Ryzen Pro platform brings a dash of Epyc to corporate desktops


Zen puts on a suit and tie
— 8:00 AM on June 29, 2017

At this point, it seems safe to say that AMD's Ryzen CPUs have proven a success for system builders. Today, AMD is establishing a beachhead for those chips in the corporate IT world with its Ryzen Pro platform. Ryzen Pro products blend Ryzen's performance with corporate-friendly security and manageability features, and they'll come with certain assurances regarding platform stability and availability that the consumer AM4 platform doesn't offer. The Ryzen Pro series also marks the first official appearance of AMD's long-rumored Ryzen 3 CPUs.

The Ryzen Pro lineup looks pretty similar to the Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 families of chips we're already familiar with.  Check out the base of the lineup, however, and you'll spot AMD's first official Ryzen 3 parts.

Model Cores/
threads
Base/boost
clocks (GHz)
Cache
(L2 + L3)
TDP
Ryzen 7 Pro 1700X 8/16 3.5/3.7 4+16MB 95W
Ryzen 7 Pro 1700 3.0/3.7 65W
Ryzen 5 Pro 1600 6/12 3.2/3.6 3+16MB
Ryzen 5 Pro 1500 4/8 3.5/3.7 2+16MB
Ryzen 3 Pro 1300 4/4 3.5/3.7 2+8MB
Ryzen 3 Pro 1200 3.1/3.4

These chips both look a lot like Ryzen 5 1400s with SMT disabled. The Ryzen 3 1300 boasts reasonable 3.5 GHz base and 3.7 GHz boost speeds, and AMD's Extended Frequency Range tech might let it boost even higher in lightly-threaded workloads. The Ryzen 3 1200 drops back to 3.1 GHz base and 3.4 GHz boost speeds. Both of these four-core, four-thread parts slot into 65W TDPs.

The rest of the Ryzen Pro lineup generally follows the path blazed by existing Ryzen parts. The Ryzen 5 Pro 1500 looks like a repurposed Ryzen 5 1500X, the Ryzen 5 Pro 1600 looks like a repurposed Ryzen 5 1600, and so on for the pair of Ryzen 7 Pro parts. The range-topping Ryzen 7 1800X doesn't get a Pro counterpart, however. AMD says that chip's power requirements, pricing, and performance are better suited for enthusiast battlestations than the corporate boardroom.

Of course, every Ryzen Pro chip will keep AMD's SenseMI onboard monitoring intelligence. That means Precision Boost will kick up the clocks in lightly-threaded workloads and Extended Frequency Range will let cores boost higher in those workloads, presuming sufficient cooling is present.

Every Ryzen Pro chip will still require some form of discrete graphics card as part of its host system, as well, a requirement that Intel CPUs can get around with their integrated graphics processors. AMD used the entry-level Radeon R7 240 and Radeon R7 430 as two examples of discrete cards we might find in Ryzen Pro systems. Of course, system integrators should be free to choose entry-level cards from Nvidia, as well.

Zen puts on a suit
The most interesting features of Ryzen Pro chips come from the embedded AMD Secure Processor that's integrated into each Ryzen CPU. The SP will allow Ryzen Pro chips to enjoy many of the same features available from AMD's Epyc server CPUs, including encryption of system memory through hardware and a root of trust for secure boot.

The Ryzen Pro platform will also ship with firmware Trusted Platform Module support that will conform to the TPM 2.0 standard. AMD claims these features will be available on every Ryzen Pro chip, something Intel apparently can't boast of its Core i3 parts.

Stability is the other major selling point alongside security for Ryzen Pro chips. AMD claims administrators can rely on an 18-month window of platform stability when they ready system imagees for deployment, and they'll be able to procure a given Ryzen Pro CPU for at least 24 months. AMD is also guaranteeing at least four years of availability for the AM4 platform, and it claims that socket will support "n-2, n-1, and n+1" generations of AM4-compatible CPUs. AMD further claims it'll back up Ryzen Pro systems with a three-year warranty to system integrators.

To counter Intel's proprietary vPro remote manageability suite, the Ryzen Pro platform will offer support for the open DASH remote management platform. Like vPro, DASH offers out-of-band management tools for system administrators across their corporate networks. According to the Distributed Management Task Force standards body, DASH offers KVM and console redirection, media redirection, software and firmware update capabilities, and more.

AMD did offer some performance projections for Ryzen Pro parts versus somewhat comparable Intel CPUs, although I'm not going to dive too deep into those here.

Predictably, AMD believes Ryzen Pro systems will offer big performance boosts in multithreaded and graphics-intensive tasks compared to their locked Intel competitors, although single-threaded and latency-sensitive benchmarks like Sysmark still favor Intel parts in some cases.

Given the preponderance of Office and web browsing in many corporate environments, Ryzen's slight single-threaded performance deficit and unavoidable need for a discrete GPU may not prove favorable to cost-sensitive IT directors. We'll just have to see how the TCO calculations shake out.

Today's information release only marks the beginning of AMD's elbowing into corporate IT budgets. We don't know how much Ryzen Pro CPUs and motherboards might cost, although it's unlikely most builders will choose such a platform over consumer Ryzen parts. These components seem far more likely to show up in prebuilt, warrantied desktops from Dell and HP. AMD promises we'll learn more about the Ryzen Pro ecosystem August 29.

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Tags: CPUs