Rumors and leaks of information have been making the rounds on the Web for some time now, but it’s finally official and, frankly, rather exciting: AMD has unveiled its new generation of desktop computer processors, the Ryzen 7000, during a Computex keynote. The company confirmed, in a number of ways, that this truly is its next step in the evolution of the Zen architecture: the new Ryzens need new motherboards, new memory and even new storage in order to really show what they are capable of. AMD is leaving the AM4 platform, which has served millions of consumers well, behind: along with the new Ryzens, AM5 is coming.
First things first: AMD’s new processors are based on the Zen 4 architecture which offers many notable advantages compared to its predecessor. It’s built around TSMC’s optimized 5nm process, meaning that these processors will run cooler for longer and hit speeds of more than 5 GHz at all cores consistently. AMD promises a 15% uplift in single-thread performance, which is great for gaming, while the L2 cache is increased to 1MB per core, which will help a lot of applications too. The mainstream Ryzen 7000 line will go up to 16 cores and 32 threads (other AMD processors of the same architecture are expected to offer more).
This will also be the first Ryzen line of desktop processors that will properly incorporate a graphics subsystem, so users won’t have to own a graphics card in order to boot and/or troubleshoot a PC system built around them. This subsystem is RDNA2-based, so it will be of decent performance, even if its actual specs will differ between Ryzen 7000 models. For basic tasks, though, it will be more than enough for many consumers and businesses.
Then it’s the new AM5 platform that deserves people’s attention: this is only compatible with processors of the Ryzen 7000 series (the new processors also don’t work with AM4 motherboards as the socket is different), even requiring the use of DDR5 memory (which is rather expensive at the moment and continue to be for the foreseeable future). It does offer full PCIe 5.0 compatibility, though, while it also supports AM4 coolers (which was rather unexpected).
AMD will be offering three different chipsets for the AM5 platform, at least initially: from the most affordable to the most fully featured these will be the B650, X670 and X670 Extreme. The first one will only offer PCIe 5.0 support in storage (supporting PCIe 4.0 graphics), the second one will offer optional PCIe 5.0 graphics too (plus overclocking functionality) while the third one will go all out in terms of overclocking and expandability. Reminder: all three chipsets require dual-channel DDR5 memory in order to work.
The company did not announce specific Ryzen 7000 models or prices for those during its keynote (nobody expected it to), but it did confirm that its new line of processors will launch “during the fall” at some point. As to how these will compare to Intel’s best consumer processors — which have reclaimed the performance crown in gaming and several application types with the release of the “Alder Lake” 12th-gen Core i9/i7/i5 models — AMD showed off a Ryzen 7000 model of 16 cores and 32 threads being around 35% faster than a Core i9 12900K at a popular Blender benchmark test.
It will be a while before we have a clear picture of where AMD and Intel stand in the CPU wars of 2022, but the former does seem to come fully prepared to reclaim the throne of the company selling the best all-around processors for modern computers today. Fierce competition between those two proved beneficial for the PC market in years past, so — assuming the global chip shortage does not last much longer — one can expect the same to happen in the future.
Here’s hope that this competition will also drive DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0 storage prices down too, leading both Intel and AMD to a better place than the one both had to spend some time in during the pandemic. Only a few months to go, then!