AMD announces Ryzen processor based on “Zen” architecture

AMD Ryzen processor logo

AMD Ryzen processor logo

Yesterday AMD announced Ryzen, their latest generation high-performance processors, at the “New Horizon” fan event. This is the first CPU based on “Zen” microarchitecture which has been under development for the last four years. Besides new silicon chips, AMD also released technology dubbed “SenseMI” that makes use of sensors and artificial intelligence to deliver even better voltage, clock frequency, and cooling.

Hardware specs of the featured Ryzen CPU include 8-cores, 16-threads, 95-watt TDP all running at 3.4 GHz without boost. AMD claims performance gains of “greater than 40 percent in instructions per clock” which could equalize or inch out Intel’s current offerings.

The fan event showed off benchmarks and 4K gaming demos pitting the AMD Ryzen against Intel’s Core i7-6900K. According to the AMD press release, “Blender- and Handbrake-based image rendering and video transcoding demos showed that the new CPU can match or outperform the Intel Core i7 6900K.” These benchmarks and demos should be taken with a grain of salt but AMD did release the Ryzen Blender demo for users to download and test out themselves.

Zen-based Ryzen processors & SenseMI

Zen microarchitecture was originally shown at E3 2016 using the code name “Summit Ridge”. Details have been sparse since then leaving enthusiasts to question if they should continue to wait or opt for Intel chips. Luckily for them this announcement cements the official launch of Ryzen/Zen for the first quarter of 2017 (Q1 2017). Generally, the highest performing processors are released first followed by consumer desktop and notebook variations and ending with server and extreme models.

AMD touts “multiple architectural advances combined with platform and processing technologies” for Zen. President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su elaborated further saying, “The ‘Zen’ core at the heart of our Ryzen processors is the result of focused execution and thousands of engineering hours designing.”  Zen’s performance is bolstered by “SenseMI” technology which was also announced yesterday.

SenseMI is not a singular technology but rather “comprised of five components” according to AMD. Those components are: “Pure Power, Precision Boost, Extended Frequency Range (XFR), Neural Net Prediction, and Smart Prefetch.” The first three components revolve around embedded and integrated sensors for optimal voltage, clock frequency, clock speeds, and cooling capability. The last two utilize artificial intelligence, algorithms, and software, “that learns to predict what future pathway an application will take based on past runs.”

The success of these new Zen-based CPUs is key for AMD’s future and to challenge Intel’s dominance in the microprocessor space. No doubt the performance and price of Ryzen/Zen could very well make or break AMD in the consumer desktop market.

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