The value proposition of AMD's Ryzen 7 lineup of eight-core processors in highly-threaded workloads is pretty clear-cut. It's harder to say the same about the CPUs' bang-for-buck in gaming when compared to Intel's Kaby Lake offerings. AMD has promised to work with game developers to improve performance of popular titles on Ryzen chips, and the company says progress has been made on this front. Additionally, AMD says it will soon ship microcode updates to motherboard vendors that should improve performance and prevent system instability in certain conditions.
On the software front, AMD says it has worked with Stardock and Oxide Games to improve performance in technology-demo-slash-real-time-strategy-game Ashes of the Singularity, and with Valve Software to increase minimum-FPS performance in Dota 2. Setting aside the incomplete picture of performance provided by average FPS and minimum FPS figures, AMD says its tweaks increase average FPS in Ashes on Ryzen by somewhere between 15-30% depending on the type of test. Ryzen minimum frame rates in Dota 2 rose by almost 15% after some optimization work.
PC Perspective tested the Ashes patch and saw performance jumps similar to AMD's claims on Ryzen chips. The patch didn't change performance on an Intel Core i7-6900K tested for comparison. We must note that Intel's chips still deliver the highest performance figures in Ashes, though, even after the Ryzen-focused update.
AMD will soon issue a 126.96.36.199 microcode update for Ryzen CPUs, as well. This revision claims to decrease DRAM latency by up to 6 ns, prevent system instability when Ryzen chips execute "unusual FMA3" code, correct a clock speed reporting bug, and eliminate the need for the High-Precision Event Timer when using AMD Ryzen Master. AMD says BIOSes incorporating the new microcode will start showing up in early April, though update times will vary from boardmaker to boardmaker. The company goes on to say that another microcode update scheduled for release in May will "focus on overclocked DDR4 memory," which has been something of a sore spot for the platform.
If AMD can unlock similar performance gains in a wide variety of titles to those it's achieved in Ashes of the Singularity, the value proposition of all Ryzen chips in gaming workloads could improve quite a bit. Similarly, if the company can deliver on improved performance, stability, and compatibility through microcode updates, Ryzen will only become more appealing. Time will tell.
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