AMD Shows Its Next Gen Computing Power

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) President Dr. Lisa Su was invited to give the keynote address at this year’s Computex.  As with most of AMD’s keynote presentations, they took the opportunity to show off their latest and previously unannounced computing hardware technology.  The Computex keynote did not disappoint with details on the next hardware that will bring more power to gamers.

AMD’s Radeon Navi graphics processing unit (GPU) has long been on the roadmap to succeed the current generation of graphics hardware.  AMD has also previously stated their next generation hardware will be based on a new 7nm architecture (describes the size and density of transistors in the processor).  At Computex, AMD finally revealed what this process means for the performance of the Navi generation of graphics cards.  According to Dr. Su, AMD is introducing a new compute unit design (the workhorse centers of a graphics card) called RDNA.  The new architecture of the compute units alone provided 1.25x performance per clock and 1.5x performance per watt over the previous compute unit design, meaning higher performance with less power draw just from a refactor of the way the processor thinks.  AMD also started putting some names to the new Navi cards, introducing the Radeon RX 5000 series.  A demo of the game Strange Brigade was shown pitting the new RX 5000 series against an nVidia RTX 2070.  The result was the RX 5000 with 10% higher performance.  It should be noted that Strange Brigade already showed a propensity to perform very well on AMD graphics cards, but the comparison to the RTX 2070 is still a good one.  AMD revealed very little else about the new GPU.  Instead, they teased a larger reveal coming June 10 at 3pm PST during the upcoming E3.  Tune in for more details then.

Perhaps the star of the presentation from a gamer’s viewpoint is the reveal of the new AMD Ryzen central processing unit (CPU) based on the new Zen 2 core.  This third generation Ryzen CPU takes advantage of the 7nm process resulting in a base two times floating point execution and 15% greater instructions per clock over the previous generation.  The new Ryzen CPU uses the existing AM4 socket form factor, which is important for those who do not wish to upgrade their motherboard just yet.  In addition, the CPU is the first that is PCIe 4.0 ready, meaning that it supports more bandwidth on the PCI lanes when pared with a capable motherboard (the new X570 series).  PCI bandwidth impacts performance of PCI connected hardware like graphics cards and solid state drives (SSDs).

AMD was more forthcoming with their third generation Ryzen presentation than that of the Navi reveal.  The presentation revealed three new CPUs using the Zen 2 core: Ryzen 7 3700X, Ryzen 7 3800X, and Ryzen 9 3900X.  All three use the 7nm Zen 2 cores with increasing performance.  The 3700X and 3800X CPUs each have 8 cores and 16 threads with a larger 36MB cache.  The 3700X runs at clocks of 3.6GHz/4.4GHz and has a 65W TDP (power usage).  The 3800X runs at clocks of 3.9GHz/4.5GHz and has a 105W TDP.  Both of these CPUs have 15% to 34% increased gaming performance over the previous Ryzen 7 2700X and the Ryzen 7 3700X was shown to be 33% faster than the Intel i7-9700k at Cinebench R20 (a benchmarking tool to show CPU performance).  At the upper end of the range, the Ryzen 9 3900X sports 12 cores and 24 threads with clocks of 3.8GHz/4.6GHz, a 70MB cache, and a 105W TDP.  AMD pitted the 3900X against Intel’s 12 core CPU in the i9-9920X in a render challenge.  The 3900X showed 18% performance improvement over the i9-9920X in the demo while maintaining the 105W TDP versus 165W for Intel’s chip.  These comparisons mean very little without also having the pricing structure.  Fortunately, AMD revealed the prices of their new CPUs.  The 3700X will be $329USD, the 3800X $399USD, and the 3900X $499USD.  These are definitely priced to move, especially when comparing the $500 3900X to the $1200 i9-9920X.  The CPUs are slated to be available starting July 2019.

Certainly, this information is good news for PC gamers the next time upgrades are called for.  It is also, however, excellent news for console gamers as the next generation offerings from Playstation and Xbox will feature AMD hardware based on the Navi GPU and Zen 2 core CPU.  Sony has already revealed that they will be using a bespoke Navi GPU and 8-core third gen Ryzen CPU in their next Playstation console and that their storage will take advantage of the PCIe 4.0 architecture.  Given the lower power usage, low price, and higher performance of the entire generation offering from AMD, the new consoles may show dramatic performance increases over the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro.

Overall, exciting news about the next offerings from AMD, and I look forward to learning more about the Radeon RX 5000 series on June 10.


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