AMD says Ryzen CPUs are performing as expected after launch


— 5:43 PM on March 13, 2017

In the wake of AMD's Ryzen launch, intrepid builders, hackers, and reviewers at PC hardware sites around the web have shared data that purport to explain performance deltas between Ryzen CPUs and their competition from Intel in some applications. Those explorations have raised concerns about Ryzen's simultaneous multi-threading (SMT) implementation, interactions between Ryzen's core layout and the Windows 10 scheduler, and to a lesser degree, the chip's Turbo behavior. That growing clamor has had many, myself included, waiting for some kind of official response, and now we have one.

Just a little under two weeks from launch, AMD says that Ryzen is working just fine for the most part, and that no major changes should be expected in Windows or elsewhere to correct perceived performance issues—especially those observed by some testers in Windows 7 versus Windows 10. Instead, the company says it's working with developers to deliver "targeted optimizations" for software that "can better utilize the topology and capabilities of [AMD's] new CPU."

The company also says it's aware of "many small changes that can improve Ryzen performance in certain applications," and that it's investigating some games that appear to exhibit performance regressions when Ryzen's SMT is turned on. AMD thinks those outliers can be fixed with "simple changes that can improve a game's understanding of the 'Zen' core/cache topology," although those fixes don't have a definite ETA. That attitude is consistent with PC Perspective's take that there will be "no silver bullet" for improving Ryzen performance.

AMD's most concrete advice for Ryzen owners experiencing what they perceive as less-than-ideal performance is to click over to Windows' power settings and to enable the High Performance power plan, which the company says will reduce core-parking behavior and allow for faster frequency response when apps require it. The company says that optimizations for the default Balanced profile that are better suited to Ryzen desktop CPUs will be made available through an AMD-provided update by the first week of April.

Not to be too smug about it, but AMD's statements about Ryzen CPUs' performance bolsters my confidence that we delivered sound numbers about these chips' performance from day one. We didn't see anything out of the ordinary from our test numbers at the time of publication, and our only complaints about the platform stemmed from some teething issues with motherboard firmware that Gigabyte has addressed with frequent updates since. Should AMD point out a specific application in our test suite from which we should expect significant performance changes, we'll retest it. Until that point, however, our basic conclusion—that Ryzen is a superb value for heavy-duty productivity and a solid gaming chip, to boot—will stand.

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