Lisa Su, AMD

AMD flexes 7nm muscle with a 12-core Ryzen 9 CPU and Radeon RX 5000 graphics cards

AMD challenges Intel and Nvidia with more efficient CPUs and GPUs
Lisa Su, AMD

27 May 2019

The coremageddon has begun: AMD has revealed its long-awaited 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X at Computex today, saying that it will outpace Intel’s 12-core CPUs for almost a third to half the price – and that’s just an inkling of AMD’s 7nm onslaught against Intel and Nvidia.

To be a technology leader, you have to make big bets,” said Lisa Su, AMD’s chief executive, speaking at her first Computex keynote. AMD’s biggest bet was in developing its chips for 7nm, and those bets are beginning to pay off.

During the kick-off keynote for Computex, AMD CEO Lisa Su unveiled:



  • RDNA, AMD’s new graphics architecture brand for its next-gen Navi core, which will be called the Radeon RX 5700 graphics card and go head-to-head with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2070.
  • An eight-core, 16-thread Ryzen 7 3700X with stupidly good power efficiency of 65 watts.
  • An eight-core, 16-thread Ryzen 3800X that all but erases any gaming deficits the CPUs have had versus the Intel competition.
  • The world’s first PCIe 4.0-ready PC parts
  • A dual-processor “Rome” Epyc server running laps on a dual-processor Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 server.

The most anticipated news, though, was AMD’s Ryzen 9 3900X CPU. Su said the 12-core Ryzen 9 will have a boost clock of 4.6GHz with a base clock of 3.8GHz. The Ryzen 9 3900X will also pack in 70Mb of cache and cost just $499.

That’s incredibly aggressive, especially when you consider that rival Intel wants $1,199 for its 12-core Core i9-9920X. Intel’s core-count per dollar value looks even worse when you consider that AMD claims the Ryzen 9 3900X will outperform it by 14% in single-threaded tasks in Maxon’s new Cinebench R20 and 6% in multi-threaded tasks. It’s not just Cinebench R20 either. During the keynote, Su showed the Ryzen 9 3900X throwing down with $1,199 Core i9-9920X in a Blender demonstration, too.

Even more impressively, the Ryzen 9 3900X will do it with a TDP rating of 105 watts, while the 14nm-based Core i9-9920X has a TDP of 165 watts. That’s not even mentioning that AMD typically measures its maximum thermal dissipation on a worst-case scenario while Intel’s TDP ratings shy toward what it calls normal use. Intel CPUs often exceed their formal TDP.

“We were not satisfied,” Su said of the second-generation Ryzen. “Our engineering teams wanted to do more.”

The Ryzen 7 3700X’s TDP is just as stunning though. With eight-cores and 16-threads, it’ll produce just 65W of heat and hit a boost clock of 4.4GHz with a base clock of 3.6GHz. A comparable eight-core, eight-thread Core i7-9700K will put out 95″ (and often exceed that).

While Su didn’t detail where all of the added performance comes from, a lot probably comes from the increased efficiency of the CPU. It had been rumoured that the new Zen 2 cores would offer a very impressive 15% increase in Instructions Per Clock (or IPC). That rumour turned to be correct, as Su confirmed that the Zen 2 cores are 15% more efficient than the previous Zen cores.

Compared to the 95W Core i7-9700K, Su said the 65 watt Ryzen 7 3700X will outperform it by about 1% in single-threaded tasks (again using Cinebench R20 as the yardstick) and a smoking 28% in multi-threaded tasks. If you’re not impressed by a 1% performance difference, remember the Ryzen 7 3700X has a maximum boost clock speed of 4.4GHz while the Core i7-9700K’s Turbo Boost speed is 4.9GHz. And yes, the Ryzen 7 3700X is lower in cost too, with a list price of $329 compared to the $385 for the Core i7-9700K.

If you want to burn a little more power and create a little more heat, Su also teased a second Ryzen 7 3800X that pushes the TDP up to 105 watts. That takes the boost clock to 4.5GHz and the base clock to 3.9GHz.

Although AMD’s Su didn’t mention them in her keynote, AMD also announced several new Ryzen chips: the eight-core, 16-thread Ryzen 7 3800X (3.9GHz base/4.5GHz boost, 105W, $399); the six-core, 12-thread Ryzen 5 3600X (3.8GHz base/4.4GHz boost, 95W, $249); and the six-core, 12-thread Ryzen 5 3600 (3.6GHz base/4.2GHz boost, 65W, $199).

Ryzen’s gaming deficit looks to be erased

Compared to the fantastic Ryzen 7 2700X, the Ryzen 7 3800X has a 34% higher frame rate in League of Legends and Counter Strike: Global Offensive, AMD said. In PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, it’s about 22% faster, with Overwatch coughing up 21% higher frame rates. AMD also said Dota 2 is 15 percent faster and Grand Theft Auto V is about 14 percent faster on the Ryzen 7 3800X. 

AMD didn’t share comparisons against an Intel CPU, but with that sort of frame rate increase, it looks like one of the penalties AMD’s Ryzen chips have long held against Intel CPUs at lower resolutions might be nearly non-existent now (assuming AMD’s numbers come courtesy of a system with a fast GPU like the GeForce RTX 2080 and a common 1080p resolution).

The Ryzen 7 3800X offers about three percent more performance in single-threaded tasks than a Core i7-9700K and about 37% increased performance in multi-threaded tasks, AMD said.

But that’s not the CPU that AMD probably wants you compare the Ryzen 7 3800X against. That’s because Su also showed off the Ryzen 7 3800X outperforming Intel’s vaunted eight-core, 16-thread Core i9-9900K by about 1% in single-threaded tasks and about two percent in multi-threaded tasks. The Ryzen 7 3800X costs $399 though, while Intel’s Core i9-9900K tilts it at $484 or more on the street.

Why not show the $499 Ryzen 9 3900X against the $484 Core i9-9900K?
We’d guess there’s a bit of gamesmanship there. While the 12-core Ryzen 9
3900X should easily clean Intel’s clock on multi-threaded tasks, it
would also probably lose ground in single-threaded tasks. Of course,
they’re both about the same price so it’s probably a wash. (AMD likely
gives you a cooler too.)

Winning the race to PCI Express 4

Under the heat spreader, AMD officials told us the 12-core Ryzen 9 will be built using two Client Computing Devices (or CCDs) while the two eight-core Ryzen 7 chips will be built using single CCDs. The CPU is said to have 40 PCIe lanes. How that’s counted up isn’t clear, but it may also count up PCIe lanes in the new X570 chipset too. For its part, Asus appeared on stage to announce that it will have over 30 X570 boards.

A 7nm Radeon RX 5700 too?

With Ryzen out of the way, AMD also teased its long-awaited Navi graphics architecture. According to Su, over 400 million gamers use the Radeon brand, from consoles to PCs to the data centre.

RDNA, though, was created with the same thinking that powered the Zen
brand: a ground-up rebranding for an entirely new architecture, Su

Su said its first 7nm Navi implementation will be part of the first Navi card: the Radeon RX 5000 family (with the 50-00 name deriving from the company’s milestone anniversary this year). The first GPU to hit the road will be the Radeon RX 5700, which will go toe-to-toe with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2070. As AMD’s first 7nm GPU, Su said the card will hit higher clock speeds and use less power than the current Radeon generation.

With a multi-level cache hierarchy, the Radeon RX 5700 offers greater bandwidth too. Su said the new Radeon RX 5000-series cards and their RDNA GPU architecture will offer 25% greater performance per clock and 50% greater performance per watt than its previous Vega-based cores. AMD also showed off a preview of Navi outperforming an RTX 2070 on Strange Brigade.

Su said the Radeon RX 5700 cards should be available by July, and the company is holding an event at the annual E3 gaming show on 10 June.

IDG News Service

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