Ahead of a major desktop CPU refresh towards the end of this year, AMD (AMD) - Get Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Report might be planning to tweak its existing desktop lineup to put it on better footing against Intel’s (INTC) - Get Intel Corporation (INTC) Report latest offerings.
Over the last few days, multiple reports have indicated that AMD plans to replace three CPUs within its third-gen Ryzen desktop CPU lineup, which launched last summer, with products that would deliver 5% to 10% more performance thanks to slightly higher base and boost clock speeds. Specifically, the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X, 8-core Ryzen 7 3700X and 6-core Ryzen 5 3600X would be replaced by CPUs known as the 3900XT, 3700XT and 3600XT, respectively, with list prices remaining unchanged.
According to tech enthusiast site Wccftech, the “XT” CPUs will be unveiled on June 16 and officially go on sale on July 7. It added that the launches will be accompanied by price cuts for existing third-gen Ryzen desktop CPUs.
Outside of its Ryzen Threadripper high-end desktop (HEDT) line for enthusiasts and workstation buyers, the 3900X is AMD’s second-most powerful desktop CPU, behind the $749, 16-core, Ryzen 9 3950X. It still maintains a $499 list price, but (following price cuts earlier this year) is now sold for a 15% to 20% discount to its list price by retailers such as Amazon and Newegg.
Assuming recent reports are accurate, AMD will be updating its third-gen Ryzen desktop lineup during a year in which (as confirmed during AMD’s March analyst day event) it plans to launch its first fourth-gen PC CPUs. Those CPUs should deliver bigger performance gains relative to comparable third-gen Ryzen desktop offerings, thanks to the use of AMD’s next-gen, Zen 3, CPU core microarchitecture and potentially higher clock speeds.
Possibly motivating AMD to update its third-gen Ryzen desktop lineup is the fact that Intel just rolled out its 10th-gen Core desktop CPU line, codenamed Comet Lake. Relative to comparable 9th-gen desktop CPUs launched a year ago, Intel’s Comet Lake CPUs sport slightly higher clock speeds and (though using some of them can cause power consumption to spike) additional options for automatically overclocking one or more cores.
In addition, whereas Intel’s most powerful 9th-gen desktop CPUs packed 8 cores, the most powerful Comet Lake CPUs contain 10 cores. Reviews tend to show Intel’s top-of-the-line Comet Lake CPU, the $488 Core i9-10900K, moderately outperforming AMD’s 3900X in gaming benchmarks and other tests where single-core performance matters a lot. However, the 3900X (not to mention the 3950X) generally has an edge in tests measuring rendering, encoding and other workloads where having more cores can make a big difference.
Thanks in part to a manufacturing process edge that has yielded both core count and power efficiency advantages, AMD’s third-gen Ryzen desktop line has helped drive additional CPU share gains. Mercury Research estimates that (excluding IoT systems) AMD had an 18.3% desktop CPU share in Q4 2019, up from 15.9% a year earlier.
Along with Zen 3-based PC CPUs, AMD has said it plans to launch a Zen 3-based server CPU line (codenamed Milan) later this year, as well as new server and gaming GPUs. The gaming GPU line, which will rely on a next-gen architecture known as RDNA 2, is promised to deliver a 50% improvement in performance per watt relative to the RDNA-architecture GPUs launched last year, and include products that (like Nvidia’s (NVDA) - Get NVIDIA Corporation Report high-end gaming GPUs) support variable rate shading and real-time ray tracing.