will not be ready in te for the back to school or holiday shopping seasons this year. I expect to see a ton of announcements on devices using the new SoCs at CES though!

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Computex 2017: ASUS, HP, Lenovo to Build Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Windows 10 Machines

Subject: Processors, Mobile | May 31, 2017 - 03:30 AM |
Tagged: snapdragon 835, snapdragon, qualcomm, Lenovo, hp, Gigabit LTE, asus

Back in December of 2016, Qualcomm and Microsoft announced a partnership to bring Windows to platforms based on the Snapdragon platform. Not Windows RT redux, not Windows mobile, not Windows Mini, full blown Windows with 100% application support and compatibility. It was a surprising and gutsy move after the tepid response (at best) to the ARM-based Windows RT launch several years ago. Qualcomm and Microsoft assure us that this time things are different, thanks to a lot of learning and additional features that make the transition seamless for consumers.

The big reveal for this week is the initial list of partners that Qualcomm has brought on board to build Windows 10 system around the Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform. ASUS, HP, and Lenovo will offer machines based around that SoC, though details on form factors, time frames, pricing and anything else you WANT to know about it, is under wraps. These are big time names though, leaders in the PC notebook space, and I think their input to the platform is going to be just as valuable as them selling and marketing it. HP is known for enterprise solutions, Lenovo for mass market share, and ASUS for innovative design and integration.

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(If you want to see an Android-based representation of performance on a mobile-based Snapdragon 835 processor, check out our launch preview from March.)

Also on the show floor, Qualcomm begins its marketing campaign aimed to show the value that Snapdragon offers to the Windows ecosystem. Today that is exemplified in a form factor difference comparing the circuit board layout of a Snapdragon 835-based notebook and a “typical” competitor machine.

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Up top, Qualcomm is showing us the prototype for the Windows 10 Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform. It has a total area of 50.4 cm2 and just by eyeballing the two images, there is a clear difference in scope. The second image shows only what Qualcomm will call a “competing commercial circuit board” with an area of 98.1 cm2. That is a decrease in PCB space of 48% (advantage Qualcomm) and gives OEMs a lot of flexibility in design that they might not have had otherwise. They can use that space to make machines thinner, lighter, include a larger battery, or simply to innovate outside the scope of what we can imagine today.

Continue reading about the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform with Windows 10 announcement!

Source: Qualcomm

Computex 2017: AMD Threadripper will include 64 lanes of PCI Express 3.0, Demos with Quad Vega FE

Subject: Processors | May 30, 2017 - 10:49 PM |
Tagged: Threadripper, ryzen, PCI Express, amd

During AMD’s Computex keynote, the company confirmed that the every one of the upcoming Threadripper HEDT platform first announced earlier in May, will include 64 lanes of PCI Express 3.0. There will not be a differentiation in the product line with PCIe lanes or in memory channels (all quad-channel DDR4). This potentially gives AMD the advantage for system connectivity, as the Intel Skylake-X processor just announced yesterday will only sport of 44 lanes of PCIe 3.0 on chip.

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Having 64 lanes of PCI Express on Threadripper could be an important differentiation point for the platform, offering the ability to run quad GPUs at full x16 speeds, without the need of any PLX-style bridge chips. You could also combine a pair of x16 graphics cards, and still have 32 lanes left for NVMe storage, 10 GigE networking devices, multi-channel SAS controllers, etc. And that doesn’t include any additional lanes that the X399 chipset may end up providing. We still can’t wait to see what motherboard vendors like ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte create with all that flexibility.

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Holy hell.

On-stage, we saw a couple of demonstrations of what this connectivity capability can provide. First, a Threadripper system was shown powering Radeon RX Vega graphics cards running the new Prey PC title at 4K.

On-stage, we saw a couple of demonstrations of what this connectivity capability can provide. First, a Threadripper system was shown running the same Blender rendering demo used in the build up to the initial Ryzen CPU launch.

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Next, CEO Lisa Su came back on stage to demo AMD Threadripper running with a set of four Radeon Vega Frontier Edition cards running together for ray tracing.

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And finally, a gaming demo! AMD Ryzen Threadripper was demoed with dual Radeon RX Vega (the gaming versions) graphics cards running at 4K/Ultra settings on the new Prey PC title. No frame rates were mentioned, no FRAPS in the corner, etc.

(Side note: Radeon Vega FE was confirmed for June 27th launch. Radeon RX Vega will launch at SIGGRAPH at the end of July!)

We still have a ways to go before we can make any definitive comments on Threadripper, and with Intel announcing processors with core counts as high as 18 just yesterday, it’s fair to say that some of the excitement has been dwindling. However, with aggressive pricing and the right messaging from AMD, they still have an amazing opportunity to break away a large segment of the growing, and profitable, HEDT market from Intel.

Source: AMD

Computex 2017: AMD Demos Ryzen Mobile SoC with Vega Graphics

Subject: Processors, Mobile | May 30, 2017 - 10:43 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen, mobile, Vega

As part of the company’s press conference from Computex 2017, AMD displayed for the first time to the public a working notebook utilizing the upcoming Ryzen SoC with on-die Vega graphics. The CPU is a 4-core / 8-thread design and the system was shown playing back some basic video.

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We don’t really have any more detail than that on the platform, other availability in second half of this year. The system being shown was impressively built, with a sub-15mm ultra-portable form factor, putting to rest concerns over AMD’s ability to scale Zen and Vega to the lower required power numbers. AMD claims that Ryzen mobile will offer 50% better CPU performance and 40% better GPU performance than the 7th Generation AMD APU. I can't wait to test this myself, but with a jump like that AMD should be competitive in the processor space again and continue its dominance in integrated graphics.

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The Vega on-die integration was first mentioned at the company’s financial analyst day, though if you were like me, it went unnoticed in the wave of Threadripper and EPYC news. This iteration is obviously not using a non-HBM2 memory implementation, but I don’t yet know if there is any kind of non-system-memory cache on the processor to help improve integrated graphics performance.

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For a product not slated to be released until the end of this year, seeing a low profile, high performance demo of the platform is a good sign for AMD and a welcome indicator that the company could finally fight back in the mobile notebook space.

Source: AMD
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

We are up to two...

UPDATE (5/31/2017): Crystal Dynamics was able to get back to us with a couple of points on the changes that were made with this patch to affect the performance of AMD Ryzen processors.

  1. Rise of the Tomb Raider splits rendering tasks to run on different threads. By tuning the size of those tasks – breaking some up, allowing multicore CPUs to contribute in more cases, and combining some others, to reduce overheads in the scheduler – the game can more efficiently exploit extra threads on the host CPU.
     
  2. An optimization was identified in texture management that improves the combination of AMD CPU and NVIDIA GPU.  Overhead was reduced by packing texture descriptor uploads into larger chunks.

There you have it, a bit more detail on the software changes made to help adapt the game engine to AMD's Ryzen architecture. Not only that, but it does confirm our information that there was slightly MORE to address in the Ryzen+GeForce combinations.

END UPDATE

Despite a couple of growing pains out of the gate, the Ryzen processor launch appears to have been a success for AMD. Both the Ryzen 7 and the Ryzen 5 releases proved to be very competitive with Intel’s dominant CPUs in the market and took significant leads in areas of massive multi-threading and performance per dollar. An area that AMD has struggled in though has been 1080p gaming – performance in those instances on both Ryzen 7 and 5 processors fell behind comparable Intel parts by (sometimes) significant margins.

Our team continues to watch the story to see how AMD and game developers work through the issue. Most recently I posted a look at the memory latency differences between Ryzen and Intel Core processors. As it turns out, the memory latency differences are a significant part of the initial problem for AMD:

Because of this, I think it is fair to claim that some, if not most, of the 1080p gaming performance deficits we have seen with AMD Ryzen processors are a result of this particular memory system intricacy. You can combine memory latency with the thread-to-thread communication issue we discussed previously into one overall system level complication: the Zen memory system behaves differently than anything we have seen prior and it currently suffers in a couple of specific areas because of it.

In that story I detailed our coverage of the Ryzen processor and its gaming performance succinctly:

Our team has done quite a bit of research and testing on this topic. This included a detailed look at the first asserted reason for the performance gap, the Windows 10 scheduler. Our summary there was that the scheduler was working as expected and that minimal difference was seen when moving between different power modes. We also talked directly with AMD to find out its then current stance on the results, backing up our claims on the scheduler and presented a better outlook for gaming going forward. When AMD wanted to test a new custom Windows 10 power profile to help improve performance in some cases, we took part in that too. In late March we saw the first gaming performance update occur courtesy of Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation where an engine update to utilize more threads resulted in as much as 31% average frame increase.

Quick on the heels of the Ryzen 7 release, AMD worked with the developer Oxide on the Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation engine. Through tweaks and optimizations, the game was able to showcase as much as a 30% increase in average frame rate on the integrated benchmark. While this was only a single use case, it does prove that through work with the developers, AMD has the ability to improve the 1080p gaming positioning of Ryzen against Intel.

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Fast forward to today and I was surprised to find a new patch for Rise of the Tomb Raider, a game that was actually one of the worst case scenarios for AMD with Ryzen. (Patch #12, v1.0.770.1) The patch notes mention the following:

The following changes are included in this patch

- Fix certain DX12 crashes reported by users on the forums.

- Improve DX12 performance across a variety of hardware, in CPU bound situations. Especially performance on AMD Ryzen CPUs can be significantly improved.

While we expect this patch to be an improvement for everyone, if you do have trouble with this patch and prefer to stay on the old version we made a Beta available on Steam, build 767.2, which can be used to switch back to the previous version.

We will keep monitoring for feedback and will release further patches as it seems required. We always welcome your feedback!

Obviously the data point that stood out for me was the improved DX12 performance “in CPU bound situations. Especially on AMD Ryzen CPUs…”

Remember how the situation appeared in April?

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The Ryzen 7 1800X was 24% slower than the Intel Core i7-7700K – a dramatic difference for a processor that should only have been ~8-10% slower in single threaded workloads.

How does this new patch to RoTR affect performance? We tested it on the same Ryzen 7 1800X benchmarks platform from previous testing including the ASUS Crosshair VI Hero motherboard, 16GB DDR4-2400 memory and GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition using the 378.78 driver. All testing was done under the DX12 code path.

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The Ryzen 7 1800X score jumps from 107 FPS to 126.44 FPS, an increase of 17%! That is a significant boost in performance at 1080p while still running at the Very High image quality preset, indicating that the developer (and likely AMD) were able to find substantial inefficiencies in the engine. For comparison, the 8-core / 16-thread Intel Core i7-6900K only sees a 2.4% increase from this new game revision. This tells us that the changes to the game were specific to Ryzen processors and their design, but that no performance was redacted from the Intel platforms.

Continue reading our look at the new Rise of the Tomb Raider patch for Ryzen!

Computex 2017: Intel 8th Gen Core Processors 30% Faster than 7th Gen

Subject: Processors | May 30, 2017 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: Intel, computex 2017, computex, coffee lake, 8th generation core

During it's keynote at Computex today, Intel announced the high performane Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X platforms with CPU core counts as high as 18 (!!) but also gave a brief mention of its upcoming Coffee Lake product, the 8th Generation Core product family.

To quote directly from the Intel press information:

"As we move toward the next generation of computing, Intel also shared its commitment to deliver 8th generational Intel® Core™ processor-based devices by the holiday season, boasting more than 30 percent improvement in performance versus the 7th Gen Intel® Core™ processor."

That is quite the claim, but let's dive into the details.

Based on SYSmark* 2014 v1.5 (Windows Desktop Application Performance). Comparing 7th Gen i7-7500U, PL1=15W TDP, 2C4T, Turbo up to 3.5GHz, Memory: 2x4GB DDR4-2133, vs. Estimates for 8th Gen Core i7: PL1=15W TDP, 4C8T, Turbo up to 4 GHz, Memory: 2x4GB DDR4-2400, Storage: Intel® SSD, Windows* 10 RS2. Power policy assumptions: AC mode. Note: Kaby Lake U42 performance estimates are Pre-Silicon and are subject to change. Pre-Si projections have +/- 7% margin of error.

In a more readable format:

  8th Gen
Core i7
7th Gen
Core i7-7500U
Code name Coffee Lake Kaby Lake
Process Tech 14nm Double Plus Good 14nm+
Cores/Threads 4/8 2/4
Base Clock ? 2.7 GHz
Turbo Clock 4.0 GHz 3.5 GHz
TDP 15 watt 15 watt
Memory 8GB 8GB
Memory Clock 2400 MHz 2133 MHz

The 30% performance claim comes from both a doubling of core and thread count (2- to 4-cores) but also a 500 MHz higher peak Turbo Clock, going from Kaby Lake to Coffee Lake. The testing was done using SYSmark 2014 v1.5, a benchmark that is very burst-centric and is comparable to common productivity tasks. Even with a 15% increase in peak clock speed and a 2x core/thread count, Intel is still able to maintain a 15 watt TDP with this CPU.

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While we might at first expect much larger performance gains with those clock and core count differences, keep in mind that SYSmark as a test has never scaled in such a way. We don't yet know what other considerations might be in place for the 8th Generation Core processor platforms, and how they might affect performance for single of multi-threaded applications.

Intel has given us very little information today on the Coffee Lake designs, but it seems we'll know all about this platform before the end of the year.

Source: Intel
Author:
Manufacturer: Intel

An abundance of new processors

During its press conference at Computex 2017, Intel has officially announced the upcoming release of an entire new family of HEDT (high-end desktop) processors along with a new chipset and platform to power it. Though it has only been a year since Intel launched the Core i7-6950X, a Broadwell-E processor with 10-cores and 20-threads, it feels like it has been much longer than that. At the time Intel was accused of “sitting” on the market – offering only slight performance upgrades and raising prices on the segment with a flagship CPU cost of $1700. With can only be described as scathing press circuit, coupled with a revived and aggressive competitor in AMD and its Ryzen product line, Intel and its executive teams have decided it’s time to take enthusiasts and high end prosumer markets serious, once again.

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Though the company doesn’t want to admit to anything publicly, it seems obvious that Intel feels threatened by the release of the Ryzen 7 product line. The Ryzen 7 1800X was launched at $499 and offered 8 cores and 16 threads of processing, competing well in most tests against the likes of the Intel Core i7-6900X that sold for over $1000. Adding to the pressure was the announcement at AMD’s Financial Analyst Day that a new brand of processors called Threadripper would be coming this summer, offering up to 16 cores and 32 threads of processing for that same high-end consumer market. Even without pricing, clocks or availability timeframes, it was clear that AMD was going to come after this HEDT market with a brand shift of its EPYC server processors, just like Intel does with Xeon.

The New Processors

Normally I would jump into the new platform, technologies and features added to the processors, or something like that before giving you the goods on the CPU specifications, but that’s not the mood we are in. Instead, let’s start with the table of nine (9!!) new products and work backwards.

  Core i9-7980XE Core i9-7960X Core i9-7940X Core i9-7920X Core i9-7900X Core i7-7820X Core i7-7800X Core i7-7740X Core i5-7640X
Architecture Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Kaby Lake-X Kaby Lake-X
Process Tech 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+
Cores/Threads 18/36 16/32 14/28 12/24 10/20 8/16 6/12 4/8 4/4
Base Clock ? ? ? ? 3.3 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.5 GHz 4.3 GHz 4.0 GHz
Turbo Boost 2.0 ? ? ? ? 4.3 GHz 4.3 GHz 4.0 GHz 4.5 GHz 4.2 GHz
Turbo Boost Max 3.0 ? ? ? ? 4.5 GHz 4.5 GHz N/A N/A N/A
Cache 16.5MB (?) 16.5MB (?) 16.5MB (?) 16.5MB (?) 13.75MB 11MB 8.25MB 8MB 6MB
Memory Support ? ? ? ? DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual Channel
DDR4-2666 Dual Channel
PCIe Lanes ? ? ? ? 44 28 28 16 16
TDP 165 watts (?) 165 watts (?) 165 watts (?) 165 watts (?) 140 watts 140 watts 140 watts 112 watts 112 watts
Socket 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066
Price $1999 $1699 $1399 $1199 $999 $599 $389 $339 $242

There is a lot to take in here. The most interesting points are that Intel plans to one-up AMD Threadripper by offering an 18-core processor but it also wants to change the perception of the X299-class platform by offering lower price, lower core count CPUs like the quad-core, non-HyperThreaded Core i5-7640X. We also see the first ever branding of Core i9.

Intel only provided detailed specifications up to the Core i9-7900X, a 10-core / 20-thread processor with a base clock of 3.3 GHz and a Turbo peak of 4.5 GHz using the new Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0. It sports 13.75MB of cache thanks to an updated cache configuration, includes 44 lanes of PCIe 3.0, an increase of 4 lanes over Broadwell-E, quad-channel DDR4 memory up to 2666 MHz and a 140 watt TDP. The new LGA2066 socket will be utilized. Pricing for this CPU is set at $999, which is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it is $700 less than the starting MSRP of the 10c/20t Core i7-6950X from one year ago; obviously a big plus. However, there is quite a ways UP the stack, with the 18c/36t Core i9-7980XE coming in at a cool $1999.

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The next CPU down the stack is compelling as well. The Core i7-7820X is the new 8-core / 16-thread HEDT option from Intel, with similar clock speeds to the 10-core above it, save the higher base clock. It has 11MB of L3 cache, 28-lanes of PCI Express (4 higher than Broadwell-E) but has a $599 price tag. Compared to the 8-core 6900K, that is ~$400 lower, while the new Skylake-X part iteration includes a 700 MHz clock speed advantage. That’s huge, and is a direct attack on the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X that sells for $499 today and cut Intel off at the knees this March. In fact, the base clock of the Core i7-7820X is only 100 MHz lower than the maximum Turbo Boost clock of the Core i7-6900K!

Continue reading about the Intel Core i9 series announcement!

Author:
Manufacturer: ARM

ARM Refreshes All the Things

This past April ARM invited us to visit Cambridge, England so they could discuss with us their plans for the next year.  Quite a bit has changed for the company since our last ARM Tech Day in 2016.  They were acquired by SoftBank, but continue to essentially operate as their own company.  They now have access to more funds, are less risk averse, and have a greater ability to expand in the ever growing mobile and IOT marketplaces.

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The ARM of today certainly is quite different than what we had known 10 years ago when we saw their technology used in the first iPhone.  The company back then had good technology, but a relatively small head count.  They kept pace with the industry, but were not nearly as aggressive as other chip companies in some areas.  Through the past 10 years they have grown not only in numbers, but in technologies that they have constantly expanded on.  The company became more PR savvy and communicated more effectively with the press and in the end their primary users.  Where once ARM would announce new products and not expect to see shipping products upwards of 3 years away, we are now seeing the company be much more aggressive with their designs and getting them out to their partners so that production ends up happening in months as compared to years.

Several days of meetings and presentations left us a bit overwhelmed by what ARM is bringing to market towards the end of 2017 and most likely beginning of 2018.  On the surface it appears that ARM has only done a refresh of the CPU and GPU products, but once we start looking at these products in the greater scheme and how they interact with DynamIQ we see that ARM has changed the mobile computing landscape dramatically.  This new computing concept allows greater performance, flexibility, and efficiency in designs.  Partners will have far more control over these licensed products to create more value and differentiation as compared to years past.

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We have previously covered DynamIQ at PCPer this past March.  ARM wanted to seed that concept before they jumped into more discussions on their latest CPUs and GPUs.  Previous Cortex products cannot be used with DynamIQ.  To leverage that technology we must have new CPU designs.  In this article we are covering the Cortex-A55 and Cortex-A75.  These two new CPUs on the surface look more like a refresh, but when we dig in we see that some massive changes have been wrought throughout.  ARM has taken the concepts of the previous A53 and A73 and expanded upon them fairly dramatically, not only to work with DynamIQ but also by removing significant bottlenecks that have impeded theoretical performance.

Continue reading our overview of the new family of ARM CPUs and GPU!

AMD Announces #Ryzen7Seconds Sweepstakes

Subject: Processors | May 26, 2017 - 11:57 PM |
Tagged: ryzen, giveaway, amd

Between now and July 7th, 2017, which could also be written as 7/7/17, AMD is hosting a sweepstakes (not a contest) to promote Ryzen 7. The premise is that fans will create a video of themselves doing seven different activities in seven seconds. Prizes will be awarded for randomly selected, eligible entries. Alternatively, you can enter by doing some things on Twitter… the details are available on AMD’s website.

This is the reason why I said “not a contest”. According to the rules, these videos will not actually be judged; it's pure luck. The drawing will occur on (roughly) June 2nd, June 9th, June 16th, June 23rd, June 30th, and two drawings on July 7th. Each drawing is for an AMD Ryzen 7 1700X, with one winner per drawing.

Source: AMD

Ryzen and the art of benchmark maintenance

Subject: Processors | May 19, 2017 - 04:15 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen, ryzen 5 1400, ryzen 5 1600

Neoseeker tested out the 4 core Ryzen 5 1400 and 6 core 1600 model to see how they stack up against other lower cost processors.  They ran the tests at the highest stable overclock they could reach, interestingly both were able to hit a 3.8 GHz base clock, paired with DDR4-2400.  The processors were cooled with AMD's Wraith Max cooler so it is possible to push these CPUs further if you are willing to overvolt.  Drop by to see how these two processor match up to the competition.

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"The two AMD processors for review today are the newest budget offerings of the Ryzen 5 series with the Ryzen 1400 and 1600 models. The Ryzen 1400 is a four core/eight thread and the Ryzen 1600 is a six core/twelve thread processor, with both having a base operating speed of 3.2 GHz. The boost clock for the Ryzen 1400 is 3.4 GHz while the Ryzen 1600 is able to boost to 3.6 GHz."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: Neoseeker