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Sunday, October 18, 2020

AMD is Winning

AMD was talking about when they called Ryzen disruptive. This is industry changing. And you might think that I'm being hyperbolic here.

By Sudarshan Yerunkar |  | Posted on 18th October 2020

AMD Ryzen is Winning

AMD is Winning


AMD's been on a steady upward trajectory in the Steam Hardware Survey for the last few years, and they recently cracked market share of more than a quarter of all PCs running Steam, which, like, if you're a PC gamer, you've probably got Steam installed. That is a huge number, and it's going to get bigger. 


We knew that AMD would be announcing next gen Ryzen 5000 series processors based on their Zen 3 architecture. But we thought it was going to be the evolutionary but this is more like revolutionary. Not only has Zen 3 improved the instructions per clock rate by 19% over Zen 2, but it manages to do so with a claimed zero additional socket power and the exact same TDP as before. On top of that, AMD has done away with the compute complex, which means that now, all eight cores on the die are able to communicate directly with not only each other but also with their shared caches. 

No more 2x16 megabyte cache.

Now all of the cores have access to the entire 32 megabytes per die. That has huge implications for latency-sensitive applications like games. Four Zen 3 CPUs were announced early this month, and they followed the same naming format that AMD set with Ryzen 3000. So there's 16 cores at the top, six cores at the bottom for now, and they're all set to launch on November 5th. 

A Hard Launch.

For the first time in a long, long time, AMD has seen fit to increase the pricing of their offerings above Intel's, a move that may just work out for them. Honestly, I'm not even mad, as long as they pour that extra cash into RND and keep PC gaming's traditional cycle of excitement. One disappointment is that AMD still hasn't managed to cross that magical five gigahertz milestone. But boost clocks are growing upward with 4.6 gigahertz being the slowest of the bunch, and when you combine that with the arguably more important massive per clock performance improvements, you've got a recipe for speed. Based on the slides that AMD showed off, we're expecting gamers to see anywhere from a 20 to 50% improvement in performance over Ryzen 3000. And with numbers like that, AMD should roughly match Intel as a worst case, or even beat them by up to 20%. I mean CS GO used to be an Intel stronghold; now, more like a flaccid hold. 

AMD is now also claiming 1v1, so this is just with a single core working, they can beat Intel by nearly 90 points in CineBench. And like, they already had a pretty big lead in productivity applications, thanks to their higher core counts at pretty much every price point. Furthermore, they're claiming that the Ryzen 9 5950X, so that's the 16-core, should beat Intel's core i9 for CAD for the first time, as well as pulling off nearly 60% more performance in V-Ray. It's important to remember guys, though, that there's not really an Intel-equivalent chip to the 5950X, at least on the consumer desktop, so we'd like to see the 5900X in those workloads too. 

Now we know that matching Intel's gaming performance might not seem like that big of a deal to some of you out there, but it is. AMD fans and fans of competition in the CPU space in general have been salivating for over three years now watching AMD's trajectory versus Intel's trajectory, waiting for them to meet so that eventually, AMD would end up on top again. I mean, how long's it been? Yes, 14 years. 


Ryzen Disruptive

Guys, this is what AMD was talking about when they called Ryzen disruptive. This is industry changing. And you might think that I'm being hyperbolic here, so why don't we change gears and talk about Intel for a moment? 10th gen core is still using Intel's, tried and tested 14-nanometer process, which to be fair to Intel, does have better density than most competing 10-nanometer processes. But the problem is that TSMC's seven-nanometer process that AMD is using is roughly as dense as Intel's 10-nanometer, which Intel is already shipping in laptops, so you know, you might think Intel should be able to dust themselves off with the upcoming 11th gen core series code name Rocket Lake, and come charging back into the fight, right? Maybe, thing is Intel's going to need to pull a serious rabbit out of their hat at this point because they've thrown every engineering solution at this problem up to and including actually shaving down the physical thickness of their CPU dies to improve thermal conductivity so they can squeeze out a little bit more performance. And, making matters worse, Rocket Lake is rumoured to be yet another 14-nanometer CPU, although it's also rumoured to be based on the same core architecture as Tiger Lake, just embiggened, which means we may see a die area increase, and consequently, a power and thermal output increase. 

What's that going to mean?

I don't know, but it'll gain PCI Express generation four just in time for that to become important as next generation games start shipping with Direct Storage, requiring high-speed SSDs for data streaming while gaming, and it's coming in Q1 next year. So, in summary, the best case scenario is Intel's missing the holiday season this year, and the worst case is they're missing the holiday season next year. 

So how is AMD able to pull of these kinds of gains?

They tell us that, thanks to their chiplet process, they're able to run development on future CPUs in parallel. And with Zen 3, they're exemplifying that by simply plonking the new dies onto the same packages that Zen 2 used, complete with the same I/O die as before. That also means that Zen 3 is going to drop right into a 500 series motherboard, running the BIOS that you may very well already have installed on your board. Crazy, right? 

Although you will want to update to the latest, when you get a chance, for the best results. As for the rest of the backwards compatibility story, 300 series motherboard owners will need to upgrade to a new board, but 400 series owners can expect a BIOS update in January to enable support for the new CPUs. Now AMD tells us that overclocking is going to be similar to what we're used to right now, with memory being the primary focus, but they gave us a little tease by saying, and I quote, "It will be a breeze to set a variety of world records of your choosing." What a terrifying thought for anyone who's wearing an Intel badge at work right now. This is kind of old days, when, by the time game consoles got through their development process and launched, they had already been outstripped because PC technology was going so fast. Like, it's happening. And I think it's fair to say that we've got AMD to thank for that.

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