"Competition is good", says AMD. Competition brings out the best in people and in companies. After years of Intel wiping the floor with it in processor sales, AMD says it's back, and it has the numbers to prove it.
And the underdog processing hardware company has its Ryzen chipset to thank for that. AMD's president and CEO Lisa Su, says that — even though AMD has been through a tough couple of years — it's starting to deliver on its backlog of R&D in CPU and GPU. "Our strengths are in high performance graphics and high performance computing — and putting those together.
"PC gaming, VR/AR, the cloud — all of these require high performance computing." AMD's 'immersive devices' like PC and console graphics, as well as regular ol' CPUs, are benefiting from those years of quiet research and slowly slipping market share. And, finally, AMD is building out its CPU line-up to take on everything from data centres to low-end desktops and ultraportable laptops. This is Good News, even if you're an Intel die-hard, because competition is good.
The new family of Epyc CPUs is designed for data centres, but will run double duty in high-end desktops. Up to 32 cores on a single socket and 64 cores on a dual-socket setup means that Epyc should have a particular part of the data centre server market locked down. Also known as Ryzen Threadripper when it comes to desktops — what a bloody good name — it'll be launched in the near future with 16 cores on a single chip. Epyc will be coming out around the world on June 20th, so we'll see its power first-hand then.
Having the highest-performing 8-core CPU plus the lowest price 8-core CPU makes AMD's Ryzen 7 a pretty compelling buy for any gamer or system-builder looking to buy or put together a new machine. A more affordable but still multi-core series called Ryzen 3 is coming later this year, as is Theadripper, so that makes the high-end and the low-end increasingly in range of AMD's slowly extending CPU strategy.
But here's the big thing: AMD is starting to kick goals getting Ryzen into mainstream desktops, laptops and all-in-ones from its OEM partners. Dell has three new devices — two Inspiron AIOs running Ryzen CPUs and new AMD graphics, and its first ever affordable gaming desktop in the Inspiron line. Acer is bringing out a new line of casual gaming laptops with Ryzen CPUs and HP is bringing the top Ryzen 1800X to its Omen gaming tower. Lenovo has new machines. Asus has new laptops running Ryzen CPUs.
And it's not stopping, either. AMD's upcoming Ryzen Mobile has "a tremendous amount of CPU and GPU performance in a very small form factor" — a sub-15mm notebook with four cores and eight threads, plus Vega graphics, was shown off in the demonstration, but no more details were shared. Ryzen Threadripper will be a 16-core, 32-thread processor with 64 PCI-e lanes, four channels of DDR4 memory — the ultra-high end taking on Intel's Core i9 machines.
Intel is obviously still the big dog in CPU around the world — understandably so, after years and years of domination across the entire market. It's not going to change overnight. And so it shouldn't; it's earned that place through massive research and smart marketing and quality products. But if Ryzen continues to take off like it has, though, that might change in the near future. We might be returning to the good ol' days where PC builders and buyers had legitimate choice and competition in the machines they bought.