The new Ryzen processors, which were presented to the public a few days ago, raised an unprecedented wave of online discussions. In some ways, the first Ryzen did not live up to expectations, something surpassed them in some ways, but more importantly, AMD was able to make sure that not only are they talking much about its processor products. Due to the appearance of Ryzen, many users began seriously considering AMD processors as a possible basis for personal computers of various levels – and this means that right now there is a tectonic shift in the situation on the processor market. The new Zen microarchitecture is seriously different from Bulldozer and derivatives, so in many cases Ryzen can be contrasted even with modern Core i7. As a result, the number of those who want to buy the novelty turned out to be very solid, and there is no doubt that AMD will be able to realize all the preprogrammed millions of processors before the launch of sales without effort.
Nevertheless, it is premature to talk about the real popularity of new AMD chips. The fact is that for the withdrawal of Ryzen to the market the company has chosen a “top-down” strategy, and at the moment only older models that belong to the Ryzen 7 series can be purchased. And such processors can not become massive for at least two reasons.
The first reason is the price. The Ryzen 7 line-up includes three modifications ranging in price from $ 330 to $ 500. This is albeit cheaper than Intel’s flagship multi-core processors, but it’s impossible to attribute Ryzen 7 to the number of products of the running price category. The second reason is no less serious, it is a specific performance profile of the novelty. Ryzen 7 is able to compete on an equal footing with the processors Core i7 only if it is about creating and processing digital content. In games, however, the performance of Ryzen 7 is more in line with the level of Core i5, which makes AMD’s new flagship product a brilliant combination of price and performance for work, but fairly common for gaming systems.
That’s why a significant part of the computer community took a wait-and-see attitude and wants to see what Ryzen’s Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 variants can offer at a more affordable price. In them, AMD is going to cut the number of computing cores, which certainly will damage performance in resource-intensive but it should not affect the speed in 3D games, because even for the most modern gaming applications, an array of eight computational cores supporting SMT (simultaneous multithreading – Simultaneous multithreading) is clearly redundant.
Fortunately, waiting for the most interesting versions of Ryzen will have a relatively short time. The announcement of the Ryzen 5 series, which will include at least one six- and one four-core, is scheduled for the second quarter of this year and is likely to occur somewhere in its middle. The output of Ryzen 3 is a longer perspective: while the timing of the appearance of such processors is known only that they will appear in the second half of the year, and the composition of this series is currently unclear at all.
Nevertheless, in order to assess the prospects of Ryzen as a mass product, it is enough to see what the Ryzen 5 series is capable of. According to AMD representatives, the processors included in it will receive prices in the range from $ 200 to $ 300, that is, they will be directly opposed to the Intel Core i5. At the same time, the characteristics of the main representatives of the Ryzen 5 line have already been officially announced. And this means that nothing prevents to simulate the forthcoming novelties and give a well-founded answer to the question whether it is worth waiting for their announcement to those who are interested in the new Socket AM4 platform and the possibility of assembling on its basis a computer of an average price category. Let’s do this.
⇡ # What about Ryzen 5 is known officially
Although the Ryzen 5 series is formally considered not yet released, this did not prevent AMD from mentioning it during the Ryzen 7 official presentation and even to report the main characteristics of the models included in it.
According to the company itself, the Ryzen 5 processors planned for the second quarter are the most attractive among all AMD novelties by the price-performance ratio and, having a price of up to $ 300, can become popular with a very wide audience.
The flagship product in the series is the Ryzen 5 1600X processor. It will have six processing cores and by SMT technology it will be able to perform 12 threads simultaneously. The nominal clock frequency is promised at 3.6 GHz, and in the turbo mode, which Ryzen processors turn on when loaded on one or two cores, the frequency can increase to 4.0 GHz. In addition, do not forget about technology XFR (Extended Frequency Range): in Ryzen 5 1600X, as follows from the model number, it is supported. Consequently, under favorable temperature conditions, the frequency can increase by an additional 100 MHz beyond the values specified in the specification. As a result, according to the working frequencies Ryzen 5 1600X is completely analogous to the flagship Ryzen 7 1800X processor.
The second, junior product in the future mass series – Ryzen 5 1500X. Despite the model number close to 1600X, this processor is a quad core, which nevertheless supports SMT technology and is capable of performing eight threads simultaneously. The nominal frequency of this quad-core processor is set at 3.5 GHz, but with a low-current load it can reach 3.7 GHz. Plus, the Ryzen 5 1500X also includes XFR technology, so that the operating frequencies can grow by an additional 100 MHz with sufficient cooling.
We note a curious fact: with a decrease in the number of active cores, the frequency of Ryzen processors does not increase, but even vice versa. This means that the limitations on the limiting clock frequencies of new AMD processors are not determined by the thermal packets. They are taken from the capabilities of an affordable company 14-nm process technology. In other words, AMD squeezed out of Ryzen everything it could, what we already saw during almost unsuccessful attempts to disperse the Ryzen 7 1800X, and so the company can not offer higher nominal frequencies above 3.5-3.7 GHz.
As for the claimed thermal packages, for Ryzen 5 1600X and Ryzen 5 1500X they are very modest, just like Ryzen 7. The six-core fits into the standard 95 W, the processor with four cores – in an energy-efficient 65 W.
⇡ # What about Ryzen 5 can be assumed
In fact, almost everything you need to know about the Ryzen 5 1600X and Ryzen 5 1500X, said the company AMD itself. The only vagueness in the characteristics remained only in the part of the volume of the cache memory of the third level or more generally in specific configurations of the semiconductor crystal. However, these parameters are easy to compute with a high degree of certainty.
The only semiconductor crystal that can be installed in Ryzen 5 is the same eight-core crystal code-named Zeppelin, which is currently used in Ryzen 7.
There is no other option for AMD and will not be at least until the second half of the year when the budgetary Ryzen 3 processors come on the market. However, nothing else is required: AMD considers Ryzen 5 processors as a convenient way to implement rejection from production of eight-core, in some parts of the crystal of which there are some defects. So the main question is how AMD will turn off the eight-core chips to get processors with six and four cores. However, it is not difficult to answer it.
Recall, Ryzen’s eight-core semiconductor crystal is made up of two independent units-equal quad-core CCX blocks (CPU-Complex), which are connected by Infinity Fabric bus and share the memory controller, the PCI Express root system and other elements of the north bridge shared by the whole processor. In addition to four computing cores with an individual 512 kbyte L2 cache for each core, CCX also includes a shared 8-megabyte cache of the third level, which has 16-fold associativity and operates on a single frequency with processor cores. This cache is logically divided into four segments of 2 MB, but this division is logical: it is used in caching algorithms for low-level address interleaving and does not imply the possibility of switching off individual segments from work. That is, disabling individual kernels in CCX should not affect the cache size of the third level.
Therefore, the option of obtaining a six-nuclear Ryzen 5 1600X based on the eight-core semiconductor crystal Zeppelin exists only one. To save a symmetric configuration, one core in each CCX must be disabled. And this means that the nuclear formula Ryzen 5 1600X will look like 3 + 3, but the total size of the L3-cache will remain equal to 16 MB, as well as in the eight-core.