AMD’s CES 2020 Plans: What to expect on January 6th

AMD is all set to hold their CES conference next week on January 6th, 2020. This year, we expect Team Red to talk about a number of key developments. In a recent interview with Anandtech, Mark Papermaster, AMD’s CTO made the bold claim that they plan to beat the industry-standard 7 percent IPC improvement with every new generation. This sets the tone for the kind of announcements we’re likely to see at CES and in the months to come. So what exactly should we be looking out for come Lisa Su’s PowerPoint to rule all PowerPoints? (Xanax)

The Radeon RX 5600 XT might be formally announced

We’ve seen leaks for the 5600 XT crop up for quite some time now. With the 5500 XT (and especially its 8 GB variant) offering mediocre value at best, AMD needs something that’s performance competitive with the 1660 Super and 1660 Ti. Considering that it’s just a slightly cut-down 5700, with less memory bandwidth, we expect it to easily best the 1660 Ti and perhaps give the 2060 a run for its money in rasterization performance. If AMD is able to deliver a part like this at the $250 price-point, it’d make for a very compelling mainstream product.

The 64-Core Threadripper 3990X is announced

AMD’s chiplet design has allowed it to scale CPU costs more or less linearly with core count. Since wastage doesn’t increase exponentially with core count–as it does in monolithic designs, immense multi-core processors can be built at more or less reasonable prices. The Threadripper 3990X (which MSI accidentally leaked through a photo of Task Manager, of all things) will likely get an official announcement.

This 64-core,128 thread part isn’t likely to be the processor of choice for gaming. However, workstation users, video professionals and others will find this a useful alternative to Intel’s eye-wateringly expensive high-end Xeon lineup.

7nm Zen 2 “Renoir” For Gaming Laptops

Intel still has an advantage in the laptop space where Intel has managed to launch its first 10nm based Ice lake chips. Leveraging the Sunny Cove core, these parts deliver impressive single-core performance thanks to improved IPC and a more efficient node. However, when AMD launches the 7nm Zen 2 chips for laptops, most of this advantage will more or less disappear. Intel is still facing 10nm yield issues, and that won’t help either. We can expect gaming laptops packing 7nm Zen 2 chips and the Radeon RX 5500 GPU offering the same performance as competing Intel-NVIDIA devices for much less.

The future road map will become clearer

AMD plans on bringing the Ryzen 4000 line to market by the end of this year. We don’t know when, but CES would be a great opportunity for Team Red to give us a solid timeframe. Unfortunately, 7/7/7 isn’t going to happen because, well, 20/20/20 would break the laws of orbital physics.

Nevertheless, a Q3 2020 rollout isn’t out of the question. It’d be great to get dates. We’ll also likely hear more about second-gen Navi. Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X are set to arrive by year’s end. Both feature Navi GPUs with ray-tracing. It’s a near-certainty that their desktop equivalents will arrive before then. We’ll probably hear something or the other about second-gen Navi and hardware ray-tracing at CES. Release dates for these products? That’s less likely, but we can always hope.


Penguin-published author, and journalist. Loves PC hardware but has terrible hand-eye coordination. Most likely to be found playing Total War or watching weird Russian sitcoms.
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