AMD has a brand new generation of Ryzen CPUs coming in early 2019. Based on a next-gen Zen 2 architecture, the Ryzen 3000 series, as it is expected to be called, should offer dramatic performance improvements over its predecessor, the Ryzen 2000 series. AMD hasn’t been forthcoming with any specifications or specifics about the chips, but rumors suggest that they will be very powerful indeed.
As we approach the expected official unveiling of the Ryzen 3000 CPUs at CES 2019, here’s everything you need to know about AMD’s new chips.
Pricing and availability
AMD initially claimed that the first samples of its Ryzen 3000 series CPUs would be available in late 2018, but CEO Lisa Su, has since confirmed AMD’s plan to debut the range at CES 2019 in January.
We got our first glimpse of that generation of technology in AMD’s Epyc Rome server CPUs in early November, which gave us further hints about what kind of architecture we can expect in the Ryzen 3000 range (see below). That doesn’t tell us much about the release date for Ryzen, but since they are built on the same technology, it suggests that there shouldn’t be any supply issues causing further delays.
It’s not clear yet how long after CES the Ryzen 3000 CPUs would launch, though YouTuber AdoredTV did release a supposedly leaked chart of Ryzen information at the beginning of December. It suggested that following the debut of most of the next-gen range at CES, there would be further chip reveals in May and Q3 2019. Although it’s purely speculative, we would expect the main body of chips to be available before the announcement of further CPUs, so a Q1 release for Ryzen 3000 seems most likely.
That alleged leak also contained pricing information which painted the Ryzen 3000 series as being comparable on cost to the Ryzen 2000 series. Entry level CPUs would cost between $100 and $130, with the mid range stretching between $180 and $330. The absolute top of the line chips are said to cost $450 and $500.
Architecture and performance
The Ryzen 3000 series will be built upon a successor architecture to the Zen and Zen+ used in the first and second-generation chips, known as Zen 2. It represents a major overhaul to the design of the CPUs, as well as a die shrinking for certain components. Looking to enhance performance but avoid some of the yield difficulties Intel has faced with sub 12nm designs, AMD has opted to split its next-gen chips into 7nm “chiplets,” built on TSMC’s 7 nm FinFET process. They contain the CPU cores and are paired with a 14nm input/output (I/O) processor which gives them direct connections to memory, which should reduce the latency concerns that we saw on similar designs with the Zen and Zen+ based Threadripper CPUs.
This design ethos was first described by AMD as part of the debut of its Rome Epyc server CPUs and is somewhat confirmed by the AdoredTV leak in early December. In that latter video, we were told that the low-end chips with six cores, will have them all on one chiplet, and then a dummy chiplet alongside it and the 14nm I/O. The eight core parts would see their cores split into two chiplets with four cores each, 12 cores would have six core chiplets, while the 16 core chips would have eight cores in each chiplet. APUs would have the CPU cores in one chiplet and the GPU cores in the second, if the leak proves accurate.
Although AMD has yet to confirm these specifications, this is the full chip lineup as recent leaks have described it:
Ryzen 3 3300
Ryzen 3 3300X
Ryzen 3 3300G
Ryzen 5 3600
Ryzen 5 3600X
Ryzen 5 3600G
Ryzen 7 3700
Ryzen 7 3700X
Ryzen 9 3800X
Ryzen 9 3850X
If accurate, these specifications suggest that the Zen 2 architecture improves upon Zen and Zen+ designs dramatically. It appears to have made it possible to pack more cores into the same physical form factor, as well as leading to a big increase in clock speed without any change in TDP requirements.
The cores on offer with these chips are far greater than those in Ryzen 2000 CPUs, or even Intel’s latest ninth-generation chips. Clock speeds are comparable to that of Intel’s best chips and yet those frequencies are only possible on Intel’s CPUs on a couple of cores at a time without heavy overclocking. AMD’s turbo frequencies are typically applied to all cores, so the Ryzen 3000 series could be the first to offer an all-core 5GHz+ frequency out of the box.
The range is broader than the second-generation Ryzen line, offering more options for consumers with a wider price range. The sweet spot is likely to be the 3600/3700 and their X variants once again, although high-end gamers and multitaskers will likely be able to make use of the 3850X when it debuts.
Whether AMD can beat Intel in limited-thread tasks like most games, remains to be seen. Typically AMD’s Ryzen chips have a significant advantage in multithreaded tasks, and prove weaker clock for clock. However, other rumors suggest AMD may have made big improvements to the instructions per clock (IPC) of Ryzen 3000 CPUs. As much as 13 percent by some counts. Such a gain would be uncharacteristic of even a revolutionary architecture, but a few percent point gains in IPC would almost completely close the gap between the two chip firms. When combined with increases in core counts and clock speeds, that could make AMD’s new Ryzen CPUs the most powerful consumer chips in the world — especially if Intel’s Cannon Lake CPUs are as delayed, or even canceled, as they appear to be.
One thing we do know for sure about the Ryzen 3000 series, is that like Zen and Zen+ platforms, the Zen 2 chips will utilize the AM4 socket. That means that the Ryzen 3000 CPUs will work in existing AM4 motherboards with a BIOS update and future motherboards built with the new-gen chips in mind should support first and second-generation Ryzen CPUs in turn.
AMD has pledged to continue to use the AM4 socket through 2020 when Ryzen 4000 CPUs (based on the Zen2+ architecture) are expected to be released. That means that not only will those looking to upgrade to the Ryzen 3000 series from existing Ryzen platforms not have to upgrade their motherboard at the same time, but they won’t have to do so for the Zen 2+ chips either. That could make it a much more cost effective upgrade and the backwards compatibility opens up many more options for potential buyers.
AMD has yet to make any kind of announcement about Threadripper CPUs for the third-generation Ryzen line. They typically launch a few months after the mainstream options too, so we wouldn’t expect to hear much about them in an official capacity until next year. However, once again allegedly leaked information does hint at what the new-generation of prosumer CPUs might offer.
AdoredTV’s leak points to a Reddit thread (since deleted) that backs up his own claims, but it also has some details on alleged Zen 2 Threadripper chips. These include replacements for the entire Ryzen 2000 line up, with Threadripper 3900X, 3920X, 3950X, 3970WX, and 3990WX (Black Edition) CPUs. Those CPUs reportedly offer between 24 and 64 cores, with up to 128 threads thanks to simultaneous multithreading. Frequencies are quoted as running between 4.0GHz as a base, to 5.2GHz when boosted.
The frequencies seem the least likely to be accurate as that is a big ask with that many cores at play. However, prices are said to stretch up to $2,500 and many of these chips require liquid cooling, so perhaps they can reach those heady peaks with the new Zen 2 architecture.
What about mobile?
The only leaks we’ve heard so far have been related to Ryzen desktop CPUs and AMD itself hasn’t said anything about Ryzen 3000 mobile chips. Looking at previous generations, though, we can assume that any Ryzen 3000 CPUs that AMD puts out will actually be APUs, containing combined CPU and GPU (possibly Navi) cores.
A leaked roadmap that we were privy to back in March suggested that the Ryzen 3000 series mobile APUs would be codenamed Picasso and would be built upon the Zen+ architecture, rather than the new Zen 2 design.
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