AMD's Second Generation Ryzen CPU Arriving In April

With CES kicking off this week, all the major names have announcements, and AMD is no exception.

Vega Mobile is AMD's update to its Vega GPU line. The chips will higher clock speeds than their predecessors and offer support for Precision Boost 2 technology. Second-generation Ryzen CPUs using the 'Zen+' architecture and a 12nm manufacturing process are already being sampled and will begin shipping in April 2018.

Just as a fun fact, if you're trying to picture how tiny 12nm is, a typical human hair is around 7000nm thick. "We're going to improve a couple of capabilities, like when you plug in a USB hub to our root complex you get better throughput from multiple USB connections at the same time, we're improving power consumption". There don't appear to be any other substantial changes to the underlying architecture, though AMD may have a surprise or two in store.

Just ahead of CES 2018, AMD has detailed a whole bunch of stuff that will be coming out this year, covering everything from 2nd-gen Ryzen processors and desktop Ryzen APUs, to new Ryzen Mobile APUs and even discrete mobile Vega GPUs. GlobalFoundries has previously indicated it wants to be in 7nm production by the end of 2018, which would square with a 2019 introduction for Zen 2. The Ryzen 3 2300U has four cores and a max clock speed of 3.4GHz, while the Ryzen 3 2200U is almost identical but with two cores. Most of the improvements to the 400-series chipsets involve better memory support and greater scope for overclocking, at least from what AMD has said so far. Considering some of the early growing pains with the AM4 platform, the new chipset may help to further improve performance, stability, and features.

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AMD had quite a successful year in 2017 thanks to its Ryzen processors and the company is planning to continue the momentum by releasing the second-generation Ryzen processors later this year. Likewise, the Ryzen 7 1800X has dropped from $499 to $349, while the Ryzen 5 1600X has moved from $249 to $219. These primarily target ultraportable laptops with 15W TDP, packing up to 4-cores/8-threads and 10 Vega CUs. On January 9, the company will add Ryzen 3-branded low-end parts to the line-up, and February 12 will see the launch of desktop APUs. The company says the Ryzen 5 2400G will play games at full HD resolution at frame rates much better than you'd see from the Intel Core i5-8400, and the Ryzen 3 2200G will similarly tower over the Core i3-8100. Obviously, both will offer lower performance than a 6-core or 8-core Ryzen desktop part with a discrete graphics card, but for budget-friendly builds that still offer decent gaming performance the Ryzen APUs will be attractive.

Do note that this second generation Ryzen CPUs are NOT Ryzen 2 CPUs. AMD has nothing in this very lucrative corporate space, enterprise needs manageable laptops and Intel has clear sailing.

Finally, AMD surprised me with the announcement of an upcoming 7nm Vega part for this year. This year, Vega will be getting a 7nm refresh, specifically to compete with Nvidia on the machine learning and AI front.

In terms of what's coming down the pike, AMD says that we can expect the Vega family to expand to include a new Radeon Vega mobile GPU for ultrathin notebooks in 2018.

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