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Musing #26: Ryzen to the challenge

I have never owned an AMD device till date, being entrenched in the Intel and Nvidia camp as it were. However, I can’t help but root for AMD’s Ryzen this time around. It may just be a case of supporting the underdog but no one loves an underdog that doesn’t put up a fight. Hence, it was surprisingly pleasant to see AMD Ryzen (!) from the ashes.

As always, Anandtech has put up the most comprehensive review and is worth a read if you can take in the details. Ars Technica has a more mainstream and comprehensible review. However, whichever review you read, one thing is certain – AMD is back in the CPU game. The Ryzen 7 seems to lag behind Kaby Lake in IPC performance and hence it can’t be good from the gaming perspective, especially for those holding off for Canonlake. However, it holds its own and even beats Intel in the multi-core, multi-thread game which contributes immensely to content creation rather than consumption. It is admirable to see a less resourced team come up with such an impressive architecture, considering the debacle that was Bulldozer. A newer micro-architecture also means that a lot of performance is to be unearthed through optimization and that bodes well for future iterations.

While absolute performance is lacking, at present, AMD’s value proposition is performance per buck. There is nothing to say that Intel wouldn’t cut prices to compete but it might be more prudent to see the impact that AMD has on the market. As it stands, Ryzen 7 is focussed on the high performance desktop market at the present which can’t be termed vibrant by any metric, when compared to the mobile counterpart. The gaming sub-section of this segment too might not be inclined to take the plunge in favour of AMD just yet. Hence, it will most probably be a waiting game for now.

I remember my first processor being the PIII-450 and was horrified at the pace of development that followed, envious of the fact that AMD broke through the 1 GHz barrier first with Athlon, within a year of my purchase. Intel’s juggernaut meant AMD was relegated to the back stage as we moved further in to the new millennium, with even its legacy being not as prevalent as the moniker AMD64 failed to attain the ubiquity that it should have. It is unlikely that we shall ever see a processor war of such proportions ever again, but somewhere even Intel engineers might be rubbing their hands in glee rather than twiddling their thumbs, thanks to Ryzen.

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