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AMD Unveils Zen 3 Architecture, Ryzen 5000 CPUs With 19% IPC Uplift, Higher Boost

The chipmaker says its new Ryzen 5000 desktop processors are faster and more efficient than Intel’s latest Core products. ‘Zen 3 increases our lead in overall performance. It increases our lead in power efficiency, and also now, it delivers the best single threaded performance and gaming performance as well,’ AMD CEO Lisa Su says.

AMD unveiled its next-generation Zen 3 architecture and the first product line it will power, the Ryzen 5000 desktop processors, which will feature up to 4.9 GHz in boost speeds and 16 cores for what the chipmaker says will provide the best single- and multi-threaded performance in a PC.

The new 7-nanometer Zen 3 architecture, revealed in a video by the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company Thursday, comes with a 19 percent uplift in instructions per clock (IPC) over the previous-generation Zen 2 as well as highest maximum boost frequencies and a redesigned core layout and cache topology that gives the processors’ cores two times faster access to a larger cache.

[Related: Partners: Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 GPUs Will Push ‘Monumental’ Refresh]

In her opening remarks, AMD CEO Lisa Su said Zen 3 gives the chipmaker additional advantages over Intel from its previous Zen 2 products, which continue to have the highest core counts in the x86 processor markets for both PCs and servers. With the new CPU architecture, she said, AMD is now claiming to have faster single-threaded performance over Intel’s processors.

“Zen 3 increases our lead in overall performance,” she said. “It increases our lead in power efficiency, and also now, it delivers the best single threaded performance and gaming performance as well.”

The new Ryzen 5000 desktop processors are due out Nov. 5 and will deliver an average performance improvement of 26 percent for 1080p gaming with the new Ryzen 9 5900X over the company’s previous-generation Ryzen 3900XT, according to Robert Hallock, AMD’s director of technical marketing. The good news for existing Ryzen 3000 customers, he added, is that the new CPUs don’t require a motherboard upgrade and will only need a simple BIOS update.

“This is just a monumental performance jump for an in-socket upgrade in the same motherboard and a true testament for how good Zen 3 is in gaming,” he said.

At launch, the Ryzen 5000 series consists of four processors, headlined by the $799 Ryzen 9 5950X, which comes with 16 cores, 32 threads, a maximum boost frequency of 4.9 GHz, a base frequency of 3.4 GHz, a total cache size of 72 MB and a 105-watt thermal design power, the latter of which is the same for the new Ryzen 9 5900X and Ryzen 7 5800X.

The $549 Ryzen 9 5900X features 12 cores, a 4.8 GHz max boost, a 3.7 base and a 70 MB cache. The $449 Ryzen 7 5800X features eight cores, 16 threads, a 4.7 GHz max boost, a 3.8 GHz base and a 36 MB cache. The Ryzen 5 5600X features six cores, 12 threads, a 4.6 GHz max boost, a 3.7 GHz base, a 35 MB cache and a 65-watt thermal designer power. The latter is the only one that comes with stock cooler.

While Intel’s 10th-generation Core processors only sport up to 10 cores, they do feature up to 5.3 GHz in turbo frequencies, higher than the 4.9 GHz max boost frequency advertised for AMD’s new Ryzen 9 5950X. And yet AMD is still claiming faster single-threaded and gaming performance.

Using the Cinebench R20 single-threaded performance benchmark, Hallock said the Ryzen 9 5900X is the first processor to break through the 600-score threshold with a 631 score, compared to the higher-frequency Intel Core i9-10900K, which scored 544.

“We don‘t break it by a little. We break it by a lot with a score of 631,” he said. “We at AMD heard you loud and clear as you challenged us to continue investing in single-core performance, and the results speak for themselves. The combination of IPC, frequency, cores and cache give AMD the fastest cores in the desktop market and give you the best possible gaming performance.”

Hallock also showed how the Ryzen 9 5900X compared to the Intel Core i9-10900K across 10 popular PC games and — with the exception of one game, Battlefield V, which showed a 1 percent performance decrease — AMD demonstrated that the processor could provide anywhere from 1-21 percent faster performance depending on the game in a 1080p resolution.

As for how AMD’s more powerful Ryzen 9 5950X compares to the Intel Core i9-10900K, the chipmaker showed that it can provide performance improvements of 13 percent for video editing in Adobe Premiere Pro, 59 percent in rendering using the V-Ray benchmark, 6 percent for CAD in SolidWorks and 14 percent for compiling using the GCC Compile Time benchmark.

For gaming, the Ryzen 9 5950X provides a performance increase of 11 percent in Ashes of the Singularity, 5 percent for Shadow of the Tomb Raider and 5 percent for Total War: Three Kingdoms. With Far Cry: New Dawn the processors are tied.

In addition to the new performance claims, AMD CTO Mark Papermaster said Zen 3 processors are over 2.8 times more efficient than Intel’s processors in the high-performance desktop market.

“That‘s only a strengthening of the leadership that we demonstrated during the prior Zen 2 era,” he said. “We will not let up going forward. We’re focused on execution. Zen 3 is shipping as promised, and the 5nm Zen 4 [architecture is] on track, in design.”

Randy Copeland, CEO of Velocity Micro, a Richmond, Va.-based system builder for enthusiast and workstation markets that partners with AMD and Intel, said AMD’s new Ryzen 5000 processors will close the single-threaded performance gap with Intel and even exceed its rival in some cases — the last major advantage the semiconductor giant had.

“It‘s going to close the gap, and they may have an advantage, depending on how the different applications are compiled” in addition to other software tweaks and fixes, he said

In the past, Copeland said, AMD’s Ryzen processors have been more like an SUV, a multi-purpose vehicle that can handle lots of different terrains and, overall, get the job done, according to Copeland, while Intel’s Core processors have been more equivalent to a speedy car used for drag racing. But with the new Zen 3 architecture, AMD has made processors that can essentially be both.

“Zen 3 looks like you can take it to the drag strip, and it can hold its own against Intel,” he said.

While this means customers will ultimately have more choice, according to Copeland, the executive does anticipate that Ryzen 5000 will further increase AMD’s desktop market share.

“I think it‘s going to take another bite out of Intel’s market share, because we’re getting fewer and fewer and fewer reasons to pick Intel versus AMD,” he said. “And it’s going to just come down to customer choice rather than meaningful benchmark differences.”

However, Copeland added, Intel won’t be standing still for its next-generation Rocket Lake processors and future releases as the company will try to find different ways to keep up.

“I think Intel is going to be doing some of the exact same things that AMD has been doing,” he said. “I think there‘s going to be a back-and-forth between these two for the next several years.”

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