On Thursday, Advanced Micro Devices will officially begin selling its new “Ryzen” desktop processors, which promise to be its most competitive offering in a decade.
AMD’s first three Ryzen computer processors will offer substantially the same performance as rival Intel’s processors, but are less expensive, ranging from $330 to $500.
The company last week started booking pre-orders for three Ryzen chips, which are based on its new and highly-anticipated Zen architecture. The company first announced Zen two years ago.
Much of the design work on the new processor took place in Austin, and the company said it took four years and “more than 2 million engineering hours of development.”
AMD is formally based in Sunnyvale, Calif., but Austin is where the chipmaker’s senior executives mostly live and work. The company employs roughly 1,500 people in the Central Texas area.
A lot is riding on how well AMD’s Zen-based products sell. After releasing Ryzen this month, AMD plans to roll out more Zen-based chips to be used in graphics processors and servers later this year.
The Ryzen computer processors AMD releases on Thursday are aimed at the higher-end of the PC market. These chips are ideal for gaming or video editing, not for writing in Microsoft Word or surfing the Internet.
Industry analyst Patrick Moorhead said the Ryzen processors offer improved performance from AMD’s last iteration of computer processors. That means better visuals and the ability to juggle multiple open tabs and programs at once, which makes it ideal for video or photo editors.
“And it’s low-power as well,” he said. That means AMD’s high-end computer processors are similar, in terms of performance, to Intel’s for the first time in a decade, said Moorhead, who runs Austin-based Moor Insights & Strategy.
This is a big deal for AMD because Intel dominates the computer processing market.
Although PC sales have been on the decline, AMD is concentrating initially on the higher end of the market because of its high profit margins and because it is “AMD’s sweet spot historically,” Moorhead said.
“The reason why people are so excited is because it’s literally been a one-horse race for years in the high-end desktop space,” Moorhead said. “There really wasn’t any choice out there.”
Investors will get their first glimpse into how much Ryzen boosted AMD’s bottom line when the company reports its first quarter financial results.
In large part due to anticipation over Zen, AMD’s stock has more than quadrupled in price since January 2016.
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