AMD releases new Ryzen processor

by Albert Silver
3/3/2017 – One of the most important days in years for computer consumers was the launch yesterday of AMD’s newest microprocessor, the R7 Ryzen. For a decade, AMD had been out of the race in high-end desktop CPUs, but the release of the new architecture has shown it is not only back, but at a far more affordable price, and what is more: the best deal around for chess analysis.

While many younger readers will only really recall AMD as a competitor in the CPU market for mid-range or low-end processors, there was a time when AMD and Intel were duking it out on fairly even footing, much like AMD and nVidia do nowadays in the graphics card market. Unfortunately, while peaking with the Athlon series of processors, they began to lose ground over the years, and by the time the Core series by Intel came out, it was no longer able to compete at the highest level. This gave Intel a de facto monopoly and while their products evolved, progress slowed and prices rose, especially at the top end.

Today for example, if a consumer wanted to buy an 8-core Intel processor such as the i7-6900k, then just the CPU in the US would cost a cool $1049 not to mention a minimum $200 for a supporting motherboard. This would give you top-of-the-line chess analysis, but at what a cost!

Back in 2014 AMD first announced it was pursuing an all-new microarchitecture, and for over two years the industry has been in a frenzy waiting to see if AMD could pull it off. Today the new 14nm processors hit the shelves and benchmarks have been appearing all over the place.

AMD’s new line has started with three processors, the R7 1800x, priced at $499, the R7 1700X priced at $399, and the R7 1700 priced at $329. All three processors are full 8-core CPUs, with hyperthreading just as the top Intel i7 series offer. The Ryzen family of CPUs is designed to compete, initially, in the performance-mainstream and high-end desktop market.

All the processors will be using the AM4 socket, with bases frequencies from 3.2 GHz to 3.6 GHz, and turbo frequencies up to 4.0 GHz for the high-end parts. The base design supports 512MB of private L2 cache per core and 2MB of a shared exclusive L3 victim cache.

Naturally AMD has suggested processors which it feels offer direct competition against the various Ryzen CPUs. These are as follows:

Ryzen 7 1800X vs Core i7-6900K

Features AMD Ryzen 7 1800X Intel Core i7-6900K
Cores/Threads 8 / 16 8 / 16
Base/Turbo 3.6 / 4.0 GHz 3.2 / 3.7GHz
PCIe 3.0 Lanes 16 40
L3 Cache 16 MB 20 MB
TDP 95 W 140 W
Price (MSRP) $499 $1049

At the top end we see the eight-core R7 1800X put directly against a Broadwell-E based eight-core Core i7-6900K. The Ryzen 7 1800X ($499) sits at 3.6 GHz base and 4.0 GHz turbo for 95W, while the Core i7-6900X ($1049) is 3.2G/3.7G for 140W.

The two most obvious takeaways from the above chart, presuming comparable performances, are that the Intel not only costs more than double, but also consumes a lot more power (140W vs 95W)

Ryzen 7 1700 vs Core i7-7700K

Features AMD
Ryzen 7 1700
Core i7-7700K
Cores/Threads 8 / 16 4 / 8
Base/Turbo 3.0 / 3.7 GHz 4.2 / 4.5 GHz
PCIe 3.0 Lanes 16 16
L3 Cache 16 MB 8MB
TDP 65 W 91 W
Price (MSRP) $329 $350

In the mid-range, the comparison between the Ryzen 7 1700 and the Core i7-7700K is far more intriguing. While Intel gets a frequency advantage (4.2G/4.5G vs 3.0G/3.7G), the AMD Ryzen 7 1700 comes with eight cores over four, and has 16MB of L3 cache compared to 8MB on Intel. The 1700 and 7700K are similar in price ($330 vs $350) but the 1700 also comes with a new variant of AMD’s high performing Wraith cooler.

All this is fine and well, but what about performance? It isn't universally one-sided for one or the other, but one battery of tests really piqued our interest and should for any player building a machine for chess: the new AMD Ryzen processors offer unparalleled value for chess analysis.

French hardware site benchmarked both the new AMD processor and Intel's offerings on Stockfish 8 and Komodo 10. The numbers are KNPS, or thousands of nodes per second.

A great result as the AMD offering not only beats Intel's equivalent 8-core offering (the i7-6950 is a 10-core CPU and costs over $1600), but at half the price! Over 16.5 million nodes per second... incredible.

In the testing with Komodo 10, the difference is even greater, and it bears remembering that the cheaper R7 1700 will most likely clean the floor with Intel's i7-7700K in regards to chess analysis. This does not mean that it will do similarly at all things. Indeed the Intel higher clock for each core will garner it an edge for applications that do not make the most of multi-core computing, but applications such as video encoding, data compression, and of course chess analysis will see AMD's processor shine like no other.

The best news of this all, is not who is best, but that there no longer is one obvious best at all things. Competition means better prices, and better products, and the biggest winner is the consumer.

Topics AMD Ryzen

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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Mr TambourineMan Mr TambourineMan 3/3/2017 08:51
I have a 2 core brain it works very well thank you.
Rodeval Rodeval 3/3/2017 09:06
Il faudrait préciser ce qui est mesuré lors de l'expérience avec stockfish!!! Les kilonoeuds peut être.
Bertman Bertman 3/3/2017 09:35

Tout à fait raison, et je l'ai ajouté.
Jarman Jarman 3/3/2017 11:26
Interesting article. I was just wondering how the Ryzen processor would stack up against the competition in a chess environment and honestly I didn't expect to find the answer here. Good job!
mrstillwater mrstillwater 3/3/2017 02:30
While it's good to see AMD releasing a decent processor, those benchmarks are somewhat misleading as the chips are all running at different speeds. It also doesn't take into account the fact that the Intel chips will all overclock significantly higher than Ryzen can, meaning a lot of those chips which seem slower may in fact be able to outperform Ryzen quite easily.
CostaMaison3 CostaMaison3 3/3/2017 04:24
Thanks Bertman for the great topic
Magic_Knight Magic_Knight 3/3/2017 06:48
Albert, I need a disclosure: did you get any kickback from AMD to write this article?
Bertman Bertman 3/3/2017 07:01

Numbers and results aren't really susceptible to kickbacks you know. That the new AMD processor is able to produce equivalent or better chess engine results for *half the price* is a fact.
decayl decayl 3/4/2017 01:24
AMD didn't just "lose ground over the years". Intel purposely tried to put them out of bussiness using shady tactics like paying off other companies to not use AMD processors or sabotaging their performance in the Intel compiler. Just google "intel crippled amd" to get informed.
Bertman Bertman 3/4/2017 03:50

I think you misread what I wrote. I was not referring to market share but CPU performance.
Magic_Knight Magic_Knight 3/5/2017 05:40
Number and results are objective, I agree. But my question is whether you got any "royalties" from AMD as a result of your writing this article (aka advertisement) for them.
APonti APonti 3/6/2017 01:07
It's all about money - now it is Intel to move and... ?