AMD, since its founding, has never really competed with Intel in the processor market. Offering military-grade clones of the x86 architecture, it had a fair share of consumers until the Pentium series saw the light of the day, requiring full engineering capability to deliver a decent response. And indeed, the chips of the new, proprietary K5 architecture turned out to be very productive in office applications, but not in multimedia applications that were gaining popularity at that time. The purchase of fading competitors allowed the release of various generations of K6 processors, which, unfortunately, still could not prove themselves in floating point operations. And it would seem that AMD will forever remain catching up, but a miracle happened — a team led by Jim Keller, one of the developers of DEC Alpha server processors, introduced the K7 architecture, which forever changed the course of history.
In the early 2000s, AMD broke into the workstation and gaming PC market with Athlon and Duron processors, and K8 architecture chips further strengthened its position, including the server segment, where Intel had long reigned. Later Phenom solutions based on K10 lost ground a little, and it became more and more difficult for them to compete with the latest products of the Core series. Fans of the «white-greens» expected the second coming in the face of Bulldozer, which was supposed to bring with it SMT technology, similar to Intel Hyper-Threading, but more «iron». And, as always, the scourge of AMD processors, namely the lack of software support, played a cruel joke on them — that time a miracle did not happen, although the architecture of the new products was promising. Now all the attention of the public is riveted on Zen solutions, but whether they can justify the hopes, we just have to find out.
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X
We already briefly talked about the Zen architecture in our previous material, so this time we will focus on the processor itself. For testing, we got the oldest model — Ryzen 7 1800X in the box.
The processor comes in original packaging, with the appearance of which the designers did a great job. In general, with the release of Ryzen, the degree of pathos of new products simply rolls over — from the box to the software, you can feel the seriousness of the approach to releasing Zen solutions.
Complete with the CPU, the user will find a sticker with the Ryzen logo on the system unit and installation instructions.
The lack of a cooling system should not surprise you — the Ryzen 7 1800X / 1700X processors are still available without it. In the future, “packs” with a powerful proprietary Wraith Max cooler are possible, but a simple Ryzen 7 1700 can already be purchased with Wraith Spire. Both of these models have RGB lighting, which modders will especially like. The regular Wraith Stealth is apparently destined to cool the low-end Ryzen models, which should appear sometime in the second quarter of this year. There is also information that Wraith Max and Wraith Stealth will only be available to system builders.
Externally, the body of the new products has not changed at all since the release of K8 — the same large heat-distributing cover completely covers the processor substrate, but unlike the old solutions, the name of the series is now engraved in large letters and it is unlikely that you will be able to confuse the new products with the same Bulldozer and derivatives.
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X (left) and FX-6100
But the “belly” has changed and now it resembles an APU, only the number of contacts has been increased to 1331 (940 for AM3+ and 906 for FM2+). The legs have become thinner, so when handling the processor, you must be even more careful than before.
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X (left) and FX-6100
In addition to the connector, the cooler mount has also undergone changes, or rather, the near-socket «frame» — it has become simpler and wider. The latter is due to the more complicated layout of the boards and the need to increase the mechanical strength for this.
True, ASUS has released «motherboards» with universal holes that allow you to use the old mounts for Socket AM3 (+) / FM2 (+), which will facilitate the transition to a new platform in the presence of previously purchased cooling systems.
In our case, we took advantage of this unique feature without any problems and installed a maintenance-free LSS for the old connectors.
The Ryzen 7 1800X processor has eight physical cores and supports SMT technology, only unlike its predecessors on the Bulldozer core, AMD has returned to the classic scheme again and now each core has its own FPU.
Also, the size of the third-level cache has now been increased to 16 MB, but with one caveat — it has 16-channel associativity and is represented by blocks of 8 MB.
The fact is that the Ryzen 7 processor in a monolithic crystal consists of two modules, each with four cores with its own L3 cache, which communicate with each other using the high-speed Infinity Fabric interface. Naturally, such a construction will affect the access time to data located in the neighbor’s memory cells.
In addition, the new product supports SSE4.1, SSE4.2, SSE4A, AVX, AVX2.0, FMA3 instructions, as well as AES encryption acceleration, and is designed for a frequency of 3.6 GHz, but in most cases it works at 3.7 GHz. During idle, the frequency drops to 2.2 GHz, while the supply voltage “walks” over a wide range, from an incredible 0.350 V to 1.4 V and even more under load. This is due to the peculiarities of the power supply of the cores and individual processor units.
When performing single-threaded tasks due to the Turbo mode, it is possible to increase the frequency of one or two cores up to 4 GHz, but when using boards based on the X370 chipset, another mode is activated — XFR, which adds 100 MHz.
We ended up running our Ryzen 7 1800X at 4.1GHz at times.
Memory support has also changed compared to its predecessors — processors based on the Zen architecture can only function with DDR4. The official frequencies are 2666 MHz for two single-sided modules and 2400 MHz for double-sided ones. If all four slots on the motherboard are filled, then the memory operating modes will become 2133 and 1866 MHz, respectively. The built-in controller operates at the physical frequency of the modules, and the higher it is, the faster the system should be.
Fortunately, the declared support does not always coincide with reality, and our system worked without problems with the G.Skill F4-3200C15D-16GTZKO kit at a frequency of 3200 MHz and timings of 16-17-17-17-39-1T, for which the SoC Voltage had to raise to 1.2 V, and apply 1.4 V to the modules themselves. The Command Rate on the board was always set automatically, and CAS Latency could never be set at 17 — either 18 or 16. Another not very good point is related to new platform — not every memory is suitable even for the 2933 MHz mode, since Ryzen’s love for Samsung chips has been noticed, while there are problems with SK hynix chips. For example, the HyperX HX432C16PB3K2 / 16 set could not be launched at such a frequency.
As for the potential of the processor itself, not everything is so smooth here. The new architecture, a complex crystal made itself felt — the Ryzen 7 1800X, when overclocking all cores, could only operate at a frequency of 4 GHz, while the supply voltage had to be raised to 1.45 volts. In this mode and with DDR4-3200 memory, the system easily passed the Prime95 stress test for 30 minutes, and the cores warmed up to 91.3 ° C under be quiet! Silent Loop 280mm. Just recently it became known that the temperature for the Ryzen 7 1800X / 1700X processors is overestimated by 20 ° C to optimize the performance of the XFR cooling system, so all utilities will soon have to be updated for more reliable readings.
If manual overclocking by sorting through the settings in the UEFI of the motherboard seems to be a very difficult task for someone, you can always resort to the Ryzen Master proprietary utility, released just for this purpose. In addition to controlling frequencies and voltages, it allows you to turn off cores and save profiles with settings, as well as monitor frequencies for each core separately and temperature. Interestingly, in the latter case, it loads the processor well.
Well, about the saddest thing. When searching for the highest possible processor frequency, at 4100 MHz during the Prime95 stress test, the motherboard rebooted and started trying to update the firmware, after which it went into a cyclic restart and eventually turned into the most ordinary “brick”. Fortunately, all the planned tests for this article were passed, and our «motherboard» was sent to the service center. So, our dear readers, be extremely careful when overclocking a new platform.