COMPUTER CHIP FORERUNNERS AMD and Intel are the tech industry's longest-standing rivals when it comes to semiconductors. The pair have been battling for the attention of PC users, gamers, enthusiasts and manufacturers since the late '60s, and the fight between them is showing no sign of cooling off anytime soon.
Just when everyone thought Intel was the sure market leader, AMD went and launched its secret weapon, the Intel-killer known as Ryzen, claiming it to be its latest CPU to offer better performance at half the price or more of rival Intel Core i7 products.
But how do the specs stack up? While it's too early for us yet to say which is the best in terms of benchmark results, we can certainly pit the two chip rivals' respective processors to see which sounds best on paper. We compare the new AMD Ryzen chip to Intel's biggest and baddest offerings just how far it challenges the Core i7's supremacy in high-end computing.
AMD's new Ryzen chip is based on its Zen microarchitecture, built on a 14nm FinFET manufacturing process and utilising a new AM4 socket. It also finally debuts AMD's Simultaneous Multithreading (SMT) technology, which is similar to Intel's Hyper-Threading technology, where two threads are utilised per core.
Intel's latest Core i7 offering is based on the firm's Kaby Lake architecture, which is also produced using a 14-nanometer manufacturing process technology. It features faster CPU clock speeds, clock speed changes, and higher Turbo frequencies than previous versions, however, beyond these process and clock speed changes, little of the CPU architecture has changed from its predecessor, Skylake.
Chip families and specs
AMD's Ryzen offerings actually mimic the format of Intel's chip families in terms of both name and performance skews. For instance, the AMD Ryzen 7 line competes with the Intel Core i7, the Ryzen 5 with the Intel Core i5 and the budget-priced Ryzen 3 with Intel's Core i3.
AMD's top-spec Ryzen CPU is the Ryzen 7 1800X processor, a CPU with eight cores, supporting the execution of 16 threads, a 3.6GHz base clock and the ability to boost up to 4GHz Turbo Clock. Intel's Kaby Lake equivalent is the Core i7 processor, the i7-7700K, which boasts a 4.2 GHz clock speed, four cores and an 8MB cache.
However, it's important to note that AMD's Ryzen 7 1800X processor isn't the only new chip in the new lineup. Just down the range is the Ryzen 7 1700X, an eight-core, 16-thread chip running at a slower 3.4GHz base and 3.8GHz Turbo Core. Then there's the Ryzen 7 1700, another eight-core chip with 16 threads, but running at a lower 3GHz base clock and 3.7GHz Turbo Core. Both the 1700X and 1800X have a TDP of 95W, while the regular 1700 is rated at 65W.
While all these high-end CPU offerings seem awfully expensive, AMD's cheaper and lower performance offerings - Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 processors - will be available later this year to rival Intel's Core i3 and Core i5 chips.
As for performance, most people generally consider Intel to be better than AMD, and according to performance expectations, the same could ring true with the companies' latest releases. For example, the prelim benchmarks of AMD's 3.6GHz Ryzen 1800X CPU compared to a Kaby Lake 4.2GHz Intel Core i7 7700K CPU is slightly weaker. However, because AMD is going after the resurgent PC gaming market, its Ryzen chips are overclockable and thus can be run at much faster speeds than advertised.
The extra processor cores offered by Ryzen compared to Kaby Lake (eight instead of four) also mean that certain tasks should run much faster than Intel's equivalent chips. And given that the Kaby Lake CPU offering doesn't really offer much of a performance improvement over 2015's Skylake, gamers might well choose an AMD processor and motherboard for their next upgrade.
So if you need power and use your PC for processes such as 3D rendering, video encoding or gaming, and know that these tasks run better on multiple cores, then it might be worth investing in AMD.
AMD's top-spec Ryzen CPU is the Ryzen 7 1800X processor can be found for £489 over at Amazon. Intel's flagship Core i7-7700K costs just £320 on Amazon, a significant difference in price. However, come down in performance a little and AMD's Ryzen 7 becomes more affordable. The Ryzen 7 1700X is currently priced at £390, while the Ryzen 7 1700 will set you back around £320, depending on where you buy it from. µ