AMD announces Ryzen 5000 series processors and Zen 3 architecture

The wait is no more. AMD lifted the curtains off of its Ryzen 5000 series processors and its Zen 3 core architecture at its “Where Gaming Begins” conference yesterday.

Zen 3, like Zen 2, uses a separate CPU die and I/O die on the same package. The CPU die is manufactured using TSMC’s 7nm node, while the I/O die is made on the 12nm node. Separating the I/O die and CPU dies help with yields as smaller chips are easier to manufacture.

Zen 3 package shot. The top two smaller dies (CCD) are the CPU cores. The bottom large die is the I/O die that holds controllers for memory and ports. Image source: AMD presentation capture.

AMD’s Zen 3 architecture continues to improve on Zen 2’s modular design. In the previous generation, AMD’s Ryzen 3000 series desktop processors used multiple core chiplet dies (CCD) consisting of two 4-core compute core complexes (CCX) connected over the Infinity Fabric Interconnect. Each CCX had its own, separate 16MB cache. With Zen 3, AMD has unified the pools of cache into a single 32MB pool, thus decreasing latency and increasing resource sharing across the cores.

Mark Papermaster, chief technology officer at AMD, detailed Zen 3’s revamped core and unified L3 cache layout. Image source: AMD presentation capture.

AMD has also reworked the front to back operation stack, including widening the integer and floating-point execution units (EU), load/storage operations, and the branch predictor. AMD also announced a feature called “Zero Bubble” that hides latency, a major roadblock of previous generations of Zen architectures.

All of Zen 3’s architecture changes amounted to 19 per cent IPC improvement. Image source: AMD presentation screen capture

All-in-all, AMD claims that Zen 2 will have 19 per cent higher instructions per clock while being 24 per cent more power-efficient compared to Zen 2. Further, it underscored Zen 3’s single-threaded performance by demonstrating the Ryzen 9 3900X achieving 631 points in Cinebench R20, a rendering benchmark. The company claimed that this is the first processor to break the 600 points barrier in the benchmark.

AMD director of technical marketing Robert Hallock said that the Ryzen 9 5900X is the first to break the 600 points mark in the single-thread Cinebench R20 test. Image source: AMD presentation screen capture.

The initial launch lineup on Nov. 5 will have four SKUs: the Ryzen 9 5950X, Ryzen 7 5900X, Ryzen 7 5800X, and the Ryzen 5 5600X.

Model AMD Ryzen 9 5950X AMD Ryzen 9 5900X AMD Ryzen 7 5800X AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
Cores/Threads 16/32 12/24 8/16 6/12
TDP 105W 105W 105W 65W
Boost/Base frequency  4.9GHz / 3.4GHz 4.8GHz / 3.7GHz 4.7GHz / 3.8GHz 4.6GHz / 3.7GHz
Cache 72MB 70MB 36MB 35MB
Cooler N/A N/A N/A Wraith Stealth
Price US$799 US$549 US$499 US$299

There is a price hike this time around. All Ryzen 5000 series processors cost $50 more than the products they’re designed to replace. Moreover, AMD has pulled the stock coolers from the Ryzen 7 5900X and the Ryzen 7 5800X which, in the previous generations, granted it a big value lead compared to Intel processors.

For the first time in a long time, AMD processor prices have outpaced Intel’s. At MSRP, the Ryzen 7 5800X costs US$125 more than Intel’s Core i7-10700K ($499 vs. $374), which brings it into price parity with Intel’s consumer flagship CPU, the 10-core Core i9-10900K. The price difference narrows on the mid-range, though, with the Ryzen 5 5600X being just $37 more than the Core i5-10600K (US$299 vs. US$260). The increased prices hint at AMD being confident that its products will win against Intel’s Comet Lake-S. With that said, Intel’s Rocket Lake processors–built on Intel’s 14nm process–is expected to land March 2020 to challenge the market.

Initial processor launch lineup. Image source: AMD presentation screen capture

Finally, the Ryzen 5000 series will be the last generation of processors to use the AM4 socket. The socket is now 4 years old and has lasted through three generations of Ryzen processors.

Motherboards with AMD’s 500 series chipsets will natively support the new Ryzens. Motherboards with the 400 series chipsets, however, will have to wait until January for the new beta BIOS to be released. The upgrade is forward only for X470 and B450 motherboards, meaning that once the BIOS is flashed, they will no longer support older generations of Ryzen processors. To avoid a “no-boot” situation, users will need to provide proof that they’ve purchased a Zen 3 desktop processor and a 400 series motherboard before they can download the BIOS.

AMD has also confirmed that its 5nm products are on track and that its graphics solutions built on “Big Navi” will be announced on Oct. 28.

Read our previous coverages for backgrounders on the topics covered here.

Correction: Intel Rocket Lake is set to arrive in March 2021, the article has been amended to increase accuracy.

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Tom Li
Tom Li
Telecommunication and consumer hardware are Tom's main beats at IT World Canada. He loves to talk about Canada's network infrastructure, semiconductor products, and of course, anything hot and new in the consumer technology space. You'll also occasionally see his name appended to articles on cloud, security, and SaaS-related news. If you're ever up for a lengthy discussion about the nuances of each of the above sectors or have an upcoming product that people will love, feel free to drop him a line at [email protected].

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