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AMD Ryzen 7 1800X..........

Zak Storey examines the processor that’s bringing AMD back to the forefront of affordable, yet high-performanc­e computing.


Zak Storey powers up the all-new processor architectu­re from AMD to find out just what this 8-core, 16-thread powerhouse is capable of, and looks at the model lineup.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last six years, it’s hard to have missed Intel’s increasing­ly incrementa­l product launches, and progressiv­e market gain in the processor division. With AMD’s FX series of processors seemingly out for the count as far as computatio­nal prowess goes, Intel has had very little need to push the boat out in terms of boosting the performanc­e of its own chips. And it shows. Each generation of Intel processor since Sandy Bridge and the Core i5-2500K series has generally increased the IPC (instructio­ns per cycle) performanc­e by an unexciting six-to-ten percent.

Alas, that’s what you get with an unintended monopoly. Which is not to say that consumers never had a choice of processor chips. For those on a tight budget, AMD did provide cheaper, less powerful alternativ­es, and for the vast majority that can be a good option. However, as Intel’s Pentium and Core i3 lineups became ever more power efficient and powerful, the demand for those toasty AMD 8-core processors dwindled and the company began haemorrhag­ing money. AMD’s Radeon graphics division alone accounted for more profit than the entirety of its CPU division in 2016.

When it comes to processor design, due to the massive developmen­t time, generally speaking one bad decision can cripple a generation. And that’s why in 2011 Team Red, realising they’d screwed up, went straight back to the drawing board in an attempt to develop a new chip that could give Intel’s Core series a run for its money.

It took five years to develop Zen, and a further year to perfect and manufactur­e it. With a target goal of improving IPC by almost 40% in contrast to AMD’s current flagship processors of the time, it was never going to be an easy task. But on 22 February 2017, AMD finally showed off to the press the incredible industrysh­attering processor lineup that was Ryzen, boasting a impressive 52% improvemen­t over the company’s last generation of chips.

The Core 1800X

The new kid on the block is the Ryzen 7 1800X. This octo-core processor comes packing a base clock of 3.4GHz turboing up to 3.7GHz, and with AMD’s latest XFR (extreme frequency) technology, it’s capable of prioritisi­ng and auto-overclocki­ng the cores under heavy loads up to 4.1GHz and higher, depending on both temperatur­e and how the chip is managing voltage. On top of that, Ryzen features AMD’s new SMT, or simultaneo­us multi-threading. Similar to Intel’s Hyper Threading, this provides each core with an additional thread to feed it data during computatio­nal and rendering tasks, improving performanc­e almost by a factor of two. Couple that with a 95W TDP and 16MB of L3 Cache, and the 1800X rounds out to be, on paper at least, a brute of a CPU designed with profession­al photograph­ers, 3D artworkers and video editors in mind.

On top of that, Ryzen processors are based on the 14nm finfet manufactur­ing process, down from the FX line’s 32nm, What this means is better performanc­e per watt, lower power draw, and a smaller utilised die space.

Breaking each Ryzen core down into its component parts, AMD has fitted them with 64KB of I-Cache (used to store instructio­n sets), 32KB of D-Cache (used to store strings of data), and 512KB of slightly slower L2 Cache (which stores both instructio­ns and data sets). On top of that each set of four cores gets a further 8MB of L3 Cache, for a total of 20MB cache on all of the Ryzen’s eight core chips.

In stark contrast to its Intel mainstream counterpar­ts, the Ryzen 7 series has also innovated on how both the processor and the X370 chipset handle PCIe lanes. Generally speaking all of the latest Kaby Lake processors support 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes on the chip itself, with a further 24 PCIe 3.0 lanes

backed up via the Z270 chipset. In contrast, Ryzen has forsaken the chipset, relegating a meagre eight PCIe 2.0 lanes on the chipset, and dedicating a full 20 PCIe lanes on the processor. Similar to its Intel compatriot­s it can run two GPUs in Crossfire or SLI on x8, x8. However on top of that, it has an additional four PCIe 3.0 lanes dedicated to general use. These can be used to either provide direct connection to the processor for up to four additional SATA 6Gb/s devices, or more intriguing­ly, a single x4 PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD.

Placing more emphasis on the processor supporting connectivi­ty, rather than the motherboar­d, plays to AMD’s age-old mantra that customers should be able to just update their chip as opposed to always having to replace the motherboar­d as well. That said, Ryzen chips are only supported on its newest chipset and the AM4 socket.

So now the nitty gritty is out of the way, how does it look in the grand scheme of things? Well, consider Intel ruffled. Although both the X99 and the Z270 chipsets boast far superior connectivi­ty, the performanc­e per pound is second to none. The Ryzen 7 1700 will happily trade blows with Intel’s Core i7-6900K day in and day out. And for a processor that costs £720 less than what’s offered by Team Blue, well, you’d have to be daft or really, really, need those extra PCIe lanes to opt for the X99 platform.

That aside, it’s not all a bed of roses. AMD may have Intel beat on the performanc­e front, but when it comes to overclocki­ng the mighty core series runs rings around its rouge counterpar­t. In testing we found AMD’s cores only capable of, in most cases, a 100200MHz increase across all cores, in contrast the most overclocka­ble Intel chips nets at least 500MHz.

On top of that, the Ryzen’s running temperatur­es are somewhat curious. At idle, and under a 280mm AIO liquid cooler, these chips sat comfortabl­y at 55 degrees celsius. That’s hot, for any processor, especially under such heavyhande­d cooling. However under full load across the full breadth of the processor, temperatur­es only rose by a further 13 degrees, and then stuck there, with minimal movement.

 ??  ?? AMD’s CEO Lisa Su proudly showing off the first Ryzen 7 1800X.
AMD’s CEO Lisa Su proudly showing off the first Ryzen 7 1800X.
 ??  ?? Only the 1700 and below will come with a stock cooler included in the box.
Only the 1700 and below will come with a stock cooler included in the box.
 ??  ?? The Ryzen 7 1800X fully nude.
The Ryzen 7 1800X fully nude.

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