AMD's (AMD) shares jumped a month ago when the company first unveiled its third-gen Ryzen desktop CPU family, and leaked performance tests haven't done much to temper expectations among either investors or PC enthusiasts.
Recent benchmarks published by a Spanish tech news site showed AMD's 6-core, Ryzen 5 3600 CPU, which will retail for $199 when it goes on sale on July 7, nearly holding its own against Intel's (INTC) 8-core, Core i9-9900K CPU, which retails for $499, in benchmarks testing gaming and single-core performance. With the help of its two extra CPU cores, the 9900K still comfortably outperforms the 3600 in multi-core tests, but the 3600 manages to slightly win multi-core battles against Intel's 8-core, Core i7-9700K CPU, which retails for $374.
Enthusiasm about both AMD's third-gen Ryzen desktop CPUs and its upcoming, second-gen, Epyc server CPUs are key reasons why AMD's shares are up 67% in 2019. On Thursday, AMD rose 2.7% to $30.74, and Intel fell 1.5% to $47.46, after Wedbush Securities launched coverage on AMD with an Outperform rating and on Intel with an Underperform rating.
The Spanish site's results generally fit with leaked benchmarks that were published a few days after the third-gen Ryzen desktop family, which leverages Taiwan Semiconductor's (TSM) cutting-edge, 7-nanometer (7nm) manufacturing process as well as a revamped CPU core architecture known as Zen 2, was first revealed at the Computex trade show. Those tests showed the 3600 and 9700K delivering fairly similar performance, with the 9700K moderately ahead in single-core tests and the processors splitting the multi-core tests.
Separately, a benchmark showed an unnamed, 16-core, AMD CPU -- possibly an upcoming product for its Ryzen Threadripper family of workstation/enthusiast CPUs -- easily beating Intel's 18-core, Core i9-9980XE workstation CPU, which retails for $1,999, in single-core and multi-core tests. The unnamed AMD chip's CPU clock speeds are a little different than those of AMD's 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X CPU, which was unveiled earlier this month at the E3 gaming conference -- its base CPU clock speed is lower than the 3950X's, but its turbo speed is higher. Nonetheless, given that the 3950X ("expected" to be available in September) will retail for just $749, the test results bode well for both the 3950X's price/performance and that of AMD's third-gen Threadripper CPUs.
Though AMD hasn't revealed its third-gen Threadripper lineup yet, CEO Lisa Su indicated at Computex that new Threadripper parts are being prepped. A recent rumor suggested that the CPUs will arrive in Q4, and that they'll include a massive, 64-core, Threadripper CPU (Threadripper currently tops out at 32 cores).
In its own demos, AMD has shown the Ryzen 9 3950X beating Intel's Core i9-7960X CPU, which has 16 cores and sells online for around $1,500, when running multiple popular benchmarks. It has also shown $329 and $499 Ryzen CPUs outperforming, respectively, the $499 and $1,189 Intel CPUs in content-creation benchmarks.
However, given the general tendency of chip companies to show performance demos that put their products in the best possible light, having a slew of leaked third-party tests emerge that also suggest AMD's next-gen Ryzen desktop and Threadripper CPUs will deliver a lot of bang for the buck is definitely encouraging. We should know more by July 7, as detailed reviews for the Ryzen desktop CPUs that were unveiled at Computex -- they will sell for $199 to $499, and feature 6 to 12 cores -- are published.
Intel doesn't appear to be standing idly by as AMD rolls out its third-gen Ryzen CPUs. The chip giant was recently reported to be planning price cuts of 10% to 15% for its 8th-gen and 9th-gen desktop CPUs. Such moves would fit with earnings call remarks made in January by CEO Bob Swan that hinted Intel would be willing to cut PC and server CPU prices in 2019 to protect its market share.
In the notebook CPU market, Intel still looks well-positioned to hold its own in the near-to-intermediate term. AMD isn't expected to launch third-gen chips for its Ryzen Mobile notebook processor family before 2020. And later this year, Intel will be rolling out next-gen notebook processors that rely on its delayed 10nm manufacturing process (seen as competitive with TSMC's 7nm process) and a new microarchitecture known as Ice Lake.
In addition, Intel's end-to-end notebooks efforts, which include innovative solutions for small-form-factor devices and collaborations with PC OEMs and others to improve system performance and battery life, strengthen its hand in the notebook market, which accounts for a solid majority of PC shipments.
But in the desktop and workstation markets, even after taking into account Intel's reported countermeasures, AMD has a clear opportunity to take share in the coming months, judging by what's currently known about its next-gen offerings in this space.