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AMD unveils its second-generation Ryzen CPUs

The $329 Ryzen 7 2700X is its new flagship. With last year's Ryzen processors, AMD made a grand re-entry into the world of high-performance desktop computing. Now its improving on those designs with its second-generation Ryzen chips, which are a bit faster and more efficient. And, due to fan demand, AMD is also throwing in free "Wraith" coolers with every CPU. The big takeaway this year: AMD is in an even better place to compete with Intel. The highest end Ryzen model is the eight-core Ryzen 7 2700X, which replaces the 1800X and 1700X from last year (honestly they weren't that different). With a base clock of 3.7GHz, and a boost speed of 4.3Ghz, it's faster than the 1800X, which ran between 3.6Ghz and 4Ghz. The new chip is also a much better deal at $329, compared with the $399 and $499 launch prices of the 1700X and 1800X. In comparison, Intel's six-core i7-8700K sells for around $350. At the more affordable end, there's the six-core Ryzen 5 2600, which will go for $199. It's clocked between 3.4Ghz and 3.9GHz, and it should be a solid competitor to Intel's similarly priced Core i5-8500. The new chips are built on AMD's 12 nanometer Zen+ architecture, so you can think of them as a slight upgrade over last year's models. Its true platform followup, Zen 2, is expected to debut next year. 8AMD is keeping full details about the new Zen chips under wraps until their April 19th launch. But it did reveal a few tidbits: They'll run on its new X470 AM4 chipset, and they'll support its StoreMI technology, which can speed up disk performance by linking together SSDs, traditional hard disks and RAM.

Second-gen Ryzens out for preorder now, shipping next week

The top-end part also bumps up the power draw. The second-generation AMD Ryzen desktop processors are open for preorders today. Shipping on April 19th, the new chips start at $199 for a six-core, 12-thread part running at a base of 3.4GHz and a turbo of 3.9GHz; the prices goes up to $329 for an eight-core, 16-thread processor at 3.7/4.3GHz. The second generation increases clock speeds (the previous high-end part had clocks of 3.6/4.0GHz) and makes the processor's turbo boosting smarter. On first-generation parts, the clock boosting could happen to a pair of cores, or all cores together. This meant that if you needed, say, four fast cores, they were constrained to the "all core" turbo speed. On the second-generation chips, that turbo boosting is now available with any number of cores, just as long as there's power and thermal headroom. Workloads with more than two cores, but fewer than all of them, should be able to use more of the available power budget and hence run faster. The new processors are compatible with the first-generation motherboards (though they may need a firmware update to work). AMD is also releasing a new high-end chipset, X470. X470's big feature is "StoreMI," a hybrid disk system that allows volumes to be built that span both SSDs and spinning disks (and even RAM disks) to boost I/O performance. The price chart above also shows the other couple of differences relative to first generation. First, the top-end part now ships with an in-box heatsink/fan. Previously, the high-end part was shipped naked and had to be used with a third-party cooler. Second, the top part has had its power rating increased from 95W to 105W. This shouldn't make much difference to system builders, as they will generally have power and cooling to spare, but it suggests that those higher clock speeds aren't coming for free.