(Image credit: AMD)
EDIT: Our review of the Ryzen XT processors is now live here.
AMD fired back at Intel’s Comet Lake processors today with three new XT-series Ryzen 3000 processors that slot in as the new leading chips for the Ryzen 9, Ryzen 7, and Ryzen 5 families. The new processors bring AMD’s Radeon XT branding to its desktop processor line, but they are physically similar to their respective predecessors. That means they come with the same 7nm process and Zen 2 architecture, number of cores and threads, L3 cache capacity, and TDP ratings, but serve up an extra 100 to 200 MHZ over the standard boost frequency. Base frequencies remain unchanged. AMD says the incremental clock speed improvement provides up to four percent higher performance in single-threaded Cinebench benchmarks.
The new $499 Ryzen 9 3900XT, $399 Ryzen 7 3800XT, and $249 Ryzen 5 3600XT will land with the same suggested retailer pricing as the previous-gen Matisse models at launch, meaning, at least on the surface, that the XT models aren’t a price-reducing update to the Ryzen 3000 series, though caveats apply. The existing Ryzen 3000 series processors already retail far below recommended pricing, and it’s logical to expect AMD to reduce its official pricing on the older models.
In a shift from AMD’s standard practice, the Ryzen 9 3900XT and Ryzen 7 3800XT come without bundled coolers, while the Ryzen 5 3600XT comes with a bundled Wraith Spire cooler.
As we’ve long known, AMD’s suggested pricing is typically far from actual retail pricing, so we’ll have to see where the XT processors land when they reach general availability on July 7, 2020, or if AMD reduces prices on the existing models.
XT SeriesRCP (MSRP)Cores / ThreadsBase / Boost GHzTDPL3 CacheRyzen 9 3900XT$49912 / 243.8 / 4.7105W64MBRyzen 7 3800XT$3998 / 163.9 / 4.7105W32MBRyzen 5 3600XT$2496 / 123.8 / 4.595W32MB
AMD also announced that the new B550 chipset, which brings PCIe 4.0 connectivity to the mainstream, is available worldwide today. It will be joined by the A520 chipset that will debut with more than forty AM4 designs in August 2020. AMD hasn’t shared further details of the A520 chipset, but we’ll learn more as it works its way to market.
Finally, AMD touted new changes to its StoreMI technology, a technology that melds the speed of flash with the pricing and capacity of hard drives. The revamped approach transforms StoreMI from a tiering approach to caching, and brings along user interface improvements, too.
AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT, Ryzen 7 3700XT, and Ryzen 5 3600XT
The XT processors, which are a refresh of the Ryzen 3000 Matisse models, come with the same suggested online retailer pricing as the previous-gen models at launch, which works out to $499 for the 12-core 24-thread Ryzen 9 3900XT, $399 for the Ryzen 7 3800XT, and $249 for the Ryzen 5 3600XT.
The XT processors drop into any existing motherboard with a Ryzen 3000-ready BIOS, and offer drop-in compatibility with all 500-series motherboards.
MSRP / RetailCores / ThreadsBase / Boost GHzTDPL3 CachePCIeRyzen 9 3900XT$49912 / 243.8 / 4.7105W64MB16+4 Gen4Ryzen 9 3900X$499 / $43412 / 243.8 / 4.6105W64MB16+4 Gen4Core i9-10900K / KF$488 (K) / $472 (KF)10 / 203.7 / 5.3125W20MB16 Gen3Ryzen 7 3800XT$3398 / 163.9 / 4.7105W32MB16+4 Gen4Ryzen 7 3800X$399 / $3398 / 163.9 / 4.5105W32MB16+4 Gen4Core i7-10700K / KF$374 (K) / $349 (KF)8 / 163.8 / 5.1125W16MB16 Gen3Ryzen 5 3600XT$2496 / 123.8 / 4.595W32MB16+4 Gen4Ryzen 5 3600X$249 / $2056 / 123.8 / 4.495W32MB16+4 Gen4Core i5-10600K / KF$262 (K) / $237 (KF)6 / 124.1 / 4.8125W12MB16 Gen3
The XT series processors feature the same base frequencies as their predecessors, but you get an extra 100 MHz of boost frequency on the fastest core (AMD only guarantees boost frequencies on a single core) for the 3900XT and 3600XT, and 200 MHz for the 3800XT. The higher boost threshold might unlock slightly higher multi-core boosts, too. Given the current alignment of the product stack and our recent articles covering the Intel Core i9-10900K and the Core i5-10600K, it doesn’t look like the XT models will materially change AMD’s product positioning for its XT models, they’ll just slot in slightly above the existing Ryzen chips. However, if AMD chooses to reduce pricing on the existing Ryzen 9, 7, and 5 chips, it could change the landscape considerably.
Due to AMD’s adaptive Precision Boost 2 algorithms, much of the Ryzen 3000 series processors’ performance relies upon the capabilities of your motherboard and cooling, with the latter having a big impact on peak frequencies. AMD doesn’t include a stock cooler with the Ryzen 9 3900XT and Ryzen 7 3800XT, instead recommending a minimum of a 280mm AIO watercooler (or equivalent air cooling) to unlock the best performance. That adds to the overall cost of the chips and forgoes AMD’s standard practice of providing a cooler with all models except the halo 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X, which curiously did not receive the XT treatment. The Ryzen 5 3600XT comes with a Wraith Spire cooler.
AMD’s previous-gen chips rarely, if ever, sell at their recommended price points, so it’s logical to assume that the company will reduce the official recommended customer pricing (RCP) of its existing parts. The Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 7 3800X can often be found at retail for ~$60 lower than RCP, while the Ryzen 5 3600X often retails ~$50 below AMD’s recommendations. The company has long maintained that these lower prices aren’t the result of official price cuts, instead being at the discretion of retailers, so any reduction in the RCP could equate to even lower prices at retail. That’s not to mention that we could see the XT models quickly fall below RCP, too. Overall, we expect retail Ryzen 3000 series pricing to be a moving target for quite some time as the marketplace adjusts to supply and demand dynamics.
We do know from listings at motherboard vendors that these chips should come with the same B0 die stepping as their predecessors, meaning these are higher-binned versions of the corresponding Ryzen 3000 Matisse chips. Reports have also emerged that the processors feature a higher Fabric Clock (FCLK). Ryzen 3000-series debuted with a maximum FCLK of 1,800 MHz, where the FCLK runs in-sync with the memory clock in a 1:1 ratio. The XT versions are rumored to do 2,000 MHz out of the box, which could impart some additional performance improvements.
As before, the XT models don’t come with integrated graphics, which is a disadvantage in the broader OEM market against Intel’s processors. AMD has its Renoir desktop APUs in the works for later this year, and they purportedly raise the bar to eight cores and sixteen threads for AMD’s APUs.
AMD StoreMi Version 2.0
AMD also announced a few details outlining changes to its StoreMi technology, which isn’t surprising given that the company announced earlier this year that it had ended support for the original version.
StoreMI is a storage acceleration technology that combines an SSD and HDD into one volume, with the most frequently accessed files being stored on the faster SSD. This approach blends the speed of flash with the capacity and pricing of an HDD, but the original StoreMI operated in a tiering implementation that expanded the capacity of the hard drive. For instance, if you combined a 1TB SSD and a 1TB HDD, you would have 2TB of addressable storage.
AMD announced that the new StoreMI version 2.0 uses a caching implementation, so combining the 1TB SSD and 1TB should only yield 1TB of addressable storage. That’s because the tiering implementation stores the most frequently-accessed data on the SSD only, while caching implementations store a copy of the data on both the SSD and the HDD. In effect, caching techniques offer a safer path to storage acceleration but come at the cost of usable capacity. AMD says the new approach speeds up boot times by 31% and decreases game load times by 13% compared to an HDD, but didn’t provide comparisons to the previous StoreMI version. AMD also touted improvements to the StoreMI user interface.
Many have opined that the XT ‘Matisse Refresh’ models imply that AMD’s Zen 3 chips have been delayed, but refresh generations aren’t a new development from either chipmaker, and AMD has stated that it continues to be on track with delivering Zen 3 processors . A refresh generation appears to slot into that timeline, debuting exactly one year after the debut of Ryzen 3000 on 7/7.
AMD’s Ryzen 2000-series refresh chips came as an iterative update over the Ryzen 1000 processors, but they featured an optimized 12nm LPP process that was more efficient than the 14nm process on Ryzen 1000. AMD also revamped the Zen architecture to a Zen+ design, which brought higher multi- and single-core frequencies along with faster memory/caches, resulting in a 3% increase in IPC. The Ryzen 2000 frequency improvements equated to a 200 MHz increase in base clock speeds in some cases, along with a few interspersed improvements to boost frequencies, making for a solid iterative update to the Ryzen 1000 series.
We don’t see any signs of process improvements or architecture tweaks for the XT processors in AMD’s announcement today, though there is a chance the company could share more details as the chips move closer to launch. With that perspective, the 100 to 200 MHz of additional boost frequency that AMD added to its XT series seems underwhelming, given the launch pricing. We aren’t sure if multi-core boosts will be improved, and it doesn’t appear that, aside from the possibility of an increased fabric clock, there are improvements to memory speeds or IPC. Instead, the improved boost frequencies might only equate to a few percentage points of improvement in lightly-threaded applications, so Intel’s Comet Lake-S processors might continue to hold the crown as the fastest gaming processors. As always, reviews will tell the tale.
The lack of bundled coolers with two of the XT chips also serves as a price hike over the existing models, but you’ll need the additional thermal overhead to hit the higher boost clocks. We can expect the ‘standard’ Ryzen 3000 series models to get a substantial price cut as a result of XT’s arrival, which will help AMD’s competitive footing against Intel’s capable Comet Lake-S processors.
Until then, we have the desktop Renoir APUs and the Ryzen 3000 XT series launch date of July 7, 2020 (and the accompanying reviews) to look forward to.