CES 2019: AMD releasing 7nm Ryzen 3 in 2019, while Intel struggles to ship 10nm CPUs

Benchmarks performed live at CES show that AMD's Ryzen 3 hardware can compete with the Intel Core i9-9900K, while using 30% less power.

CES 2019: show floor sneak peek

At CES 2019, AMD presented preliminary information about the third generation of AMD Ryzen CPUs, which are expected to be available in mid-2019. Most notably, the new Ryzen CPUs will be built on a 7nm process, putting AMD significantly ahead of rival Intel. Intel has struggled significantly launching products built on a 10nm process, with low yields and complications converting fabrication plants leading to shortages constraining PC OEMs in shipping new systems on time.

Specifications regarding third-generation Ryzen processors--internally codenamed Matisse--are scarce, as the company is still testing production samples. AMD CEO Lisa Su noted in her presentation at CES that frequencies will be announced at a later date, as these have not been finalized. However, the new processors support PCI Express 4.0, beating Intel to market in support for the expansion bus standard. This provides 16 GT/s, doubling the maximum speed of PCI Express 3.0. The prototype previewed during AMD's presentation is an 8-core, 16-thread CPU, though it is unclear if this is the highest-end SKU which will be available at launch.

SEE: CES 2019 news, photos, videos, and more (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

Second-generation AMD EPYC CPUs were also discussed at CES. The second-generation Rome design was first publicly announced in November 2018, though the company notes that release is on track for mid-2019. AMD claims 4x floating-point performance and 2x performance per socket compared to current generation Intel Xeon 8180 CPUs. AMD EPYC CPUs are said to be available with up to 64 cores and 128 threads per socket.

Both the third-generation Ryzen and second-generation EPYC CPUs are built around AMD's Zen 2 microarchitecture. The new parts use existing AM4 and SP3 sockets, allowing for in-place upgrades on existing hardware without the need to buy new motherboards.

A live benchmark during the keynote from CineBench 15 between a sample third-generation Ryzen CPU and an Intel Core i9-9900K returned scores of 2057 and 2040, respectively, though the Ryzen system used 133W, while the Intel system used 180W. This is achieved primarily through the use of a 7nm manufacturing process, though AMD has also made other changes to power management compared to previous generations of the Zen microarchitecture.

Other changes present in the Zen 2 microarchitecture include improvements to the branch predictor and prefetcher, as well as increased cache size and bandwidth. Careful attention should be paid to how branch prediction and prefetching are performed following last year's revelations of the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. While AMD processors are slightly more resistant to transient execution attacks, silicon-level fixes necessarily have lower performance impacts than microcode-level fixes deployed for existing hardware in the wake of those disclosures. Likewise, applying higher level fixes for vulnerabilities already addressed at a silicon level would result in negative performance impacts.

SEE: CES 2019: The Big Trends for Business (ZDNet Special Feature)

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • AMD plans to ship the 7nm new processors in mid-2019, while Intel's 10nm processors are anticipated for late 2019.
  • The third-generation Ryzen and second-generation EPYC CPUs are built around AMD's Zen 2 microarchitecture, and can be upgraded in-place on compatible motherboards.

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AMD CEO Lisa Su holding a production sample of a Ryzen 3 CPU during a CES 2019 keynote.

Screenshot: James Sanders/TechRepublic