AMD's Ryzen 5 threatens Intel's grip on the mainstream PC market

AMD takes aim at the highly lucrative mainstream PC market with its new Ryzen 5 chips.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

The high-end processor market may be where all the bragging rights lie, but it's the mainstream market where the volume is, and AMD is taking aim at that segment with its new Ryzen 5 processors.

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Ryzen 5 is AMD's new line of mainstream processors, joining the already released high-end Ryzen 7 chips, and the budget Ryzen 3 chips which are planned for the second half of the year.

Ryzen 5 is a much bigger deal than Ryzen 7 because the mainstream processor sub-$300 market is about twice as big as the high-end market processor market. And AMD's re-entry into this mainstream market presents a real threat to Intel's dominance over the PC industry.

AMD is unveiling four Ryzen 5 chips, ranging from the $249 6-core/12-thread Ryzen 5 1600X down to the $169 4-core/8-thread Ryzen 5 1400:

Model Cores/Threads Speed (GHz) Cooler Price ($)
Ryzen 5 1600X 6/12 3.6/4.0 - 249
Ryzen 5 1600 6/12 3.2/3.6 Wraith Spire 219
Ryzen 5 1500 4/8 3.5/3.7 Wraith Spire 189
Ryzen 5 1400 4/8 3.2/3.4 Wraith Stealth 169

All Ryzen chips are supplied with an unlocked multiplier, allowing them to be overclocked (although if you fry one doing this, AMD won't warranty the chip).

At the core (pardon the pun) of AMD's Ryzen silicon is AMD's SenseMI technology, a set of sensing, adapting, and learning technologies built into Ryzen chips. This allows a 40+ percent increase in instructions per clock.

SenseMI is comprised of five components:

  • Pure Power: more than 100 embedded sensors with accuracy to the millivolt, milliwatt, and single degree level of temperature enable optimal voltage, clock frequency, and operating mode with minimal energy consumption;
  • Precision Boost: smart logic that monitors integrated sensors and optimizes clock speeds, in increments as small as 25MHz, at up to a thousand times a second;
  • Extended Frequency Range (XFR): when the system senses added cooling capability, XFR raises the Precision Boost frequency to enhance performance;
  • Neural Net Prediction: an artificial intelligence neural network that learns to predict what future pathway an application will take based on past runs;
  • Smart Prefetch: sophisticated learning algorithms that track software behavior to anticipate the needs of an application and prepare the data in advance.

Ryzen chips that have the X moniker (the 1800X and 1700X from the Ryzen 7 range, and the 1600X from the Ryzen 5 range) not only have a higher base and boost clock speeds, but also double the XFR boost overhead.

According to AMD benchmarks, the Ryzen 5 1600X is up to 69 percent faster than Intel's quad-core Kaby Lake Core i5-7600K, both chips priced at $249.

AMD's Ryzen 5 threatens Intel's grip on the mainstream PC market

Ryzen 5 chips and systems will be available from April 11.

See also:

Intel slows the rate of major chip upgrades as Moore's law falters:

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