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Ryzzzzzen 3000

9 July 2019

It's 2:30am. Mr Parkinson and myself are exchanging a few choice words about his effects on my sleep patterns.

After a pretty busy and tiring Monday I took the opportunity to fall into bed early, at around 7:30pm. It didn't take long to drift off into the land of Nod and all was well... for about three hours.

By 11pm however, I was sleeping only lightly; short bursts of dozing followed by ever-longer periods of staring at the ceiling.

By 2am I'd given up all hope of getting more sleep today.

So, here I am, tapping out today's column, many hours before you're likely to read it.

Damn and blast!

But those are the cards I've been dealt so those are the ones I'm playing. With luck I might catch a few winks in front of the fire in three or four hours' time but there are no guarantees, only hopes.

Enough of this self-indulgent waffle however, now it's time to talk about the subject that seems to be on every geek's lips this week: The new Ryzen 3000 CPUs, benchmarks for which have finally hit the Net.

I have to say that I'm really happy to see CPU performance bounding ahead at such a pace.

The new 3000 series CPUs that have been benchmarked this week seem to be everything we were promised by AMD.

They're faster, use less power and have a lower cost-per-MIP than ever before.

Now, for under NZ$900, you can score yourself a 12-core (yep, count them... TWELVE cores) processor with support for PCIe 4 and (finally), single-thread performance to rival (but not always match) Intel's i9 series of CPUs.

One of the most impressive things is that these processors seem to perform very well, even when used in non X570 motherboards. AMD promised backwards compatibility and so long as you don't need the PCIe 4 support that only the 570 chipset delivers, earlier motherboards seem to deliver performance levels that are only a few percent down on "state of the art".

The only hint of a problem, and it may just be "reviewer's curse", is that the 3900 being tested by the guys at the Hardware Unboxed YouTube channel seemed to up and die on them. So long as this isn't an indicator that the 7nM process still has some durability issues at this scale then the new generation of AMD processors looks set to significantly change the composition of the CPU landscape.

Right now I'm tentatively looking at the cost of a new edit system for my video work. Just 16 months ago I spent $2K on an i7 8700 system which I've since added an extra 1TB SSD and another 16GB of RAM to. The resulting system represents about $2300 of total investment for a reasonably speedy machine capable of doing a good job with HD video footage. Now that I'm shifting increasingly to 4K production, it's already starting to feel a little slow at time and so I'm planning to move to a new rig within the next 9 months. It will be very interesting to see what the same amount of money will buy in less than a year's time.

The only really expensive element remains GPUs.

The much-touted NAVI architecture from AMD seems to be a bit short on delivery right now. The two models released last month are decidedly lacklustre, even more-so now that NVIDIA has countered with its "Super" series of RTX cards.

It still grates however, that a really descent GPU (ie: RTX2080Ti) costs more than the entire rest of the computer system in which it lives. Looks as if I'll have to start doing some serious coin-saving if I'm to be able to afford the GPU I want/need for maximum productivity -- unless AMD pull a rabbit out of the hat during that time.

Of course by the time I'm ready to build this new rig, the next generation of AMD threadripper CPUs will likely be out so a whole new set of options will be available. On the plus side however, I'll have a much better handle on the pros/cons and relative value that the 3000 series CPUs really offer.

Meanwhile, I really need to order that RPi 4 and have some fun.

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