AMD Ryzen 2: What to Expect, What to Hope for, and What to Dismiss
New iterations of AMD’s Ryzen architecture are on the horizon and as always, rumors will be circulating heavily until the day of the release. A big one (I’m glad I happened to miss) was that a magical 12 core, 5.1 GHz chip was slated to release at $329. Even if you wanted to believe in a 12 core 5.1 GHz Ryzen 7, the $329 price is a clear indication of a fake leak based on the performance lead a chip like that would have. We may not have clear specs or performance, but I think there’s some pretty safe predictions that can be made based on previous experience.
Ryzen 2 vs. Zen+
The first thing we need to address is determining what the naming schemes are referring to. A lot of sites are calling it Ryzen 2, but I can’t verify that AMD has an official slide using that nomenclature. Also, Ryzen 3 is already taken so…. The official term for the refresh is “Zen+”, which means AMD may opt for a term like Ryzen+ to describe the refresh in April. Zen 2 is slated to release in 2019 and that will be a legitimate, 2nd generation design on the 7nm manufacturing process. For our purposes here, I’ll maintain the Zen+ title for the upcoming release and Zen 2 for the 2019 one.
We can expect the Zen+ specs to be almost identical to the original Zen counterparts. Core counts, Cache Sizes, and even socket compatibly will all be the same. There really isn’t any hope for additional cores or cache, which means you can probably dismiss any rumors that say otherwise. What we can expect to change is frequencies. WCCF did post a leak that showed a Ryzen 5 2600 sporting about 200 MHz more clock speed than it’s predecessor. That gives us a solid expectation, but I think it’s reasonable to hope for even 300 or 400 MHz boosts. If rumors start flying around with speeds that exceed 4500 MHz though, I’d consider that a rumor worth dismissing. Another change that’s coming is the new manufacturing process of 12nm for Zen+. Since AMD already mentioned this at CES, there’s no need to even hope for anything else, which means rumors to the contrary should pretty much be dismissed.
I think it’s fair to expect at least a 10% performance increase. If it’s any less than that, it would seem like a waste of time, even for a refresh, to me. If you’re hoping for a bit more performance though, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to look for 15%, but don’t stretch that past 20%. Overall, including the boosts to clock speeds, I think 15% isn’t too far out there since I imagine a little optimization will go into the architecture for Zen+. I can’t remember where I read this, but Zen was called the “worst case scenario” release for Ryzen, so I’m sure there was room for some improvements, even in a refresh. If someone claims Zen+ has massive 25%+ performance increases, I’d say to dismiss that and be pleasantly surprised if it was right.
I think we should expect Zen+ to overclock in the same degree that Zen did. In other words, users who enjoy it can take advantage of boost frequencies 24/7 on all cores, but we shouldn’t expect to be able to overclock much past the rated boost frequency. On the other hand, I think it will be reasonable to hope for overclocks 100-200 MHz over the boost frequency. Zen+ is on a new manufacturing tech and I hope the architecture has been optimized some.
Expect the TDP ratings to be the same, or even bumped up a tad depending on how aggressive the clock speeds end up being. It’s alright to hope for some tiny dips in TDP by 5W or so, if power saving is really important to you. Just dismiss any rumors that a Ryzen 7 2800X magically has a 65W TDP.
I expect Zen+ to release at the same prices as Zen originally did. In fact, the official price cuts AMD announced at CES is a strong indication that will be the case. I think we can hope that the Ryzen 7 2800X and 2700X (or equivalent) are the two chips that release at lower prices, with a less probability for the latter. Anybody who claims the 2800X will release at a price that’s lower than the current $349 of the 1800X should be thoroughly dismissed.
Finally, let’s hit on a few things we can expect from the X470 chipset. The biggest thing we can expect is much higher quality boards this time around. Gigabyte already showed off a Gaming 7 version of their Aorus lineup at CES, which they didn’t do for X370 (Gaming K7 is more of a Gaming 5 equivalent). We can certainly hope for some much higher grade boards from certain companies, MSI and Asrock come to mind, but I wouldn’t expect Asus to put Zen+ on quite the same level as some of their best Intel boards. Expect better memory support and memory overclocking, but let’s probably dismiss rumors that indicate AMD completely catches up to Intel just yet. Better CPU overclocking is best left in the hope department. It’s a strong possibility, but the biggest limitation to pushing clock speeds seems to be with the architecture of the CPU, not the motherboards. I think it’s safest to say that we should dismiss any rumors that say the X470 boards allow users to overclock the original Zen chips better than before. I’m mostly convinced that the limitations are with Zen itself, which means improvements to overclocking will mostly come from how well Zen+ can handle it.
Prior did mention a change in the X470 chipset, but your guess is as good as mine on what that could mean. I can officially squelch the thought of full 16×16 CFX of SLI support on the chipset. You can tell by the rear image of the X470 board since the solder points only go halfway on the second slot. I’ll let you finish speculating about what you think that means in the forums, but remember that the best news is that AMD is bringing cross compatibility for both the boards and the CPUs. For now, I hope the information is helpful for anyone looking forward to Zen+. Keep posted on the site for more news and reviews and we’ll see how close this release comes to our predictions.