It’s been about a month since AMD had a product launch, the most recent being the Threadripper 2 family that launched in August. AMD’s strategy to stagger their launches and reveals is working for them – all throughout the year there’s news about what the company is up to, whilst their competitors prefer to leave things to get crammed together in a single month. The appearance of being busy, it seems, is as important as actually doing anything, and that’s the kind of thing that grabs mind share and sways consumer opinion. Today AMD is launching another series of processors, this time for the ultra-budget range and the professional desktop.
The first announcement is the AMD Athlon 200GE. This is AMD’s entry-level budget chip, replacing what used to be the Ryzen 3 1200 with an APU instead. It’s better this way because the Ryzen 3 1200 wasn’t any competition really to the equally priced Intel Pentium G-series chips, and it lacked built-in graphics. If you wanted to use that second GPU for anything like extra monitors, or GPU-passthrough on Linux, you were out of luck.
The Athlon 200GE is an interesting chip because, like the Ryzen 3 and 5 APUs, it lacks cache and the second CCX module, using that space instead to fit in a small GPU. There are 192 GCN shader cores on offer, eight ROPs, and a small number of texture units which AMD didn’t specify. It’s not like you’re going to be playing AAA games on this setup anyway, although it would be ideal for something like a cheap emulation setup to run your PS2 and Sega classics. With a 35W TDP it is efficient enough to run passively cooled, and only costs $55 at launch.
That leads us on to the Ryzen Pro announcement for today. AMD is taking their existing Ryzen 5 and 7 lineup, along with the newly announced Athlon 200GE, and slapping the Pro name to them. This qualifies these chips to be used with AMD-certified professional motherboards and exposes additional security and management features for SME rollouts, including functionality like access to the secure enclave settings, remote power management, and stable drivers for up to 18 months. In addition, AMD guarantees these chips for a 36-month availability window, which means that you’ll be able to buy new Ryzen 5 2600 Pro chips two years from now to continue your rollouts.
While most of the specs do not change in terms of core and cache counts, it is interesting that AMD has changed the maximum boost clocks for the Ryzen 7 2700X Pro compared to the regular consumer parts. The base clock drops by 100MHz, and the boost clock drops by 200MHz, yet the TDP limit stays the same. AMD may have done this to improve the efficiency of the chip, but it does mean that the performance lead against the Intel Core i7-8700 drops a bit.
It’s not hard to see why AMD has stacked the Athlon 200GE against the Intel Pentium G4560. Both chips have four virtual threads, both have similar amounts of cache and clock speeds, and both have integrated graphics. While the single-threaded performance is 3% behind Intel’s, the Athlon 200GE is able to eke out a win in the PCMark 10 tests, and as expected will dominate in the graphics department. I wouldn’t play Far Cry 5 on it, but low settings at 720p might be doable.
Against the Intel Core i7-8700 and Core i5-8600 which are commonly sold in pre-built desktops used as workstations, AMD claims a 5% lead at a minimum, stretching that out to 33% with the Ryzen 5 2600 Pro against the Core i5-8600. That 33% lead is more or less because SMT is enabled, while the Core i5-8600 has to make do without hyper-threading. The Ryzen 7 2700X Pro, according to the slide is always ahead of the Core i7-8700 thanks to the extra two cores at its disposal.
In terms of availability, the Pro series will be available exclusively in pre-built machines branded by OEMs such as Dell, HP, Acer, and Lenovo. The Athlon 200GE Pro will feature inside small form-factor machines to take advantage of its low power and superior built-in graphics cores. The Ryzen Pro with Vega APUs will be found in more or less the same form factors, while the Ryzen Pro chips will be found in larger systems that allow you to add a discrete graphics card for more power. Only the Athlon 200GE will be available to the general public on its own, complete with an AMD Wraith Stealth cooler. Pretty neat.
And to get those system administrators excited for this release, take a look at that product stack slide. How many chips in Intel’s lineup have vPro enabled and active? Three. Just three. AMD enables their GuardMI secure platform and the remote manageability features across the board, so this might sway popular opinion as to which vendor is the better one to go with. It’s easy enough for Intel to enable vPro for their entire stack because it’s literally just a firmware flag away, but they’d rather leave that enabled on three processors in their consumer offering and the Xeon chips that use the same socket.
AMD even went into the trouble of hiring a third-party company to test out how long it takes to configure a system fully for deployment into a business environment. There is basically no difference between the CPU vendors, which I suppose is the point to this slide. It’s no more of a hassle than an Intel system.
AMD says the Athlon 200GE will launch soon and will be available for purchase at major retailers across the world, while the new Pro-series chips will be integrated into new OEM products and should start shipping in the next few months.