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AMD Ryzen Shakes Up Intel Domination

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AMD is looking to battle it out on the performance turf next year

Last night’s New Horizon event hosted by Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) was about one thing: to showcase Zen’s performance to the public. The red team succeeded in achieving the goal and gave fans a taste of what to expect from Zen next year.

First things first, as the leak before the show revealed, Zen is now called Ryzen. The top of the line CPU features 8 cores and 16 threads, base clock of 3.4GHz and 20MB L2+L3 cache. AMD says that all Ryzen CPUs will have a base clock speed of at least 3.4GHz, shunning any rumors regarding Ryzen’s clock speed woes.

The biggest feature set of Ryzen is AMD’s new SenseMI Technology. There are five pillars to this technology: Pure Power, Precision Boost, Extended Frequency Range (XFR), Neural Net Prediction, Smart Prefetch. Pure Power acts on hundreds of sensors in the chip that allows it to operate at minimal power consumption. Secondly, Precision Boost is AMD’s turbo boost and it can scale the clock speeds, thanks to the sensors built in.

XFR allows the chip to push beyond its normal Precision Boost frequency if it detects thermal headroom. So if you have better cooling setup such as liquid cooling or LN2 cooling, you will get higher clock speeds out of Ryzen. Neural Net Prediction and Smart Prefetch intelligently anticipates the workload and better equips itself to feed data. According to CEO Dr. Lisa Su, the two account for a quarter of the performance uplift of Ryzen.

“With Neural Net Prediction we are using Machine Learning to self-train and preload the right instructions to enable the machine to run faster. And once we get those right instructions, Smart Prefetch actually learns to anticipate the data the app needs and have it ready before it’s actually needed” – CEO Dr. Lisa Su

AMD had a couple of demo stations to put Ryzen in a live environment. Blender Render demo pitted the 8-core Ryzen with Intel Corporation’s (NASDAQ:INTC) own 8-core Core i7-6900K. AMD actually turned off Precision Boost on Ryzen so the CPU was only operating at its base 3.4 GHz frequency while the i7 6900K could reach up to 3.7 Ghz. The result was that Ryzen was neck-to-neck with the 6900K; an $1100 CPU.

Another point to note was that the TDP of Ryzen is much lower at 95W versus 140W of the Intel CPU. The second demo in Handbreak handed a completion time of 54 seconds for Ryzen, the Core i7 was five seconds slower. Moving on to Battlefield 1 demo station, two rigs were paired with TITAN X GPU. The takeaway from all three demos was that Ryzen at 3.4 GHz can match an Intel Core i7-6900K that costs $1100. While AMD has not announced pricing, it’s safe to assume they’ll be pursuing an aggressive price point.

The launch of Ryzen certainly invigorates excitement in the CPU market. AMD did not reveal pricing, which is the second part of the recipe for success if the company hopes to snatch Intel’s market share. CES 2017 in January will finally answer that.

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