AMD unveils first CPU with 3D V-Cache tech, cheaper Ryzens

Sub-$299 Zen 3 desktop chips throw wrench into Intel wheelhouse

AMD is doling out a handful of new Ryzen desktop processors, including the first to use the chip designer's 3D die stacking technology.

The eight-core Ryzen 7 5800X3D, which has an extra die of cache fused on the top, will debut April 20 with recommended customer pricing of $449, the company announced Tuesday. That is the same price as the vanilla Ryzen 7 5800X, which lacks the aforementioned AMD 3D V-Cache technology, when it debuted in the fall of 2020.

AMD said gamers can expect an average 15 percent performance boost for various PC titles when compared to its 2020 flagship CPU, the 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X. The Ryzen 7 5800X3D CPU, which AMD is calling the "ultimate gaming processor," comes with a 4.5GHz boost frequency, a 3.4GHz base frequency, and a 105W thermal design power.

First teased more than a year ago at Computex, AMD's 3D V-Cache technology allows the chip house to effectively triple the amount of cache for its Zen 3 cores by bonding 64MB of 7nm SRAM cache directly onto each group of cores, also known as core complexes, in a single microprocessor package.

In the case of the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, the processor comes with a total L2 and L3 cache of 100MB, which is significantly higher than Ryzen 9 5900X's 70MB of total cache and Ryzen 7 5800X's 36MB. This extra cache added via 3D packaging will have a big impact on software with "incredible sensitivity to memory latency," including open-world games like Far Cry 6 and Watch Dogs: Legion, AMD has said.

CEO Lisa Su has said AMD's approach to 3D packaging, which involves the use of a direct copper-to-copper bond rather than silicon microbump technology used by others, allows her company's 3D V-Cache chips to only use a third of the power required by competitors.

AMD is expected to debut its 3D V-Cache technology for high-performance computing customers soon with a refresh of its third-generation Epyc server CPUs that go under the code name Milan-X, which honestly sounds like some kind of MacGuffin the X-Men would chase after. Some lucky HPC buffs have already been sampling Milan-X chips, AMD recently told investors.

AMD priced the new 3D chip about $100 lower than expected, given the extra costs associated with 3D packaging technology. This means AMD is willing to make lower margins on the chip to compete with Intel's 12th-generation Core CPUs, which were also priced competitively, according to More than Moore analyst Ian Cutress.

Cheaper Ryzen chips ahoy

If $449 sounds like a little too expensive, AMD has gamers covered with several new Ryzen processors coming out April 4 that are much more affordable, including the first chips with AMD's Zen 3 architecture to go under the $299 mark.

The new Zen 3 processors consist of the eight-core, 4.6GHz boosted Ryzen 7 5700X for $299, the six-core, 4.4GHz boosted Ryzen 5 5600 for $199, and the six-core, 4.2GHz boosted Ryzen 5 5500 for $159. These 65W CPUs may only have a total cache of 36MB, 35MB, and 19MB respectively, but at least their lower prices will open up the budget for a chunkier graphics card, if you please.

The chip giant has even more budget options if you don't mind dipping into AMD's older Zen 2 architecture. These 65W processors consist of a $154 Ryzen 5 4600G with six cores, a 4.2GHz boost frequency, and integrated Radeon graphics, as well as a six-core, 4.1GHz boosted Ryzen 5 4500 for $129, and a four-core, 4GHz-boosted Ryzen 3 4100. Their total cache is 11MB, 11MB, and 6MB respectively.

One important thing to know for gamers who want faster throughput for graphics cards and SSDs is that only the Ryzen 7 5700X and Ryzen 5 5600 come with support for PCIe Gen 4. The rest of the processors only support the slower PCIe Gen 3 technology. And only buyers of the Ryzen 7 5700X have to buy a separate cooling apparatus since the remaining chips comes with AMD's Wraith Stealth setup.

The last bit of good news for gamers is that AMD has extended support for Ryzen 5000 processors, including the new ones announced today, to the older AMD 300 Series motherboard chipsets. This means that PCs with AMD X370, B350, and A320 chipsets will be able to upgrade to the new Ryzen chips once motherboard vendors release a new BIOS update, which will go in beta for select systems in April. ®

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