The AMD Ryzen 2 processors are the new AMD CPUs arriving in April, with the second-gen, 2000-series Pinnacle Ridge chips bringing with them a new lithography, higher clockspeeds, and improved efficiency.
Want to see how the current crop stack up? Check out our pick of the best CPUs for gaming.
- AMD Ryzen 2 release date
The second-generation of Ryzen processors, code-named Pinnacle Ridge, is going to be launched in April, just over 12 months after the first CPUs burst onto the scene. A recent Amazon pre-order page has suggested a April 19 release.
- AMD Ryzen 2 specs
It’s all about the new 12nm production process, so don’t expect any more cores, just slightly higher clockspeeds, better gaming performance, and improved efficiency. Leaked benchmarks even point to a potential 4.35GHz chip.
- AMD Ryzen 2 AM4 platform
Just as AMD promised, the Ryzen 2000-series chips will drop into the exact same AM4 CPU socket the first Ryzen processors, and the new Raven Ridge APUs, use. Though there will be a new set of 400-series chipsets.
- AMD Ryzen 2 price
The prices of the last-gen Ryzen chips have been slashed over the last couple of months, but we don’t expect the Ryzen 2 CPUs to be significantly more expensive when they launch.
- AMD Ryzen 2 performance
AMD originally suggested the process change from 14nm to 12nm would yield a 10% performance boost on its own, but clockspeed bumps and second-gen Precision Boost are potentially showing 18% benchmark gains.
Update March 16, 2018: After a volley of recent benchmark leaks, AMD’s Ryzen 5 2600X briefly became available for pre-order on Amazon Germany.
While the listing has since been removed, the Ryzen 5 2600X was listed for launch on April 19, 2018 at €249. It seems likely that the remaining second generation Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 chips will also make their way out to us at this time, although it wouldn’t be surprising to see the low-end Ryzen 3 chips following slightly later in the year.
The Ryzen 5 2600X was listed with a base clock of 3.6GHz and a boost clock of 4.25GHz. Recently leaked Geekbench benchmarks show the Ryzen 5 2600X performing 18% better than the previous generation Ryzen 5 1600X, and it may even come with a Wraith Spire in the box, too. Bonus.
Original feature: It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since the red team released the first AMD Ryzen CPUs, sending shockwaves through the processor market and disrupting every launch their Intel rivals made throughout the rest of the year.
And now they're back, producing an updated second-gen version of the Ryzen chips using a slightly respecced Zen+ CPU architecture with a few key tweaks. So, what are AMD offering with these new processors?
After a lot of early 2018 speculation AMD have now officially announced their refreshed 2nd generation Ryzen 2 processors will be launched in April this year. It’s likely that AMD will stagger the 2000-series release, with the different ranges following a similar Ryzen 7 > Ryzen 5 > Ryzen 3 release cadence to the launches back in 2017. That said, I don’t think there will be as big a gap between the CPU releases.
The new processors are already being sampled out to motherboard manufacturers and other AMD partners for testing, however, so expect to see more SiSoft Sandra database entries detailing snippets of the new chips cropping up over the next few months.
At the same time we’ll see the 400-series chipsets being launched too, starting with the X470 motherboards, likely with the B450 and A420 following later as the full 2000-series range is released.
The latest 'leak' has suggested an April 19 release date for the Pinnacle Ridge chips and their 400-series boards, but I'm only calling it a 'leak' because the presentation slides they've come from look about as legit as the guy who used to try and sell dodgy DVDs out the back of our local pub.
The new Ryzen 2000 series Pinnacle Ridge chips will feature the new Zen+ architecture and use an improved 12nm production process, as opposed to the first Ryzen chips’ 14nm lithography.
Don’t expect any extra cores being squeezed into the new Ryzen 2 family, however. The 12nm design isn’t going to allow for any extra space inside the chip as it’s more about power than extra transistor density. James Prior, one of AMD’s desktop gurus, told us at CES that “it’s not an area statement, it’s a power efficiency statement. The area is not going to change much, but the ability for us to manipulate the frequency voltage curve has improved.”
And in terms of the actual spread of core counts for the new chips he explained they weren’t ready to talk about that yet, “but don’t expect any wild surprises because this is an evolutionary design.”
But AMD are also promising extra features to optimise the performance per Watt capabilities of their new Zen+ processors. The new Precision Boost 2 and Extended Frequency Range (XFR) 2 features have changed the CPU goalposts for boosted clockspeeds. In the previous design Precision Boost would only kick in when there were just two cores being used, but now it’s going to be enabled even when all CPU cores are engaged.
That’s going to allow the boost frequencies to be used for more real world applications, such as gaming. A lot of games are still designed to primarily use a single core or thread, but they will often also spill small workloads off onto other threads. With the previous version of Precision Boost, even if these other threads were barely ticking over, it would be enough to nix the auto-overclocking and would immediately drop the 1000-series Ryzen chips down to their base clockspeeds.
With this second generation version on the Ryzen 2000-series processors it’s much more opportunistic and will aim for the highest possible frequency, with increased granularity, by constantly checking against CPU temperature, load, and current. That means there’s no longer a step change in frequency and more of a gradual move up and down the curve.
In short, it ought to give us higher boosted clockspeeds in-game. Bonus.
As well as in the upcoming Pinnacle Ridge Ryzen 2 CPUs, Precision Boost 2 is already in action in the current Ryzen Mobile - even the super low-power new Ryzen 3 mobile chips - and will also be in the Raven Ridge desktop APUs which AMD have announced are coming on February 12 this year.
We’ve seen early details of the straight Ryzen 5 2600 processor appearing on the SiSoft Sandra database and that is suggesting a 200MHz speed bump on the base clockspeed. If AMD are capable of enabling that sort of increase on a 65W processor, then it’s entirely possible the 95W chips will get a similar boost too.
That would make for a Ryzen 5 2600X getting a max boost of 4.2GHz, which would be a tantalising prospect for the update to our favourite gaming processor of the moment.
Those specs have been confirmed via a subsequent Geekbench result appearing on the database. That also shows the same 3.4GHz baseclock and also suggests a 3.8GHz maximum boost clock too.
Some redacted SiSoftware Sandra screenshots from HW Battle, and now taken down, purports to show a Ryzen 2000-series CPU with a peak Turbo clockspeed of 4.35GHz. A lot of speculation has put that as the upcoming Ryzen 7 2700X, though we've only previously seen that Turbo-ing up to 4.1GHz.
That 4.35GHz Turbo seems an odd figure, given that stock clocks have only ever been rated to single decimal points, which leads us to believe that's possibly down to the XFR 2 boost of an X-series Ryzen chip. Though if XFR 2 is capable of dynamically delivering an extra 250MHz over the 2700X's reported 4.1GHz top speed that really will be something.
It's more likely the screenshot has been taken from an overclocked engineering sample, if it's even based on a genuine Ryzen 2000-series chip at all.
There was some concern about the Pinnacle Ridge processors' cooling potential when it was revealed by AMD that the 2000-series Raven Ridge APUs were using a non-metallic thermal interface material inside the heatspreader. They chose this material as it was cheaper and considered less vital for a low-cost chip.
AMD's Robert Hallock has confirmed via Reddit, however, that they are returning to the soldered heatspreader for the second-gen Ryzen processors. That's the same thermal interface they used for the initial 1000-series variants.
Along with the new Ryzen 2000-series chips will come a fresh 400-series chipset. Don’t panic just yet if you’re rocking an existing 300-series AM4 board as it will still be compatible with the new Pinnacle Ridge CPUs, you’ll just need a BIOS update.
All the manufacturers of the 120-odd AM4 boards on the market have promised to have BIOS updates available for their 300-series boards to allow this cross-compatibility, but you won’t have to wait ‘til April for that as they’re going to be released in time for the Raven Ridge desktop APUs.
Because these new desktop APUs use a lot of the new features of the Pinnacle Ridge chips they require a new BIOS to work too. So, if you’re looking to pick up any 2000-series processor, be it Pinnacle or Raven Ridge, then you need to make sure your board’s updated first. AMD will be putting an ‘AMD Ryzen Desktop 2000 Ready’ sticker on all updated boards, so if it ain’t got a sticker it needs updating before your new chip will work.
But what exactly are the 400-series board going to offer?
“The new 400-series chipset is an evolution of the 300-series,” explains Prior. “We’re going to improve a couple of capabilities, like when you plug in a USB hub to our root complex you get better throughput from multiple USB connections at the same time, we’re improving power consumption. We’re also taking in a bunch of the feedback from the launch of the 300-series motherboard and pushing those into the design of the 400-series motherboards. So the new high-end boards are going to have improved memory layout, memory overclocking, VRMs, power delivery, as well as a change in the chipset.”
That means you might get some improved overclocking, but aside from the I/O performance the old 300-series boards aren’t going to be too far off the pace of the new chipset when it comes to getting those new 12nm chips rocking.
The new 400-series AM4 boards will still retain cross-compatibility with the previous generation of Ryzen processors, as well as support for all the AM4-based APUs too.
Obviously, with the launch still a few months out, we don’t yet have final pricing for the new Ryzen 2 processors, but there’s a little we can extrapolate from the current price tags AMD have slapped on the existing chips.
Because of all the new Ryzen desktop processors on their way in 2018 - what with Pinnacle Ridge in April and Raven Ridge in February - AMD have changed the entire pricing structure for the existing 1000-series CPU range. But given that the new chips aren’t going to be hugely different in terms of specs, and likely performance, we wouldn’t expect the Ryzen 2000-series of processors to be much different
I doubt AMD will launch the expected Ryzen 7 2800X at the same level they started out with the Ryzen 7 1800X. The top-end octa-core Ryzen launched at $500, but is now just $349, we would guess from that the Ryzen 7 2800X is more likely to start out life at $399 with the rest of the range filling in below.
If AMD pegged the Ryzen 2 processors at the original high launch price I could see a huge number of people still picking up the 1000-series chips instead.
Given that we don’t expect there to be any real core-count changes for the new Ryzen 2 processors, all the performance differences between the 2000- and 1000-series CPUs will be down to the process changes, clockspeed bumps, and feature updates.
AMD are estimating the switch from the 14nm node to a 12nm one would be able to deliver a performance boost of around 10% on its own. Couple that with an expected boost to the base and maximum clockspeeds and you should see a nice little overall performance hike compared with the previous generation.
Fresh benchmarks have appeared online showing gen-on-gen performance boosts of around 18% for the new Pinnacle Ridge processors. The latest Geekbench scores show both the Ryzen 7 2700X and the Ryzen 5 2600X delivering around that impressive benchmark hike compared with their first-gen compatriots.
Considering the Zen+ architecture is essentially purely a die-shrink from 14nm to 12nm, it's looking like the new Precision Boost feature, which allows the Ryzen 2 CPUs more free range to hit their peak frequencies, is having a serious impact on the benchmark performance of the new chips.
And if that carries over into gaming, then we could be looking at AMD completely castrating the Intel competition. Gaming performance was really Intel's last bastion of hope against the plucky Ryzen upstart, and that's going to make Intel's response this year very interesting indeed.
The changes to the Precision Boost and XFR algorithms will be what delivers extra performance for us gamers. At the moment games are not really benefiting from the dynamic boosting of the Ryzen 1000-series cores, so the second-gen version of Precision Boost, which enables the built-in overclock even if all the cores are in use, ought to deliver higher frequencies while gaming.
With the improved production process, more mature CPU architecture, and improved 400-series chipset, it’s also possible that we’ll see some improved overclocking performance from the new Ryzen 2000-series chips too. The original Ryzen processors do not offer a lot in the way of overclocking headroom, but if we can get the Ryzen 2 CPUs up around the 5GHz mark that would be something.