Nearly two years after the launch of its Ryzen 5000 desktop CPUs, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD 0.44%) has unveiled a new set of chips as it battles Intel for market share. AMD's Ryzen 7000 series chips are based on the new Zen 4 architecture, and they're built on TSMC's advanced 5nm process node. This potent combination should deliver exceptional gains in performance and efficiency.
The four initial chips in AMD's Ryzen 7000 series won't be available until Sept. 27, giving retailers plenty of time to amass inventory. This launch should go more smoothly than last time around when the global semiconductor shortage hindered availability.
AMD's Ryzen 5000 series chips were notable because they clearly topped Intel in terms of single-threaded performance, crucially important for gaming, for the first time in many years. The Ryzen 7000 series builds on that success, and AMD is touting some impressive performance numbers to entice customers to upgrade.
AMD is launching four new chips: The Ryzen 5 7600X is a 6-core processor priced at $299; the Ryzen 7 7700X has 8 cores and will go for $399; the Ryzen 9 7900X has 12 cores and will sell for $549; and the ultra-premium Ryzen 9 7950X features 16 cores for $699.
It's likely that AMD will fill in some gaps in the lineup down the road, but this is the Ryzen 7000 series as it stands today. The chips won't be compatible with old motherboards that support previous-generation products, but that's probably a good thing. Motherboards that support Ryzen 7000 chips can handle more power-hungry chips; feature PCIe 5.0 interfaces for speedy data movement between the CPU and other components; and include ultra-fast Wi-Fi 6E connectivity.
The move to a new architecture in tandem with the move to a more advanced process technology has unlocked some serious performance improvements. The top-tier 7950X processor delivers up to 29% higher single-threaded performance compared to the previous-generation 5950X; a 45% performance boost in ray-tracing applications; and a 15% boost in gaming performance across the titles AMD tested. On top of performance gains, the chip provides 27% better performance per watt.
The lower end 7600X is no slouch either. While gaming performance gains over the previous generation 5600X vary widely based on the game in question, the new chip can deliver a 40% improvement in some cases. Averaged across the games AMD tested, the 7600X is 21% faster in gaming than the 5600X.
It should be noted that these numbers come directly from AMD, so they should be taken with a grain of salt. Third-party benchmarks and testing won't be available until closer to launch, but if the results are close to what AMD is promising, the Ryzen 7000 series should be appealing to gamers, content creators, and power users.
Demand is a wildcard
Unfortunately, AMD is launching these new chips into a tough PC market. Global PC sales sank 15.3% in the second quarter, according to IDC, following two years of pandemic-driven growth. The good news is that PC sales volumes are still well above pre-pandemic levels. The bad news is that no one knows how low sales will sink.
AMD sells its chips to both PC manufacturers and consumers building their own PCs, and the market for gaming PCs can certainly outperform the broader PC market. Still, with stubbornly high inflation pressuring consumers and demand for graphics cards falling off a cliff, it's hard to predict how much appetite there will be for AMD's new chips.
AMD expects to grow its revenue around 60% this year, partly driven by the expected success of the Ryzen 7000 launch. If sales are more sluggish than anticipated, AMD may have to follow other chip companies and cut its guidance to reflect a more difficult environment.