AMD has already made a big splash at this year’s CES, with heaps of new product announcements, impending launches, and teases of what we can expect later in the year.
If you missed the big keynote address or just want a quick recap of everything AMD announced at CES 2020, here’s our roundup of all the things that got us excited about team red in 2020.
Ryzen 4000 mobile CPUs
Just as AMD’s Ryzen 3000 Zen 2 desktop CPUs pulled the rug out from under Intel’s dominance in gaming, Zen 2 on mobile with new Ryzen 4000 CPUs are expected to do the same to laptops. With up to eight cores, massive improvements in instructions per clock, better efficiency, and slight clock speed bumps, they hold heaps of potential — especially when paired up with new AMD midrange mobile GPUs.
Even by themselves with their onboard graphics, these should be some amazingly capable processors. Competition is stiff, with Intel’s major CPU innovations focusing in on mobile, where its 10nm volume can keep up with demand, but Ryzen 4000 laptops could well compete with new Ice Lake and Comet Lake 10th-generation chips.
During its press conference at CES, AMD suggested that its Ryzen 4000 CPUs were faster than Intel’s Ice Lake in single-threaded tasks, and far more capable in multithreaded tasks. Arguably just as impressive is a claim of a big gap in graphical performance. Considering that 11th-generation graphics on Ice Lake were supposed to be that chip line’s major strength, that could prove a key selling point for Ryzen 4000 laptops.
With big inter-generational improvements to both single-threaded and multithreaded performance, these chips could be absolute powerhouses for new gaming laptops and workstation ultrabooks.
We’ll need to wait a few months for devices from the major manufacturers to proliferate through the market, but AMD promised 12 new devices in the first quarter of 2020, and up to 100 Ryzen 4000-powered laptops before the end of the year.
If 2019 was the year AMD started to claw back serious desktop market share, 2020 could be the year it does so on mobile.
More RX 5000 graphics cards
AMD is set to flesh out its existing lineup of Navi graphics cards in 2020, starting with the RX 5600 XT. A perfect midpoint between its RX 5500 XT and 5700, the RX 5600 XT is said to perform between 10 and 20 percent faster than an Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti. That puts it within striking distance of the RTX 2060, and AMD’s last-generation Vega 56. For $289, a price that’s around the same price as the 1660 Ti, this could be a very attractive buy for anyone wanting to game at 1080p and 1440p.
The first RX 5600 XT graphics cards will go on sale on January 21.
There was some hope that AMD would talk about its long-rumored “Nvidia Killer” — the “Big Navi” graphics card — and when CEO Lisa Su mentioned AMD wanting to be “the best” in every category, there was some excitement in the air. But it wasn’t to be. If AMD plans to discuss a GPU outside of the midrange at CES, it hasn’t done it yet.
SmartShift means faster gaming for free
One nice addition to AMD’s software suite that was briefly mentioned during the press conference was a technology called SmartShift. Only set to be available in AMD Ryzen-powered laptops with AMD Radeon graphics chips, SmartShift dynamically moves power between the CPU and GPU as required, based on demand.
This leads to acceleration in CPU- and GPU-bound tasks, finding a happy medium in applications that require both, like gaming.
Although AMD claims SmartShift is still in the early testing phases, it’s seen results of up to 10 percent extra performance in some games. This could be a feature that separates all-AMD laptops from those that mix and match Intel, AMD, and Nvidia components.
Threadripper 3990X pushes the core envelope
Zen 2 Threadripper CPUs have enjoyed all the same single-threaded and multithreaded performance enhancements of mainstream Ryzen 3000 CPUs, but they also promised more cores and threads. Following the release of the 24-core and 32-core, respectively, Threadripper 3960X and 3970X CPUs in 2019, AMD has now unveiled the Threadripper 3990X. This monster CPU sports 64 cores, 128 threads, and a total of 288MB of cache. It has a base clock speed of 2.9GHz, and a boost clock that reaches as high as 4.3GHz.
We’ll need to wait for third-party benchmarks to know for sure, but in AMD’s own testing, the 3990X absolutely demolished Intel’s best, and even competed favorably with multi-chip server configurations, which are thousands of dollars more expensive.
The 3990X isn’t cheap, at $3,990, which is a lot more expensive than Intel’s top HEDT chip, the 18-core 10980XE. But in early testing, there doesn’t appear to be any comparison there. The 3990X is in a class of its own.
If the 16-core 3950X gave Intel nightmares, this 64-core Threadripper 3990X may lead to an absolute drubbing.
Follow our live blog for more CES news and announcements.
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