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For quite a long time, Intel has been on top of the processor game, as AMD worked endlessly to try and keep up – while Intel kept raising prices. However, now that Ryzen has been on the market for almost a year now, that’s all changed. AMD’s 14nm CPUs launched in late 2016 and came out to the public in mid 2017, offering high core counts and greater multi-thread performance – while still maintaining AMD’s famously low prices. AMD delivered.

Last year, AMD released hit after hit, back to back, starting with the Ryzen 7 1800X, which was a stunning return to form, as AMD breathed new life into the stagnating processor market, effectively bringing back competition, and more importantly, consumer choice. As time went on, we were even more impressed by the Ryzen 5 1600X for its unparalleled price-to-performance ratio, and were similarly blown away by the cheap Ryzen 3 1300X. Later, AMD dropped its high-end Ryzen Threadripper 1950X, bringing core counts into the high teens at a price that hurt Intel where it counts.

Ryzen saw AMD scoring big pretty much across the board, and has seen record sales as a result. Wo what’s next? Well, we’ve already started to see leaks for AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation CPUs. AMD has already shared some of its plans for this new generation, so if you’re in the market for a PC upgrade this year and want something with enough power to play the best PC games, create content and more, here’s a look at what’s coming very soon. 

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? AMD’s upgraded, budget-friendly processor chips
  • When is it out? The first chips should launch in April 2018
  • What will it cost? TBD

AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation release date

You won’t have to wait much longer to get your hands on the new AMD chips. The first generation Ryzen CPUs started shipping in March 2017 and were rolling out regularly throughout 2017 and early 2018. And now, thanks to some preorder leaks, we might see Ryzen 2nd Generation chips launch on April 19.

The company’s official timeline, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, shows the first Ryzen 2nd Generation CPUs launching in the second quarter of the year, which a press release narrowed down to April 2018. That’ll be for the consumer-level chips, which provide impressive performance for sometimes-startling prices compared to their Intel counterparts.

Beyond those chips, the timeline points to releases for both the 2nd Generation Ryzen Pro and Ryzen Threadripper chips during the second half of the year. Ryzen Pro chips are designed for business and IT usage, with up to 8 cores and 16 threads, while the aforementioned Ryzen Threadripper is the big daddy of AMD’s offerings with 16 cores for die-hard gamers. Forbes reports that AMD plans to release a similar number of Ryzen 2nd Generation chips as last year.

Those are all desktop chips, mind you – AMD’s official 2nd Generation rollout timeline doesn’t include laptop versions on the 2018 calendar. It does show first-generation Ryzen 3 mobile chips out during the first quarter of the year, with Ryzen Pro following in Q2.

AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation price

While AMD announced its Ryzen 2nd Generation plans, we unfortunately don’t have any details on pricing at this time. However, this is where AMD made such a big splash with the first Ryzen models. Granted, delivering more affordable CPUs has always been AMD’s edge, but for the first time in years, the cheaper Ryzen chips could honestly hang with, if not surpass, Intel’s offerings.

Given that, we would be surprised to see AMD continue its course with the 2nd Generation models. It’s imperative that they deliver affordable, high-performance CPUs, so ideally we would see prices that aren’t too far off from what AMD asked for the last time around.

Last year, the quad-core Ryzen 3 1300X debuted at $129 (£112, AU$169), while Intel’s Core i3 7350K went for $149 (£169, AU$299). Bump up to the hexa-core Ryzen 5 1600X, and we saw it offered for $249 (£249, AU$359) – compare that to the quad-core Intel Core i5-7600K at $239 (£219, AU$339), although you lose a couple of cores in the process.

We saw the biggest price difference with the Ryzen 7 1800X, which at $499 (£500, around AU$650) was nearly half the price of Intel’s Core i7-5960X/6900K. Of course, this lead to Intel introducing a more affordable Intel Core i7-8700K and Intel Core i7-7820X. Meanwhile, the AMD Threadripper 1950X came in at $999 (£999, AU$1,439) and delivered even stronger performance than Intel’s like-priced Core i9-7900X.

Of course, AMD recently dropped its Ryzen prices across the board alongside the 2nd Generation announcement, keeping things competitive with Intel as the two companies wage war for your CPU-buying dollars.

AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation specs

At this point, we only have a few official details when it comes to exactly what kind of performance boost we’ll see from the Ryzen 2nd Generation chips. They’re built using a new 12-nanometer process, which will cram in even more transistors and thus provide more raw speed along the way.

According to ExtremeTech, AMD chief technology officer Mark Papermaster claims that the 12nm process results in an approximately 10% performance increase over the original Ryzen’s 14nm process, “with additional opportunities to optimize performance per watt.”

We could also see Ryzen 2nd Generation CPUs that will do away with the need for GPUs for anyone playing older games or eSports titles that focus on speed rather than sheer graphical output. If the first set of Ryzen APUs – including the Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G – are any indication, the company’s ‘discrete class’ Vega graphics pack an incredible punch.

AMD says that the Ryzen 2nd Generation chips will be the smallest and fastest desktop processors to date – lofty promises, but ones that are sure to excite PC enthusiasts and users of all stripes. Ryzen 2nd Generation chips will deliver higher clock speeds and introduce the enhanced Precision Boost 2 technology to boost performance during high-drain scenarios. 

Recent leaks about the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X suggest we’ll see a 300MHz boost over its Ryzen 1700X predecessor. The alleged spec sheet reveals a CPU that clocks up to 3.7GHz and boosts up to 4.1GHz – plus XFR 2.0 taking overclocks farther to 4.2GHz.

All the while, the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X is said to retain its current 8-core and 16-thread count. If the rumors are true, this could mean the end of Intel’s higher clock-speed advantage.

AMD has a very technical primer on Precision Boost 2 from its Ryzen Mobile Processor with Radeon Vega Graphics, in case you want to dig into the specs.

We’ve seen some SenseMi improvements in AMD’s recent Ryzen-based desktop APUs, so it stands to reason that we’ll see similar performance and efficiency increases in the Ryzen 2nd Generation line. That could include optimized power usage through Pure Power smart sensors and improved overclocking potential from Extended Frequency Range 2.

And there’s some good news for prospective upgraders: unlike Intel, AMD will keep the same AM4 socket as the last Ryzen chips, so you won’t need to buy a new motherboard to slot one of these CPUs into your machine. There will also be an enhanced X470 chipset that’s optimized for Ryzen 2nd Generation and claims lowered power consumption, as well.

Note that AMD is calling the heart of the Ryzen 2nd Generation a Zen+ core, rather than the Zen 2. What’s the difference? Well, Zen 2 will be an entirely new architecture built on a 7nm process, which – as you can imagine – could provide a world of difference when it comes to performance boost.

AMD’s roadmap shows the Zen 2 and Zen 3 (listed at “7nm+”) cores coming somewhere between the release of the Zen+ and the year 2020, so that’s more likely to appear in 2019.

Zen 2 design is reportedly complete at this point, and it “improves on Zen in multiple dimensions” according to AMD. And the Zen 3 is “on track,” as well. AMD could be primed to shake up the CPU industry all over again with the Zen 2, but that’s not what we’ll see this year: Zen+ is what’s powering the Ryzen 2nd Gen chips.

Even so, there’s plenty of reason to get excited for the Ryzen 2nd Generation CPUs, especially if you are (or will be) in the market for a new or upgraded PC in 2018. Now that Intel is on the defensive, though, we’ll see whether AMD is able to repeat its surprising feat from last year.

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