AMD Ryzen

AMD Ryzen: Tech and specs explained, and what to expect from 2nd-gen Ryzen

Everything you need to know about AMD’s Ryzen processors including specification and performance info, plus all the latest news about the next-generation, 2nd-generation Ryzen processors.

What is AMD Ryzen? The story so far

Ryzen is AMD’s newest brand of high-end processors, taking on Intel’s own Core i3, i5 and i7 chips at their own game. The technology is based on AMD’s Zen architecture, which runs on everything from the upcoming Ryzen Mobile for laptops, AMD ThreadRipper high-performance processors and AMD’s EPYC server chips.

The announcement and subsequent release of Ryzen was important for a number of reasons. First, it signalled AMD’s long-awaited return to the PC gaming market. The company had been living in a very large shadow cast by arch rival Intel, which had happily been chugging along with world-beating desktop and laptop processors for a number of years without any major developments. That’s not to say Intel hadn’t made improvements, but year-by-year they felt more minor than many enthusiasts would have liked.

AMD’s response had always been fairly muted, which lead to stagnation in the CPU market, higher prices for consumers and less innovation.

Related: Best CPUs for gaming

To put a number on it, the most cores you could get on a mainstream processor for under £400 was four.

Ryzen arrived, launching three of its top-end Ryzen 7 processors, all of which had eight cores and two of which cost under £400. Then followed six-core Ryzen 5s to take on quad-core Intel Core i5, and finally quad-core Ryzen 3 to take on dual-core Core i3.

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Intel’s response came seven months later, as the company quickly launched its 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors. i3, i5, and i7 became quad and six-core processors.

You can read more about the performance of Intel’s 8th-gen processors in our Intel Core i7-8700K review.

AMD Ryzen works with the AM4 socket, which includes the following chipsets and features you’ll find on whatever motherboard you choose to buy:

Chipset PCI Express® Gen3 Graphics* USB 3.1 G2 + 3.1 G1 + 2.0 SATA + NVMe SATA Express*(SATA & GPP PCIe G3*) PCI Express GP* SATA RAID** Dual PCI Express slots Over-clocking***2
Enthusiast X370 1×16/2×8 (AMD Ryzen™) 1×8 (A-Series/AMD Athlon™) 2+10+6 6 + x2 NVMe (or 4 SATA plus 1 x4 NVMe on AMD Ryzen™ Processor) 2 x8 Gen2 (plus x2 PCIe Gen3 when no x4 NVMe) 0,1,10 Yes Unlocked***
Performance B350 1×16(AMD Ryzen™)1×8 (A-Series/AMD Athlon™) 2+6+6 4 + x2 NVMe (or 2 SATA 1 x4 NVMe on AMD Ryzen™ Processor) 1 x6 Gen2 (plus x2 PCIe Gen3 when no x4 NVMe) 0,1,10 No Unlocked***
Mainstream A320 1×16 (AMD Ryzen™) 1×8 (A-Series/AMD Athlon™) 1+6+6 4 + x2 NVMe (or 2 SATA 1 x4 NVMe on AMD Ryzen™ Processor) 1 x4 Gen2 (plus x2 PCIe Gen3 when no x4 NVMe) 0,1,10 No Locked

Related: Best CPU coolers

AMD Ryzen 2: What’s coming in the second generation of Ryzen processors?

Hold your horses, we’re barely done with the first generation of Ryzen processors. But if we must look to the future, here’s AMD’s roadmap for its Zen-based processors.

The next generation of Ryzen processors will likely run on a refined version of the 14nm Zen cores, called 14nm+. After that, possibly around 2019 or 2020, the company will make the jump to 7nm technology. This depends upon 7nm fabrication being ready for mass production, which is still up for debate and rather out of AMD’s hands. 7nm technology is set to deliver even more power-efficient running and more densely-packed transistors.

Until that point, expect the second generation of Ryzen to be very similar to the first, but with higher clock speeds and even better stability and software support. Hopefully we’ll start hearing more about that at the start of 2018.

 

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