AMD announces Zen 5 and the Ryzen 9000 series, with a 16% IPC uplift shipping in July

It’s been less than two years since the Zen 4 CPU architecture was launched but progress waits for nobody; today at the Computex 2024 event AMD announced its new Zen 5 design. The new Ryzen 9000 series of desktop processors will ship in July with an average IPC uplift of 16% compared to their predecessors.

At first glance, Zen 5 doesn’t seem to be much different to Zen 4. The compute chiplets (CCDs, Core Complex Dies) still have eight cores, all sharing 32MB of L3 cache. The top-end Ryzen models still sport two CCDs, so you won’t be getting more than 16 cores and 32 threads in a standard gaming PC. Even the clock speeds haven’t increased in this new generation.

And yet, AMD reckons that the new Ryzen 9 9950X, the direct successor to the Ryzen 9 7950X, offers 16% more performance on average, with the likes of Blender being up to 23% faster—all despite having an identical number of cores, threads, cache, and clock speeds.

You can see more detail about the specific changes that deliver this ~16% IPC bump in my Zen 5 architecture dive but suffice it to say, while they look quite minor on paper, they’re actually pretty significant. AMD is adamant that Zen 5 is “not a trivial update” and that it is, in fact, “a sweeping update.” We’ll know for sure once the independent reviews come in, of course.

AMD’s figures for the IPC uplift in Zen 5 are for the Ryzen 9 9950X flagship but you should expect to see improvements across the whole series, especially with the new Ryzen 7 9700X and Ryzen 5 9600X, as these also have minor increases to the maximum boost clock.

What isn’t clear at this point is what process node the CCDs are being manufactured on—still over at TSMC’s foundries, so it will be either N5 or N4—but it is interesting to note that the default TDP (thermal design power) limits for the lower-spec 9000 chips are much lower than their Zen 4 equivalents. Whether that means they’ll be easier to overclock is another matter, but it is good to see power limits going down, rather than up, for a change.

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AMD Ryzen 9000-series vs Ryzen 7000-series
CPU model Architecture Cores / threads Max boost clock Total L2+L3 cache Default TDP
Ryzen 9 9950X Zen 5 16 / 32 5.7 GHz 80MB 170 W
Ryzen 9 7950X Zen 4 16 / 32 5.7 GHz 80MB 170 W
Ryzen 9 9900X Zen 5 12 / 24 5.6 GHz 76MB 120 W
Ryzen 9 7900X Zen 4 12 / 24 5.6 GHz 76MB 170 W
Ryzen 7 9700X Zen 5 8 / 16 5.5 GHz 40MB 65 W
Ryzen 7 7700X Zen 4 8 / 16 5.4 GHz 40MB 105 W
Ryzen 5 9600X Zen 5 6 / 12 5.4 GHz 38MB 65 W
Ryzen 5 7600X Zen 4 6 / 12 5.3 GHz 38MB 105 W

It will certainly mean they’ll be easier and cheaper to keep cool and the 65W Ryzen 9 7900 I have in one of my test rigs is one of the coolest running CPUs I have right now. It’s also barely any slower than the 170W Ryzen 9 7900X, so the new 9700X and 9600X could be serious contenders for the best gaming CPUs for SFF builds and, well, anyone really.

All of the new Ryzen 9000 processors will use the AM5 socket but AMD also announced two new motherboard chipsets to complement the Zen 5 architecture. The X870 and X870E both support USB4 and PCIe 5.0 graphics cards and SSDs as standard, along with higher EXPO DDR5 memory speeds. How much faster is, again, not entirely clear but I suspect that it will go from the current DDR5-5200 to DDR5-5600, perhaps even 6000.

At the moment, it’s not clear what differences there are between the two chipsets, but it’s most probably going to be the number of additional ports and M.2 sockets on offer, the E-version having a lot more connectivity options than the standard X870.

If you were hoping to see 3D V-cache variants launch alongside the main chips, I’m afraid there was no sign of them in the announcement, but that’s par for the course with AMD chip launches. There was a big gap between the Zen 4 announcement and the launch of the Ryzen 9 7950X3D, so it’ll probably be the same here.

The best part of the Zen 5 and Ryzen 9000 series announcement is that we won’t have to wait very long to see just how good the new CPUs are, as everything will commence shipping in July. Once we get our hands on them, we’ll give them a thorough testing, of course, and let you know just how good Zen 5 really is.

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