You may not have noticed that there is a brand new computer chip on the market right now. AMD (Intel’s only rival) have had their new chip called Ryzen on the market since the 2nd of March and the reviews have been all over the place.
It seems that Ryzen has disrupted the market so much that it has made a lot of people confused on how to justify Intel’s prices. During the unveiling of Ryzen it was placed against one of Intel’s biggest baddest chips called the i7 6900K. This chip as of 08/03/2017 is £1078.98 inc VAT (ebuyer.com). It is a chip aimed at industry professionals that need serious computing power. AMD’s top Ryzen chip – the R7 1800X – as of the above date costs only £489.96 inc VAT (ebuyer.com) and has proved to be faster than Intel’s i7 6900K. That’s half the price for a faster chip.
Both of these chips are of similar specification with the Ryzen chip using noticeably less power. They both harbour 8 physical cores that can handle 16 threads of requests. To understand the difference between how cores and threads work, see the example picture below.
The picture above is a basic example of how cores and threads work. Two calculation requests are made to one core at the same time meaning that requests are evenly calculated. Looking at core number 4 we can see that request 1 is a large request but request 2 is a smaller request. What happens here is the core will calculate the request evenly between the threads. This increases the response time when starting a new request during the current processing of a previous request. Performance benchmarks have shown that AMD’s new Ryzen chips are doing this faster than Intel’s extreme i7 range.
However, there are mixed performance benchmarks with applications that only use one core and one thread, commonly known as single core performance. The results in the application Cinebench (used to benchmark a chip’s performance), show that the single core performance is the same between AMD’s R7 1800X and Intel’s i7 6900K. However, other applications – mainly games – have shown that the AMD chip is slightly behind in single core performance.
There are many reviews that seem to back this up but what we need to remember is that Ryzen is a brand new chip architecture in its first generation. The Intel chip that Ryzen has been placed against is in its sixth generation. The “6” on the model number i7 6900K indicates the chip’s generation meaning that they have released – and had the chance to improve – five i7 models. For AMD to release a brand new architecture that is faster than six generations of Intel improvements is rather impressive. It is particularly impressive when you consider that Ryzen still has room for software improvements. I would even go as far to say that we may see it overtake Intel’s current lineup completely when applications start to optimise for the new Ryzen architecture.