AMD’s ‘Ryzen’ chips integrate neural nets for killer performance

At AMD’s New Horizon event we caught a sneak peek at the upcoming Zen CPU, and we found out its new name: Ryzen. During the event AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su proudly announced the new branding, as well as some of the upcoming chip’s impressive specs.

Built “from a blank sheet of paper,” according to AMD CEO Dr. Su, to deliver unprecedented performance at impossibly low wattage, Ryzen has some impressive stats and brand new features which set it apart from the competition.

The new chip meets, and beat AMD’s own internal goals, delivering more than a 40 percent improvement in instructions-per-clock when compared to previous AMD hardware. Put another way, this means each Ryzen core delivers better performance at any given clock speed.

Speaking of cores, Ryzen was show with eight, each with two threads, for a total of sixteen threads. There’s a massive L2+L3 cache of 20MB, and AMD quoted a base clock of 3.4GHz.

We still don’t know what the Ryzen’s boost speeds might be, but at this point, even without the performance gains a turbo-boost setting would allow, AMD says Ryzen is an even match for Intel’s top-end Core i7-6900K.

In a pair of dramatic head-to-head benchmarks, the Ryzen matched the i7-6900K’s performance in a Blender benchmark, and edged out the Intel CPU in the Handbrake benchmark, by five seconds.

The most impressive part? Ryzen is said to accomplish this at a lower wattage than the Intel chip. Ryzen has a thermal design power of 95 watts, while the Core i7-6900K it was compared to has a TDP of 140 watts.

The features set it apart

There’s more to Ryzen than just core counts and speeds. AMD says it has features that will make the chip one of the most intelligent CPUs on the market. Ryzen is equipped with advanced machine intelligence capabilities, which allow it to learn how your applications behave, and anticipate what data a particular application will need based on prior experience.

These intelligent capabilities are what AMD is calling the Ryzen’s “SenseMI” technology, which pairs Neural Net Prediction with Smart Prefetch. The Neural Net feature attempts to predict how programs will be processed based on past runs, to optimize for the software on-the-fly. Smart Prefetch, meanwhile, lets the chip seek out information it believes it will need, so it’s readily available when called for.

Each Ryzen chip will adjust its maximum boost clock based on available thermal overhead, which is tracked by “more than 100” embedded sensors that gauge power draw and operating temperatures. AMD calls this Pure Power.

From there, if you have what CEO Dr. Su calls “premium cooling,” Ryzen will unlock higher clock speeds that it has determined to be safe based on its environment. Whether that’s a simple fan or a liquid nitrogen evaporating setup, the chip will continually work as hard as it can, without you lifting a finger. AMD calls this Extended Frequency Range, or XFR for short.

That works hand-and-hand with Precision Boost, which is similar to the Turbo Boost feature found on Intel CPUs, or the boost clock on a GPU. It dynamically changes the maximum speed in 25MHz increments, so you never have to worry about setting an overclock or maximum clockspeed.

Combined, AMD believes these optimizations will help its Ryzen hardware make the most of what’s available, drastically increasing performance-per-watt.

New processors also mean new chipsets, and Ryzen is no exception. The top-end AM4 chipset, known as X370, adds support for DDR4 memory at up 2,400MHz, PCIe Gen 3, USB 3.1 at 10Gbps, and of course support for NVMe and SATA Express drives.

The actual list of SKUs is still a bit of a mystery heading into the event, although there is some speculation. Pricing also remains unannounced.

However, AMD did confirm it’s on track for release in the first quarter of 2017. That means we should see the processors in stores before spring. Hold on, AMD fans — your long awaited CPU upgrade is almost here.


We tested Nvidia’s RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti. Are they a worthy upgrade?

We finally have Nvidia's newest graphics cards, the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti, and put them through our standard suite of benchmarks and game tests to see how they performed in a standard play of Battlefield 1 and Fornite. How do they compare to…

Upcoming Galaxy S10 may support 8K video and have Neural Processing Unit

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.

AMD Navi: Everything you need to know

With a reported launch in 2019, AMD is focusing on the mid-range market with its next-generation Navi GPU. Billed as a successor to Polaris, Navi promises to deliver better performance to consoles, like Sony's PlayStation 5.

AMD is pulling ahead in the die shrink race with 7nm CPUs and graphics cards

AMD might have played second fiddle to Intel and AMD for a long time, but it has the potential to leapfrog both when it debuts its new 7nm CPUs and graphics cards in 2019, leading the die-shrink race for the first time in years.

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will update your OG Windows skills

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience.

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.

iPhone users are finding themselves randomly locked out of their Apple ID

According to posts on Reddit and Twitter, it looks like users on Reddit and Twitter having some issues with their Apple accounts. Specifically, it seems as though users are getting randomly locked out of their Apple IDs.

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.

Here’s how to install Windows on a Chromebook

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…

Edit portraits with A.I. and adjust focus in the new ON1 Photo RAW 2019 editor

ON1 Photo RAW 2019 now has a dedicated tab for portraits that automatically recognizes faces to help with retouching. The update also brings a new focus stacking tool, enhancements to layers, and improvements to local adjustments.

Your MacBook can live in the lap of luxury with this leather case

Though there are several cases which we think are best for covering up MacBooks, Twelve South's Journal case is one of the newest available, providing luxurious leather coverage for your Apple laptop.

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.

15-inch MacBook Pro gets more powerful with new AMD Vega GPUs

Confirming Apple's quiet October announcement, new configurations for the top-range 15-inch Apple MacBook laptop are now available, coming complete with AMD Pro Vega 16 or Pro Vega 20 graphics cards on board.
Emerging Tech

Intel’s new ‘neural network on a stick’ aims to unchain A.I. from the internet

To kick off its first developer conference in Beijing, Intel unveiled the second generation of its Neural Compute Stick -- a device that promises to democratize the development of computer vision A.I. applications.