AMD Ryzen and Threadripper news: AMD to unveil 7nm Ryzen CPUs at CES 2019 in January


AMD is planning to unveil its first 7nm Ryzen CPUs at CES 2019 – in January next year. The Ryzen reveal will also be made alongside the launch of a series of new graphics cards at the trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The CPUs and GPUs will be unveiled by CEO Lisa Su, who will be delivering a keynote address at the event.

“AMD is transforming the future of computing in our ever-expanding digital world and revolutionising the $35 billion gaming industry,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA, the company behind CES.

He continued: “We look forward to Dr Su’s keynote as she paints a picture of the next-generation of computing that will help redefine the future of gaming and virtual entertainment.”

The early release of 7nm Ryzen CPUs could well shake up the PC and server market, especially with Intel struggling to make the leap from 14nm to 10nm, and AMD freed from its contract with GlobalFoundries. 

This has enabled it to source chips from TSMC instead of the foundry business spun-out of AMD 10 years ago. It also makes it easier for AMD to ramp-up production. 

The 7nm Ryzen CPUs will be built to the Zen 2 architecture (as opposed to Zen in first generation Ryzen and Zen+ in the 12nm Ryzens released this year). They will also be the first AMD PC CPUs to be made by TSMC in preference to GlobalFoundries.

It has struggled to keep up with successive generations of CPUs, both as part of AMD and as an independent company, and recently announced that it would be sticking with its 12nm and 14nm process architecture technology, rather than compete head-on against Intel, Samsung and TSMC at the cutting edge.

The decision will help the company to improve its profitability in the short term but will almost certainly leave it more vulnerable in the longer term, especially with a slew of well-resourced Chinese semiconductor companies looking to make their way up the food chain.

The graphics cards reveal, meanwhile, is expected to be the first look at the Navi architecture slated to replace the Vega architecture at the high-end of AMD’s graphics hierarchy.

Like Vega, it will utilise expensive high bandwidth 2 (HBM2) memory and be based on 7nm process architectures. Again, it is expected to be manufactured by TSMC. 

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6 September 2018: AMD has unveiled three new budget Zen-based CPU with integrated Radeon 3 Vega graphics, as well as a number of new ‘Pro’ variants intended for business PCs. 

The Athlon 200GE will retail for $55 in the US – probably around £50 in the UK – and is intended as a low-cost, entry level device for media centres and budget PCs. 

It has two cores and four threads, but offers a respectable 3.2GHz base clock speed and three Vega graphics compute units that ought to be able to handle high definition gaming, according to AMD (which means 720p rather than 1080p). 

It will consume 35 watts, possibly making it suitable for mini PCs and living room media centres. 

AMD claims that the Athlon 200GE will knock spots off Intel’s equivalent low-end Pentiums, with gaming performance, according to its own entirely impartial metrics, up to 84 per cent faster*. 

However, details of the Athlon 220GE and 240GE have been witheld by AMD until the fourth quarter. 

AMD has also revealed the Athlon Pro 200GE and availability of the Ryzen 7 Pro 2700X, Ryzen 7 Pro 2700, and Ryzen 5 Pro 2600, aimed at businesses and the public sector. 

The Athlon Pro 200GE has the same specs as the aforementioned non-Pro version, but with some additional features that ought to interest many businesses and organisations. 

These include support for secure boot and memory encryption, GuardMI, DASH and, according to AMD, “commercial grade quality”, whatever that is. 

The Ryzen Pro CPUs, likewise, are comparable to their non-Pro counterparts; but again, with AMD’s Pro features thrown in for commercial and public-sector organisations. 

* From the AMD announcement: 

Windows 10 x64 Pro (RS3). Performance (average fps) listed in order of Pentium G4560 vs. A6-9500 (%diff) vs. Athlon 200GE (%diff):

3DMark (2011) Performance: 1221 vs. 1682 (37% faster) vs. 2039 (67% faster);

DOTA 2 (720p Low): 58 FPS vs. 38 FPS (34% slower) vs. 65 FPS (12% faster); 

CS:GO (720p Ultra): 45 FPS vs. 53 FPS (17% faster) vs. 71 FPS (58% faster); 

Fortnite (720p Low): 28 FPS vs. 36 FPS (28% faster) vs. 49 FPS (75% faster); 

League of Legends (720p Ultra): 67 FPS vs. 91 FPS (35% faster) vs. 111 FPS (66% faster); 

Rocket League (720p Medium): 40 FPS vs. 55 FPS (37% faster) vs. 67 FPS (68% faster); 

Overwatch (720p Low): 32 FPS vs. 25 FPS (22% slower) vs. 59 FPS (84% faster). 

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15 August 2018: A PC enthusiast in Indonesia has overclocked an AMD Threadripper 2990WX all the way up to 6GHz – the same day the 32-core, 64-thread monster was released.

Ivan Cupa claims that he was able to run the chip all the way up to 5955.4MHz on an MSI MEG X399 Creation motherboard, connected to a 1500 watt Corsair power supply – and with the aid of a lot of liquid nitrogen for cooling. In addition to liquid cooling, serious overclocking requires some serious equipment, as the following AMD video from the ‘Overclocking Olympics’ demonstrates.

[embedded content]

The Threadripper 2990WX, AMD’s top-of-the-range second-generation Zen+-based CPU, can also boast other overclocking-related records, including the highest scores in Cinebench R11.5 and R15, and record high scores in a series of other benchmarking software packages, including wPrime, GPUPI and Geekbench3 Multi-Core.

Cupa’s dabblings with his brand new Threadripper were picked up by WCCFTech.

Well-healed enthusiasts can pick one up for £1,639.99 from Scan, Overclockers, Novatech or Ebuyer (which has cut its price from the £2067.98 it was asking on Monday), or wait for the release of the more moderately priced Threadripper 2920X or 2950X, which are intended for more normal enthusiasts.

14 August 2018: The first of AMD’s second-generation Threadripper CPUs is now available – the top-of-the-range (and eye-wateringly expensive) Threadripper 2990WX, with the more modest Threadripper 2950X set to follow at the end of the month.

The 32 core, 64-thread monster is built on AMD’s 12nm Zen+ architecture and manufacturered by GlobalFoundries. It runs at a 3GHz base clock frequency, but can boost all the way up to 4.2GHz. 

Early reviews and benchmarks have been impressive. 

AMD claims that the Threadripper 2990WX is 50 per cent faster than Intel’s similarly specced, but more expensive Core i9-9780X Extreme Edition – although Intel is planning to pump out its ninth generation Core processors on 1 October, according to reports. 

However, buyers in the UK will need to dig deep – Amazon, Novatech, Scan and Overclockers all have the device listed for £1,639.99, while Ebuyer, for reasons best known to itself, is hoping some mug punters will cough £2,067.98 for the same thing, at the time of writing. 

The Threadripper 2990WX is intended for high-end workstations for creative professionals. That is to say, the type of people who routinely use such tools as 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, Revit, Vectorworks, Rhino, Blender, Maya etcetera. 

It’s not intended for the likes of gamers and enthusiasts, per se – the ‘WX’ suffix denotes that it’s intended for serious workstations, while ‘X’ sufficed Threadrippers are intended for serious enthusiasts, who are advised to wait for the 16 core, 32-thread Threadripper 2950X, which is coming on the 31 August. 

The 24 core, 48-thread Threadripper 2970WX and lowest-priced 12 core, 24-thread Threadripper 2920X will follow in October. 

6 August 2018: Pre-orders have opened up for AMD’s second-generation Threadripper with availability starting on Monday 13 August. 

The Threadripper 2000-Series will include a monster 32-core, 64-thread part for extreme enthusiasts and high-end workstations, but the Threadripper 2990WX will set Americans back a hefty $1,799.

There’s no news on UK pricing as yet, although Ebuyer has the previous top-of-the-ranger, the Threadripper 1950X now down to £654.99. 

AMD has split its Threadripper CPU line-up in two, with the X-suffixed parts aimed at enthusiasts and gamers, and the WX-suffixed parts aimed at what it describes as “content creators and innovators”.  

Second-gen Threadripper     
PartCoresThreadsBase speedBoost speedPrice
TR2920X12243.5GHz4.3GHz$649
TR2950X16323.5GHz4.4GHz$899
TR2970WX24483.0GHz4.2GHz$1299
TR2990WX32643.0GHz4.2GHz$1799

The top-of-the-range Threadripper 2990WX will be available first – on Monday 13 August. The Threadripper 2950X will follow on Friday 31 August, with October availability slated for the Threadripper 2970WX and 2920X. 

Announcing availability today, AMD was keen to show-off the CPUs on its favourite Cinebench tests – intended to compare them to Intel’s latest Core i9s: the Core i9-7980XE, the i9-7960X, and the Core i9-7900X.  

Intel achieved a record-breaking benchmark in Cinebench on its Core i9-7980XE by overclocking the device to 5.7GHz, a feat that required heavy-duty cooling to achieve. 

AMD, though, claims to have bested Intel with the Threadripper 2990WX, overclocked to 5.1GHz using liquid nitrogen, achieving a score of 7,618 to Intel’s 7,344. 

At stock speeds, though, the top-of-the-range Threadripper posted a score of 5,089 to the Intel Core i9-7980XE’s 4,136, clocked at 4.2GHz. 

It’s the stock scores that will undoubtedly turn heads more than the insanely overclocked scores, with AMD claiming a significant performance lead for Threadripper against comparable Intel Core i9 CPUs. 

9 July 2018: AMD is prepping two new power-efficient second-gen Ryzen CPUs, the Ryzen 5 2600E and the Ryzen 7 2700E. 

The parts are aimed squarely at Intel Core ‘T’-suffixed series of microprocessors, which run at a standard TDP of 35 watts, and intended for platforms that require a standard x86 CPU, but in a more power-efficient platform with lower heat dissipation.

Both the Intel Core ‘T’ and AMD Ryzen ‘E’ CPUs are identical to their mainstream equivalents, except for the lower wattage and consequent lower clock speeds.

The Ryzen 2600E is the low-power counterpart to the Ryzen 5 2600X, AMD’s fastest hexacore 12-thread part, which requires 95W and runs at a standard 3.6GHz and retails for around £200. The Ryzen 5 2600E, in contrast, is a 45W part but runs at a standard 3.1GHz.

The Ryzen 7 2700E, meanwhile, also requires 45W compared to 105W for the mainstream desktop part, and runs at a frequency of 2.8GHz compared to the full-fat Ryzen 7 2700X’s 3.7GHz. However, the Ryzen 7 is an eight-core, 16-thread part.

Pricing, according to WCCFTech, will shadow Intel’s ‘T’-series of CPUs.

The leaks, which have subsequently been confirmed, come after AMD in April launched similar low-power APUs with integrated Vega GPUs, intended for mobile devices. 

Like the ‘E’-suffixed Ryzens, the Ryzen 3 2200GE and Ryzen 5 2400GE chips boast a TDP of 35 watts, but also have AMD’s Vega graphics integrated in the core.

The AMD Ryzen 3 2200GE and Ryzen 5 2400GE followed in the footsteps of the Ryzen 3 2200G and Ryzen 5 2400G, which pack the same number of cores and threads, along with integrated graphics, but at a much lower power consumption.

At the same time, AMD Epyc-based server CPUs have started rolling off the production lines in China, the product of its joint venture with Haiguang Information Technology.

Dubbed Dhyana and based on the Zen microarchitecture, the deal between AMD and Haigung required a fair degree of legal dexterity to pull off, both to remain within the bounds of AMD’s x86 licensing agreement with Intel, as well as US technology export controls.

Intel, for example, was barred from selling Xeon CPUs into China in 2015 as a result of claims that they would be used in China’s nuclear and military programmes.

According to Tom’s Hardware, AMD stayed the right side of the line, legally, by establishing a joint venture in a company called THATIC, to whom it licensed x86 and other technology.

THATIC founded HMC and Haigung, with Haigung doing the design while HMC is responsible for manufacturing. With AMD holding a controlling 51 per cent stake in HMC, the company remains compliant with its x86 server-licensing obligations. It also holds a 30 per cent stake in Hygon. THATIC holds the remainder of the shares.

However, the Dhyana Epyc CPUs are bound solely for the Chinese market, with AMD benefiting from royalties on sales.

15 May 2018: AMD has launched upgraded Ryzen Pro microprocessors boasting Ryzen cores integrated with Vega graphics – what AMD used to call accelerated processing units or APUs. The parts are intended for corporate laptops and desktops, with the launch coinciding with new mobile and desktop systems from Dell, HP and Lenovo bearing the new CPUs.

However, despite their naming nomenclature, the new parts are based on first-generation Ryzen cores rather than the Zen+ microarchitecture that went into AMDs recent Ryzen 2 releases. As such, the office-oriented parts will lack the improved cache and memory latency of Ryzen 2, as well as the slightly faster clock speeds from being optimised to 12-nanometer, as opposed to 14nm, process manufacturing.

The parts encompass four desktop and three mobile offerings, all with four cores, but with the Ryzen 5 Pro 2400G, 2400GE, 2500U and Ryzen Pro 2700U coming with eight threads.

The parts are pitched at a lower price than Intel equivalents – from $169 to $349 – and, while sporting AMD’s latest Vega graphics technology, they have dialled down the performance, partly to cut costs, but also to ensure that laptops don’t meltdown under modest usage.

What makes AMD’s ‘Pro’ line-up of Ryzen CPUs different from standard Ryzen CPUs and APUs are the management features aimed purely at organisations. These include GuardMI, which offers memory encryption capabilities (like AMD’s Epyc server CPUs), a secure boot mechanism, a firmware Trusted Platform Module supporting TPM 2.0.

In terms of the new hardware from major vendors – whose support AMD will need in order to crack the armlock Intel has on the corporate PC market – Dell has been showing off new Latitude 5495 laptops with 14-inch displays, as well as very corporate-looking Optiplex 5055 MT/SFF desktops.

HP and Lenovo, meanwhile, have launched a much wider range of laptops and desktops. In among the fairly standard looking hard is, in particular, the HP Elite Desk 705 Mini G4, which promises to be a space saver. Lenovo, too, has both an ultra-small 12.5-inch laptop and a slimline desktop, the Lenovo ThinkCentre M715q Tiny, which both look particularly interesting.

However, full details and specs have yet to be released.

Next page: AMD first-quarter revenues up by 40 per cent 

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