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What you need to know about AMD's Ryzen 7000 series Zen 4 processors

 

Zen 4 is launching soon - Prepare for Ryzen 7000

It's official, AMD is launching their Ryzen 7000 series processors on September 27th, ushering in a new era for AMD with a new motherboard platform, a new core architecture, and a new 5nm process technology. The days of AM4 are coming to a close, and AMD is ready to deliver truly next-generation products.

Ambitious design goals

Every new generation of AMD Ryzen processors has been significant, with every new core design delivering considerable performance gains and increased power efficiency. The move from Zen to Zen 2 and through to Zen 3 has transformed AMD, and with Zen 4 AMD plans to deliver some of their largest generational performance leaps to date. 

With Zen 4, AMD wants to deliver gamers the fastest CPU cores and to deliver the highest levels of compute performance to creators. With their Ryzen 7000 series, AMD wants to deliver a "next-gen enthusiast desktop platform", adopting next-generation memory and connectivity technologies to deliver further benefits.

What will Zen 4 deliver

With Zen 4, AMD has promised their users large clock speed improvements and a healthy IPC uplift. For the uninitiated, IPC means Instructions Per Cycle/Clock, which effectively is the amount of work that a processor can do per clock cycle. If two processors are running at the same clock speeds, let's say 4GHz, the processor with the highest IPC would be faster. 

With higher clock speeds and higher IPC (more performance per clock cycle) AMD has been able to deliver up to 29% increases in single-threaded performance for their Ryzen 7000 series processors. 

One thing to note about IPC

When AMD says that their Ryzen 7000 series processors deliver 13% IPC gains, they don't mean that users should expect 13% more performance per clock cycle in all workloads. AMD's 13% IPC gains metric is an average that AMD has calculated using a variety of workloads. In some workloads, AMD's Zen 4 CPU cores will deliver larger IPC gains, and in others Zen 4 will deliver smaller IPC gains. Even so, a 13% average isn't bad.

AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X, AMD's new flagship

AMD is not increasing their core counts or thread counts with their Zen 4 generation processors. AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X will be a 16-core 32-thread processor, just like AMD's Zen 3 based Ryzen 9 5950X.

With their Ryzen 7000 series, AMD's generational performance gains will come from increased CPU clock speeds and IPC increases, not higher core/thread counts. This is great news for users, because all applications can benefit from increased single-threaded performance. While some workloads love having additional cores to play with, not all applications benefit from higher core/thread counts. In this regard, having performance gains come from IPC and clock speeds is preferable to having new CPUs with higher core counts.


Pricing and Specifications

Below are the pricing and basic specifications of AMD's new Ryzen 7000 series processors and their Zen 3 based Ryzen 5000 series counterparts. Below we can see that AMD has not increased their CPU prices generation-on-generation, and that all models offer users significantly higher base/boost clock speeds than their predecessors. 

It is also worth noting that AMD has increased their TDP of most of their processors this generation, and that AMD's new Zen 4 processors now feature two times as much L2 cache per core. It is also worth noting that none of AMD's Ryzen 7000 series processors currently feature AMD's V-Cache technology.  

Generational performance gains

With AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X, AMD expects a significant leap in gaming performance over their last-generation Ryzen 9 5950X, with the slide below showcasing 6-35% performance gains. 

What's even more impressive is that AMD's creator performance has improved by 30-48% in the workloads shown below, making AMD's Zen 4 processors significantly more powerful than their last-generation counterparts. If these performance benefits apply to other workloads, AMD's Ryzen 7000 series processors will be a must by for many gamers and creators.

A jab at Intel

AMD is not shy about kicking Intel while they are down. When revealing their Ryzen 7000 series processors, AMD compared their Ryzen 9 7950X to Intel's i9-12900K, two 16-core desktop processors. To say the least, AMD's CPU hammered Intel's offering in the benchmark of AMD's choosing, achieving a 62% performance lead and 47% better power efficiency. 

AMD's messaging here is clear, AMD wants to cement themselves in the minds of PC enthusiasts as better than Intel. We will have to wait for full reviews to see how true this is.

Single-Threaded Performance Leadership

AMD's performance gains this generation come from IPC increases and clock speed boosts. Both of those changes deliver single-threaded performance improvements, and AMD was quick to show that their new Ryzen 7000 series processors can beat Intel's i9-12900K processor in Geekbench 5.4, a popular benchmark.

Single-threaded performance is often linked to gaming performance, so AMD is using these performance numbers to say that their Zen 4 processors have the "fastest core in gaming". 

Where a Ryzen 5 can best an i9

AMD's single-threaded performance with Zen 4 is impressive, and AMD wanted to showcase this in games. To start off, AMD compared their Ryzen 5 7600X to Intel's i9-12900K in F1 2022, showcasing an 11% performance advantage. 

With AMD's Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 models offering gamers more single-threaded performance, AMD could have showcased an even larger performance lead. AMD decided not to do this, instead showing their Ryzen 5 model beat Intel's current flagship.  

On average, AMD has claimed that their Ryzen 5 7600X can beat Intel's i9-12900K by 5% on average during gaming workloads. While this is not a huge performance advantage, these gains are available from AMD's Ryzen 5 model, and without AMD's V-Cache technology. 

AMD's Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 7000 series CPUs offer higher boost clock speeds, and future Ryzen 7000 series CPUs could offer gamers additional L3 cache to boost AMD's gaming performance further. To say the least, things are looking good for AMD within the gaming market. 

Socket AM5

AMD's Ryzen 7000 series processors will launch alongside new 600-series AM5 motherboards. These new motherboards will feature AMD's new LGA 1718 socket, which can handle up to 230W of power delivery, and supports both PCIe 5.0 connectivity and DDR5 memory. AMD has also promised that their AM5 socket will be supported until at least 2025.   

How did AMD achieve their Zen 4 performance gains? 

With Zen 4, AMD has delivered impressive single-threaded performance gains over their Zen 3 based processors. These performance gains come from two main areas, frequency boosts and IPC increases. 

As mentioned on the previous page, IPC means Instructions Per Clock, and higher levels of IPC simply means that a processor can do more work per clock cycle. IPC increases come from architectural changes, be it changes to core layouts reductions in internal latencies, better branch predication or improvements to various areas of a CPU's core design. 

With Zen 4, AMD has refined their Zen 3 core design and have made significant changes to their front-end and branch predictor. Additionally, AMD has tweaked their core design to enable higher core frequencies, allowing Zen 4 to deliver more performance per clock cycle and more clock cycles over a given time period. These performance gains are complimentary, and have resulted in AMD's huge single-threaded performance gains with Zen 4. 

IPC - Don't expect a 13% performance gain everywhere

While enthusiasts and companies like to give specific IPC improvement numbers, the simple fact is that IPC increases can vary wildly on a test-by-test basis. AMD's 13% IPC increase number comes from an average of multiple workloads that include both gaming and productivity focused applications and benchmarks. 

Simply put, Zen 4 users should not expect a 13% increase in IPC over Zen 3 CPUs across all workloads. Some workloads will see lower performance increases and others will see larger performance increase. That said, an average IPC gain of 13% is high, and AMD's huge number of design tweaks with Zen 4 should enable performance gains within almost all workloads. Beyond that, workloads that do not benefit from Zen 4's design tweaks should benefit from Zen 4's increased clock speeds.

Below, we can see that Zen 4 CPUs can deliver between 1% and 39% performance improvements over their Zen 3 counterparts when running at the same 4GHz fixed clock speeds. In some cases, Zen 4 can deliver staggering IPC gains, while in others Zen 4 only delivers minor performance improvements. Even so, Zen 4's clock speed changes alone will enable increase performance levels over Zen 3 in practically all workloads.

How did AMD deliver more IPC? 

AMD's IPC increases with Zen 54 come from five main areas; Zen 4's front-end improvements, changes to the CPU's Load/Store mechanisms, AMD's more accurate branch predictor, their new execution engine, and the Ryzen 7000 series' enlarged L2 cache. 

With Zen 4, AMD has improved their core IPC by changing a lot of areas of their core architecture. This allows AMD's IPC gains to apply to a wide range of applications, enabling performance gains across most applications. With Zen 4, AMD's focus was mostly on their front-end, an are where AMD saw the most need for improvement over Zen 3.

AVX-512 

A new addition for AMD is support for AVX-512, which can be used to accelerate AI and various HPC workloads. For desktop PC users, AVX-512 can be very useful for emulators like RPCS3, and can significantly accelerate other niche workloads. 

With Zen 4 supporting AVX-512, AMD has gained support for a feature that Intel has basically abandoned with Alder Lake. Alder Lake lacks official support for AVX-512, gifting AMD with a selling point that was once one of Intel's strong points. 

AMD has stated that they have enabled AVX-512 support without creating a situation where clock speeds will vary wildly when AVX-512 is enabled. This should mean that AVX-512 should not cause clock speeds to dramatically decrease with Zen 4, making AMD's implementation better than the implementation found in older Intel processors (I'm looking at your Skylake-X).

Performance per Watt Improvements

Thanks to AMD's new core architecture and their use of 5nm lithography, AMD has deliver significant increases in power efficiency with their Zen 4 Ryzen 7000 series processors. With Zen 4 AMD can deliver the same performance as Zen 3 with 62% less power or 49% more performance with the same power. 

What this means is that AMD's Zen 4 CPUs should be awesome when they are eventually released to mobile customers. Performance/watt is everything for the laptop market, and that should make Zen 4 Mobile a transformative product for AMD.


Zen 4 promises to deliver

I don't know what I expected from AMD's Ryzen 7000 series, but it wasn't this. If AMD's performance claims are true, they will have easily surpassed AMD's Alder Lake series processors by delivering more performance and greater power efficiency. 

AMD has claimed that they can deliver 11% per more single-threaded performance than Alder Lake and up to 44% more multi-threaded performance. Intel will have to deliver something special with Raptor Lake to surpass that. Competition is now tight within the x86 CPU market, and we are loving it. 

With Zen 4, AMD's Ryzen 7000 series promises to deliver more performance where it matters. Yes, more cores are beneficial, but single-threaded performance is what will deliver faster systems to all PC users. Not everyone needs more cores, but everyone can benefit from faster cores.  

Like their Zen 3 processors, AMD's Zen 4 cores deliver IPC increases from a large number of architectural improvements these changes allow Zen 4 to offer IPC enhancements across a large number of workloads. This is great news for everyone, as this allows Zen 4 to deliver performance gains across all workloads. Beyond that, AMD's higher core clock speeds will deliver performance gains across all workloads, even those that do not benefit from Zen 4's architectural changes.

With their AM5 socket, AMD has also promised to give their customers another long-lived platform, confirming that they will support AM5 until 2025 (possibly beyond). That means that Ryzen 7000 series users should be able to upgrade to future processors without any issues, potentially allowing them to upgrade to Zen 5 an Zen 6 when the time comes. 

AMD's Ryzen 7000 series processors is launching on September 27th alongside AMD's X670 and X670E series motherboards. Cheaper motherboards will launch in October in the form of their B650E and B650 series motherboards. AM5 motherboards will launch with prices starting from $125. 

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