AMD Ryzen - when the red rose from the ashes

During its long and rich history, AMD has been on both sides of the pedestal on the processor market - as the industry leader at the dawn of the millennium, winning market leadership thanks to the now legendary dual-core AMD64 processors (also known by the name of the AMD K8 architecture), and the role of catch-up after the rehabilitation of Intel from the failure of the Pentium line and market launch of the core architecture of the Core company (later developed in Core i). In 2011, when the blue ones secured their positions with the release of the incredible Sandy Bridge, the Reds were preparing to fight back with the architecture of the Billdozer (Dozer) and the AMD FX processor line. Loud announcements and colorful slides heralded the return of long-awaited competition, and the rush enthralled many users, but alas, the ruler did not meet expectations, because AMD’s multi-core architecture saw the light too soon - at a time when games were still working with only two cores, but multi-threading could only be dreamed of.
Having suffered an unfortunate defeat, AMD went to the APU segment, but in the period 2012/2013, it returned to the desktop processors, presenting a modified version of the previous architecture - Vishera - which became more successful and efficient, but alas, uninteresting to the consumer, who remembered the bitter failure of the “Bulldozer” . Is it any wonder that during the announcement of AMD Zen (later symbolically called Ryzen (from Risen - Risen, to resurrect)) many skeptics recalled the red fiasco of five years ago, not expecting a company that had just emerged from a long crisis, to make a serious breakthrough to competition. As it turned out, AMD carried out an exemplary work on the bugs and seriously worked on the new architecture, so that after 6 years with new forces, join the fight for a place in the sun in the high-end segment.

AMD Ryzen - Architecture Features

First of all, Ryzen intrigued enthusiasts with a statement about decent performance in the upper segment, where the Reds had not acted for many years. AMD decided to achieve significant results in this category due to the architectural features of AMD K17, worked on by the legendary engineer Jim Keller, who once raised the red ones with AMD FX 64. In the work on the new generation, the AMD engineering workshop took into account all the errors and shortcomings of the previous architecture, including logical fictitious kernels (and only four physical cores), as well as the Achilles heel of the entire FX series - use one FPU block for every two physical cores.

The Zen architecture, built on the 14-nm process technology, got rid of logical cores, and now eight physical cores with four blocks of unbelievable 16 MB L3 cache are located on the crystal substrate. Eight cores are formed by two CCX-units, four in each, connected by the so-called Infitiny Fabric - a bus, and in combination with AMD, responsible for the interaction of core clusters with each other.


Those who remember the AM3 + socket well know that due to the backward compatibility with older stones, the platform was forced to use the rudimentary north bridge as an intermediary between the RAM and the processor’s memory controller, which is why the “Vishera” was fully revealed only with complex overclocking of this component and the use of fast DDR3 memory.


The AM4 socket, as originally intended, did not contain any "references" to the previous platform, so Infinity Fabric, by default, operates at a frequency of RAM according to a principle similar to the operation of a memory controller in Skylake processors. But does this mean that Ryzen has everything going smoothly with DDR4? Not really.

The specificity of the Infinity Fabric bus, coupled with the architectural difficulties of the platform, led to problems with high latency of the RAM when working with Ryzen, which was partially offset by the high frequencies of the latter. Thanks to microcode updates, AMD engineers managed to reduce delays by 20-25%, but even in its original form, Ryzen does not suffer from serious performance losses due to high latency, and in future revisions this problem will probably be solved with architectural modifications by Infinity Fabric.

AMD Ryzen 7 - Multitasking Champions

It's no secret that AMD Ryzen 7 was expected by the majority of red fans - the older processor line, targeted at the most fastidious users, promised unprecedented performance by the company's standards - they promised to increase IPC by 40% compared to Excavator - the freshest AMD architecture before the release of Zen - and many were inclined to believe that in the circles of Liza Sue again exaggerated. Nevertheless, on the day of the launch of the Ryzen 7, it was announced that AMD 40% marked by engineers turned into 52, which meant a 1.5-fold increase in the performance of the Achilles heel of the FX series - performance per core.


And AMD is not sly - Ryzen really were not like their predecessors, dating back to the days of socket AM2. Eight full-fledged cores and as many as 16 streams met the needs of completely different users, but in their presentations the reds always focused on high-class gamers. But, as often happens, on this side, everything turned out not quite straightforward for several reasons.

Ryzen 7, as a high-end level solution, was largely controversial not only because of the price threshold (the standard eight-core 1800X went on sale at a price of $ 499), but also because of an unexpected (for gamers-enthusiasts) professional bias. . Like the notorious "Vishera", the Ryzen 7 didn’t perform best of all not where experienced players expected, but where bare computing power was required. Older Zen architecture processors confidently bypassed classmates in the render, benchmarks and utilitarian tasks like Excel and WinRAR, but when it came to gaming performance, the 1800X ran into the same rake as the Bulldozer with Piledriver - an abundance of threads and modest (compared to its competitors) performance per core was not allowed to show records where high frequency and 4 cores still rule. It was for this reason that many preferred the model Ryzen 7 1700 to the costly flagship, which provided the same level of performance for far less money.


Traditionally, the release of new processors was accompanied by a whole bunch of problems, each of which is well known to long-time industry fans - the lack of motherboards on the older socket, the dampness of the firmware and the lack of support for many popular memory whales seriously tarnished the reputation of the new product, but only for a while - the problem was operational memory and firmware for the most part decided already within a month from the moment Ryzen went on sale. Nevertheless, Intel fans for a long time pointed out how problematic was the much-awaited release of the other camp (having forgotten about the bumpy release of the 2011-v3 platform).

However, the press and fans reacted to the failure of the flagship line very sharply - Ryzen predicted the fate of the disastrous "Bulldozer", pointing to the strong position of i7 7700k, which still remains the best solution for a high-end gaming computer. But AMD put up a trump card for last, and right after the ostentatious disappointment of the press announced the expected and promising Ryzen 5.

Ryzen 5 - i5 watch out

Ryzen 5 has become a trump card for AMD where the old FX man could hardly keep up with in competition with the Core i5, the most popular and popular gaming processor for seven generations. Reducing prices and reducing the number of cores, the red ones presented the six-core 1600X, and its younger brothers - 1600, as well as 1500X and 1400. The latter could boast four cores with SMT support, which was a surprise for the profile press - initially many assumed that the youngest model in the line Ryzen 5 will lose eight streams, but now it has become clear that such a fate awaits only the future budget line of Ryzen 3 processors.


Six cores and dozens of streams appeared on the market on time - with a short pause after an extensive advertising campaign for Ryzen 7 elders. At the identical price to competitive offers, AMD was able to pack a lot more functionality, because 12 streams now are not only a reserve for future multi-stream games, but also a comfortable one. multitasking, streaming and other third-party things, which in many respects favorably distinguished even AMD FX from competitors. By the release of Ryzen 5, the Reds prepared thoroughly, and together with the start of sales, presented global firmware updates for all motherboard manufacturers, and promised to work further on compatibility of high-speed RAM whales. Progress against this background was also noted by many bloggers who tested Ryzen - in comparison with the release, the majority of processors already worked with memory at 2933 MHz, and half obeyed the milestone of 3200 MHz. AMD is assured that the situation will only get better in the future, and considering the release of Ryzen 3, there are no reasons to doubt this in the next quarter.

It is thanks to the truly “popular” six cores of the Ryzen 5 that the platform has gained hundreds of thousands of fans around the world - the sales figures of the AMD line of mid-market processors easily compete with the comparable i5 prices, and thanks to the favorable picture, in the next quarter analysts predict an even greater increase in demand for six-core and quad Ryzen.

AMD Ryzen - Ryzen 3 and APU Releases

Of course, AMD’s plans for the processor segment do not end at the output of the mass product line Ryzen 5 - in the third quarter, budgetary Ryzen 3 will enter the market, among which a quad-core processor without SMT support will probably be the flagship, and will continue to have dual-core four-stream counterparts that are comparable in price to the family of processors Pentium.


In the future, the fairly expected APUs based on the Zen architecture and the video core of the VEGA generation, which fans of the red camp have been waiting for more than a year, will enter the market - AMD has no serious competitors in this segment, and the decisions of the A family traditionally win over the likes of users who prefer not to spend money on expensive video card, playing not the most demanding games. The new generation of APU codenamed Raven Ridge should be released along with mobile solutions in Q4 of this year or in the first quarter of the coming one, depending on the situation and releases of the graphics division.

Results - AMD Ryzen: Mixed impressions, but pleasant afterword

Let's not be cunning - Ryzen did not become the final and irrevocable defeat of Intel on all fronts. Traditionally, the strengths of AMD processors (working applications, rendering and multitasking) are fully preserved in the case of the new architecture, and the shortcomings that Bulldozer and Vishera have capitulated for a long time have significantly weakened, but have not gone down in history - the increased performance on the core allowed Ryzen to compete with competitor's productive solutions in the gaming segment, but the 52% jump, although significant and unbelievable for the company, did not allow to definitively declare parity with the dream of all gamers of the current year, i7 7700k. However, despite the lag, Ryzen showed considerable potential, demonstrating universality and real power in working with video, streaming and other important aspects for players. And Ryzen 5 not only retained these advantages, but also reached the desired parity with processors of the i5 family, hinting at the speedy superiority over them.

In many ways, it will (and should) be implemented, of course, by the developers themselves - updating Escalation for Ashes of Singularity, the benchmark benchmark game for processors, brought the Ryzen 7 to the level of the 7700k itself, showing that with proper optimization of the game AMD chips are able to keep the desired bar of performance, coupled with a powerful high end video card. Contrary to the skepticism of competitors and enviers, BIOS updates for flagship motherboards models played a significant role, and the release forced many users to postpone the acquisition of a new platform - the microcode update not only reduced the high memory latency, but also increased the overall performance of Ryzen by an average of an incredible 15% - moreover, AMD stressed that this is far from the limit. With the release of Ryzen 5, the owners of the new platform received another firmware update, after which the list of compatible memory modules has grown significantly, and the basic operating frequencies of high-speed memory have grown to the standard 2933 MHz for all chips. Recalling the story of AMD FX, many expressed the hope that the transition to high frequencies DDR4 (3600 MHz and higher) will not take long to come - some have already managed to get a stable work of older Ryzen processors with memory straps like G.Skill Trident-Z, but most users have to wait for updates.

Already we can say - no doubt, Ryzen was not just a platform for experiments and opportunities for AMD, but also returned competition to all segments of the processor market, providing a choice for those who are just about to switch to a new platform. Powerful and professional Ryzen 7, successful and attractive Ryzen 5, and in the near future - and economical Ryzen 3 - a knight's move for a company that has long avoided the processor market against the background of past failures and difficult financial situation. Already today, Ryzen is a demonstration of strength, a demonstration of how it can be made cheaper and more accessible, without depriving future owners of opportunities, but by providing them. AMD has begun a new era in the processor market, and will soon begin it in the older segment of video cards, which is preparing to conquer VEGA. AMD Ryzen is our choice!

The author of the text is Alexander Lis.

Video about AMD Ryzen based on this article:


All Articles