AMD today announced a new family joining their Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 processors, called Ryzen Pro. If product names weren’t already getting long enough, well this is just extending that a little bit. With professionally-skewed versions of Ryzen 3, 5, and 7 for workstations, AMD has now put themselves on the map to compete for businesses buying up dedicated workstations for their users, and a lot of the features available in Ryzen Pro were previously relegated to the Intel Xeon families. Well, no more. Hit the jump for the announcement.
But first, the juicy bits. Ryzen Pro is basically the same Ryzen silicon that you’d find on traditional desktops, only this time you have several guarantees in place. Clock speeds and performance would be the kind of guarantee that AMD can make, alongside market availability and image stability – the latter of which is a time period in which drivers, software, and the ecosystem surrounding these processors will be maintained. AMD guarantees that all Ryzen Pro processors will be available on the market for up to two years, with a consistent software ecosystem of up to 18 months. All of them can be controlled remotely through AMD’s system management software called DASH, and every chip promises more security than the regular Ryzen platform.
Ryzen Pro basically picks up all the reference clock speeds from the Ryzen 5 and 7 lineups and repeats them here. Ryzen 7 Pro 1700X will still have AMD’s SenseMI-driven extended frequency range boost, allowing up to two cores to increase their clock speeds to 3.9GHz for burstable workloads. Every other chip has the same feature, but will only boost up two cores by an additional 50MHz instead of 100MHz. It’s largely insubstantial, but it’s a checkbox feature that AMD can tick off that does deliver extra performance, even if that performance boost is minor.
The newcomers are Ryzen 3 Pro 1300 and 1200. These are presumably a single die design with two core complexes disabled, which means it’s the same design as a Ryzen 7 1700, but with four cores and 8MB of L3 cache disabled. This is a strategy AMD followed on in the hopes that it allows them to rapidly flood the market with fully usable processors, but it means that good dies have to be sacrificed to make cheaper products. Ryzen 3 on the consumer side hasn’t launched yet, and no pricing was available for the Ryzen Pro family.
These processors should only be sold to OEM desktop manufacturers like Dell, HP, Acer, and Lenovo, but they’ll surely find their way into the hands of consumers as well. All systems will be sold and shipped with AMD’s Wraith Spire cooler.
Even though pricing isn’t available, this slide more or less tells us where these chips will be going. Ryzen 7 Pro is aimed to provide alternatives to Intel Core i7 desktops, and this probably means the Kaby Lake family based on the LGA 1151 socket. It would be a bit unfair to pit these systems up against Intel’s HEDT family (Core i7 Kaby Lake-X/Skylake-X) although Ryzen Pro would certainly do fairly well against those machines.
Ryzen Pro 5 and Pro 3 will be competing with Core i3 and Core i5, as well as Intel’s Kaby Lake Pentium family. This is an interesting match-up, because the Pentium chips recently gained access to Hyper-threading which makes them cheaper Core i3 processors lacking a few features, while Ryzen 3 Pro is a bonafide quad-core processor with way more L2 and L3 cache to play with.
Security is a feature for these processors, and Ryzen Pro has some interesting benefits compared to Intel. Using the on-board ARM processor that runs AMD’s trusted security platform, Ryzen Pro has had the internal hardware-accelerated AES 128-bit encryption engine enabled, which is useful for systems that have full-disk encryption for security purposes. It also additionally supports the Trusted Platform Management (TPM) 2.0 standard, offering a ton of security and manageability features that will help secure systems in an enterprise environment.
There’s some other nifty stuff included as well. Transparent Secure Memory Encryption (SME) allows you to have a virtual machine allocate memory on a host system, for example, but to not have the host able to read those memory stores or edit them. Secure Boot is another checkbox feature, as it’s been around for a while. It’s sometimes a pain to deal with, but it has some benefits. Interestingly, AMD pokes at Intel’s product segmentation strategy with Core i3 and below processors not supporting advanced features like vPro.
Drawing to a close, the second-to-last slide confirms that AMD is pulling their dies for Ryzen Pro from binned batches of dies selected for the best efficiency. Given that, those Ryzen 3 Pro chips are really being undersold because everything else on the chip is 100% functional – it’s just disabled to make a better product stack.
The last slide also reiterates AMD’s stance on their support for socket AM4. Listed under “Platform Longevity”, AMD says that the socket AM4 infrastructure is to be available for four-plus years and compatible with three generations of chips: n-1, n-1, and n+1. What that translates into is that socket AM4 will be around for three chip families not including Bristol Ridge, servicing Zen, Zen 2, and Zen 3. That’s an extremely long time for a socket to last in the enterprise world, and it’s something that Intel can’t hope to boast for the near future.
This means that if you’re a system administrator buying new desktop infrastructure, it may make sense to move to socket AM4 for now, and simply upgrade the processors, the RAM, and the storage as time goes on. Getting up to six years of life from a desktop that isn’t obsolete by the second year is quite a bonus.
And, well, that’s it! Systems based on Ryzen Pro will be launching after 29 August 2017, and more information like pricing, system availability, and performance metrics will be confirmed by then as well. Impatient users are currently upgrading to regular Ryzen processors, so it will be interesting to see how much uptake AMD sees from these new products. It looks like AMD’s also on schedule with this announcement – August 2017 is still inside Q3 2017, so they’ll have a month of sales to reflect on as they head into Q4 2017.
The pattern that emerges also gives one an inkling of how AMD will be handling launches moving forward. With a product announcement a month ahead of an official rollout, we can also expect to see Ryzen 3 announced towards the end of August with a launch in September 2017. Ryzen Mobile’s announcement should be coming up soon as well, with Ryzen Mobile Pro now firmly into 2018 as AMD staggers their launches.