AMD didn’t offer much news on its desktop processors at its CES press conference this morning, but it did offer a brief preview of its next-generation Ryzen 7000 processors and its Zen 4 architecture. These chips will be released in the second half of 2022 and will require an all-new motherboard with a new AM5 processor socket.
We know few details about the Ryzen 7000 CPUs, except that they’ll be built on a 5nm TSMC manufacturing process and that the sample AMD demonstrated onstage was running at 5 GHz (the current 5950X tops out at 4.9 GHz). We also didn’t hear anything about the AM5 socket that we didn’t already know—just that it will be a Land Grid Array (LGA) socket that puts the pins on the motherboard rather than on the bottom of the processor, the same as Intel’s desktop chips. We also know that CPU coolers made for AM4 motherboards should continue to work on AM5 boards.
AMD has been using the physical AM4 socket since 2016, but it still has a little life left in it—the new Ryzen 7 5800X3D CPU is an 8-core, 16-thread chip that uses the AM4 socket and improves speeds by stacking L3 cache on top of the processor die, something that AMD calls “3D V-Cache technology.” This both increases the cache’s bandwidth and the amount of cache; the standard 5800X includes just 32 MB of cache, compared to the 5800X3D’s 96 MB.
AnandTech goes into more depth about the technology in this piece, but the short version is that gaming performance improves by an average of 15 percent thanks to 3D V-Cache, even though the Ryzen 7 5800X uses the same Zen 3 architecture, the same 7 nm manufacturing process, and the same 105 W TDP as other Ryzen 5000-series chips and slots into the same motherboards (presumably a BIOS update will be required).
AMD didn’t announce pricing for the 5800X3D or whether it had more 3D V-Cache processors to announce. But with manufacturing capacity limited by the ongoing chip shortage, a smaller selection of chips that is consistently available to buy is probably better than announcing a full refresh that no one can find. AMD was having trouble meeting demand for its 5000-series CPUs early in 2021, but it caught up to demand later in the year. And AMD didn’t say whether there would be Ryzen 6000-series desktop processors—though it’s looking like Ryzen 6000 will be reserved for laptop chips and APUs, like the Ryzen 4000 nomenclature was.
The 5800X3D should be a decent stopgap for people who want to drop a new CPU into their existing AMD system instead of paying more money for a 12th-generation Intel Core CPU or waiting for Ryzen 7000 to roll around. But it still doesn’t address the sub-$200 processor market, which Intel just made a lot more interesting with some of its new Core i5 and Core i3 chips. Whether AMD will introduce new products or drop prices to compete with these budget processors remains to be seen.