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article imageAMD's new processors are faster than Intel's, half the price

By James Walker     Feb 22, 2017 in Technology
AMD has unveiled its next-generation line of processors, known as Ryzen. Anticipated for years and marking AMD's return to competitive performance-focused CPUs, Ryzen could be highly disruptive. The chips are faster and cheaper than Intel's rival line-up.
AMD officially announced Ryzen's final form today. The new processors go on sale in March and are accompanied by a selection of motherboards from major partners. Three primary CPU ranges will be offered, Ryzen 3, 5 and 7. Their relative performance can be compared to the differences between Intel's Core i3, i5 and i7.
At present, only the Ryzen 7 is available, with the less powerful versions coming later. AMD has unveiled three processors so far, the Ryzen 7 1800X, 1700X and 1700, all three of which have eight cores and a total of sixteen distinct threads.
The standout model is the performance-focused 1800X. It has a base clock speed of 3.6GHz and can turbo-boost up to 4.0GHz. Despite boasting eight cores for a total of sixteen threads, the chip costs just $499. More notably for many buyers, the 1700 will retail at $329, offering a 3.0GHz base clock and 3.7GHz turbo.
AMD Ryzen launch motherboards and coolers
AMD Ryzen launch motherboards and coolers
AMD
For comparison, the closest Intel alternative to the Ryzen 7 line-up is the Core i7-5960X, which also features eight cores and sixteen threads. However, it has a price tag of around $1,100. According to AMD, it's also about 10 percent slower than the Ryzen 7 1800X. Given these figures, it becomes clear why analysts and fans are touting Ryzen as the precursor of AMD's return to market leader.
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In recent years, Intel has dominated the processor market as AMD's products have underperformed and failed to provide adequate competition. This has stifled innovation – Intel has abandoned its long-held tick-tock release cycle and no longer focuses on its desktop line-up. It doesn't need to, without a credible rival.
Now that Ryzen is finally going on sale, desktop CPUs could begin to see more attention again. Intel will be forced to react with an affordable eight-core chip, finally pushing mainstream desktop CPUs into the octa-core direction. Today, most computers still use quad-core processors, even though mobile devices routinely feature octa-core silicon.
"Four years ago we began development of our 'Zen' processor core with the goal to deliver unprecedented generational performance gains and return choice and innovation to the high-performance computing market," said Dr. Lisa Su, president and CEO of AMD. "On March 2, enthusiasts and gamers around the world will experience 'Zen' in action, as we launch our Ryzen 7 family of processors and reinvigorate the desktop computing market."
AMD Ryzen
AMD Ryzen
AMD
However, although the core and thread count is important, there are other aspects of a processor family to consider too. The comparatively low clock speeds of the Ryzen 7 range mean they won't be well suited to gaming workloads, for instance. The Ryzen 5 is likely to offer better performance in applications which can't utilise multiple cores simultaneously.
For professionals working in content creation and system administrators building new servers, Ryzen looks set to be a highly-competitive alternative to Intel's line-up. It's still too early to tell how much impact Ryzen will have. However, with Intel undercut by its old rival for the first time in years, innovation and price wars could be about to return to desktop CPUs. The result for consumers is more powerful computers at lower prices, a prospect nobody's likely to turn down.
The Ryzen 7 will go on sale on March 2, followed by the 5 and 3 later on. The Ryzen 7 1700 will include AMD's new Wraith Spire cooler design in the box, offering "near-silent" performance for high-end PC builds.
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