When Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) launched the first batch of its Raptor Lake PC CPUs, it was clear Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ: AMD) was in trouble. Intel’s chips not only beat AMD’s Ryzen 7000 series chips in single-threaded, multi-threaded, and gaming workloads, but they did so at lower prices. While AMD hasn’t officially cut prices, its Ryzen 7000 chips have been selling at prices well below MSRP (manufacturers suggested retail price) since mid-November.
AMD does have one trick up its sleeve: Its innovative 3D V-Cache technology. AMD’s first attempt at a 3D V-Cache chip was a mixed bag. The 5800X3D was the fastest gaming chip when it launched last year but suffered greatly in some non-gaming workloads. This time around, the company seems to have figured out a way to minimize the downsides.
Putting data close to the CPU
AMD announced three new 3D V-Cache chips on Wednesday, although pricing was not disclosed. The 8-core 7800X3D, the 12-core 7900X3D, and the 16-core 7950X3D make up AMD’s second round of chips using this technology.
3D V-Cache allows AMD to stack additional memory on top of the processor. While PCs typically have many gigabytes of random-access memory, this memory is much slower to access than the ultra-fast memory used for caching built into CPUs. High-end CPUs typically have 10s of megabytes of cache memory.
A sure-fire way to speed up an application is by putting as much data as possible into the CPU cache. The more cache memory there is, the more data can be copied over and the less time the CPU spends waiting to access slower system memory. In applications like gaming that are data-heavy, a bigger cache can unlock huge performance gains.
This is the premise behind AMD’s 3D V-Cache chips. These three new chips are essentially standard Ryzen 7000 chips with an additional 64MB of cache memory, lower power envelopes to keep temperatures in check, and slightly lower clock speeds. The chips won’t be available until February but should deliver incredible gaming performance.
The big problem with AMD’s first 3D V-Cache chip was that performance in any application that didn’t make heavy use of the cache suffered. The 5800X3D sported lower clock speeds than standard chips, so single-threaded performance was lackluster. And because it was forced to use less power, multi-threaded performance was limited, as well.
AMD has mostly fixed the first problem with its new 3D V-Cache chips. Base clock speeds are still a few hundred megahertz lower than AMD’s standard Ryzen CPUs, but boost clock speeds are now identical. While single-threaded performance will likely still be a bit lower, the gap should be much smaller this time around.
Multi-threaded performance may still be a problem, though, because these 3D V-Cache chips have lower power limits. We’ll have to wait for third-party reviews to see how much progress AMD has made on that front.
AMD could steal the gaming crown
Intel’s Raptor Lake processors are the champs when it comes to gaming performance, but AMD may be able to surpass Raptor Lake next month with its 3D V-Cache chips. However, Intel isn’t sitting still.
Intel is reportedly planning a variant of its highest-end Raptor Lake processor, the 13900KS, which runs at a higher base clock and sports a boost clock of 6GHz out of the box. Those higher frequencies will provide greater single-threaded performance, which is critical for games. That may not be enough to overcome AMD’s 3D V-Cache tech but will certainly close any gap.
AMD’s 3D V-Cache chips will be more expensive than its standard Ryzen chips. While performance may top the competition, the price-to-performance may be a different story. We’ll know more next month when AMD officially launches these new gaming powerhouse chips.
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Timothy Green has positions in Intel. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Advanced Micro Devices and Intel. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2023 $57.50 calls on Intel, long January 2025 $45 calls on Intel, and short January 2025 $45 puts on Intel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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