Update April 20, 2018: The first AMD Ryzen 2 processors launched yesterday, but the Ryzen 7 2800X was nowhere to be seen. But that doesn't mean it's not potentially waiting in the wings, with AMD's Jim Anderson annoucing at a pre-launch event it could well appear "someday."
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At the pre-launch event in London Jim Anderson was asked why they had decided to use the Ryzen 7 2700X as the top model released in the first wave of Pinnacle Ridge processors.
"We felt like, with the 2700X and 2700 at the performance and price points, we had that space covered," explains Anderson. "We just felt that with those two SKUs we had it sufficiently covered where we wanted to position the product."
And AMD have got that space covered well, with the 2700X making it essentially impossible to recommend the competing Core i7 8700K.
"That doesn’t preclude a 2800X someday, right, maybe," Anderson continues cryptically. "But for now we believe those two SKUs cover the space well.”
For now. That's not necessarily going to be the case if, as expected, Intel launch their own mainstream octa-core CPU before the end of the year. So if, in the future, AMD feel they don't have that space covered they'll have a Ryzen 7 2800X ready to roll in and give Intel another headache.
Original story April 13, 2018: The pinnacle of the AMD Ryzen 2 range isn’t appearing at launch, with the Ryzen 7 2800X being kept in reserve. Maybe AMD knows something about what Intel have got planned…
AMD have just announced the pre-order pricing for the first batch of second-gen Ryzen processors, built on the advanced 12nm Zen+ design, but there is something missing from the list. Last year the Ryzen 7 1800X lead the line as the very top-end of the new AMD processor range, but for this new generation of chips there’s nothing above the new Ryzen 2700X.
The Ryzen 7 2700X is a $329 eight-core, 16-thread processor, with a 3.7GHz base clockspeed and a peak 4.3GHz boost clock. It’s also rocking a mighty 105W TDP to be able to get up to those frequency heights. The old 1800X, on the other hand, tapped out at 4GHz, and struggled to offer much more in the overclocking stakes.
So, in a way, you can understand why AMD have stopped at the 2700X. It’s much faster than the old peak Ryzen, and will likely deliver better performance for less than its original price. Though they could have easily just called that chip the 2800X and no-one would have flapped an eyelid.
What gives then? Well, there’s an AMD vs. Intel CPU-based bun-fight a-brewing.
After the Intel reaction to Ryzen last year, where they started panic-announcing more and more cores than we’ve had chicken dinners, it’s no surprise AMD are keeping something back in reserve for the inevitable backlash.
At the moment all Intel have got to compete are the Core i7 8700K and Core i5 8600K in the Intel Coffee Lake range, and they can only go up to six cores, with no eight-core chips available until you get up into expensive Skylake-X territory. But if there isn’t a mainstream 14nm Intel eight-core popping up before the end of the year I’ll eat an Optane SSD stick. There have been engineering samples seemingly spotted in benchmark databases here and there too.
And if it’s not going to be sold as a Core i9 someone in Intel’s marketing division needs sacking.
The Ryzen 7 2800X, then, is just parked in orbit above us, waiting to see what Intel do with the potential octacore that surely has to come in order to encourage anyone to buy a Z390 motherboard. Seriously, no-one’s going to touch that thing if all they can say about it is that it’s got native USB 3.1 support. And honestly, right now that’s all anyone can say about the next Intel chipset.
But if it can offer exclusive support (whether legitimately or artificially) for an eight-core Coffee Lake Core i9, with future support for the 9th Gen Intel processors as has been mooted, then it might just be able to carve out a little niche for itself.
Word on the street - there’s a little shoeshine I go to in Santa Clara who gives me the goss - is that the Z370 chipset was only meant to be a six-month stop gap measure to be able to get the early Coffee Lake processors out the door last year. The Z390 was then meant to arrive at the same time as the H370 and B360 boards this year… because then all the updated LGA 1151 boards could ‘boast’ native USB 3.1. Apparently that’s important.
It sounds like the motherboard makers didn’t take kindly to the thought of the Z370 only having a six month shelf-life and Intel pushed the Z390 release way back.
So, with the Z390 arriving at the end of the year, potentially with a Core i9 K-series, I wouldn’t expect AMD to bother landing the Ryzen 7 2800X until then. To be honest, with the specs of the 2700X, that’s probably not going to be a problem.