AMD’s Ryzen 7000 CPUs Break the 5GHz Barrier – and Need a New Motherboard

This fall, AMD is planning a clear break with the past, and it thinks you… need for speed maybe convince them to do the same. Today at Computex 2022, the company unveiled the key facets of its next-generation Ryzen 7000 desktop CPUs, their Zen 4 architecture and — for the first time in five years — a brand new kind of must-buy motherboard. While even some of the company’s oldest AM4 motherboards can be updated to support its latest Ryzen 5000 series desktop CPUs, the upcoming Ryzen 7000 requires AM5.

As the company told us in January, the Ryzen 7000 are the first PC chips based on a 5nm process, and the AM5 motherboard platform is designed to support DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 out of the box.

But there’s a fifth “five” in the mix: AMD says Ryzen 7000 chips will be able to boost north of 5GHz, the company’s first desktop chips to do so. AMD showed a clock speed of 5.5 GHz during its Computex presentation while playing Ghostwire: Tokyomatching the 5.5GHz turbo of Intel’s Core i9-12900KSNot that megahertz means much in terms of performance per se — both Intel and AMD have plenty of laptop chips that can turbo up to 5GHz as well, and that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re faster at tasks than a lower-clocked desktop CPU.

AMD CEO Lisa Su holds up a Ryzen 7000.
Screenshot by Sean Hollister / The Verge

Which should really make a difference: Between increased clock speed and generation-to-generation process improvements, Zen 4 will also have “more than 15 percent” faster single-threaded performance than Zen 3 (single-thread is still the most important metric for many apps, especially games). However, the new chips can also have a higher power consumption: the new AM5 motherboards can now give the chips up to 170 W of power, of a reported 142W earlier.

Image: AMD

Beneath the unusual tower-shaped lid of a Ryzen 7000, you can still see three chiplets: two 5nm Zen 4 CPU modules, as well as a new 6nm I/O chip that now integrates RDNA 2 graphics, DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 controllers, and built-in power management. Intriguingly, AMD marketing director Robert Hallock says every Ryzen 7000 chip will have some of those integrated graphics, so you only need a video card if you need the extra muscle for work or gaming. Integrated graphics aren’t exactly rare on Intel or AMD desktop CPUs, but it wasn’t a guarantee.

Another guarantee: At least one fast PCIe 5.0 NVMe storage slot will be standard on every AM5 motherboard tier AMD is announcing today, including the new X670 Extreme, X670, and even the more affordable B650 (note we don’t have actual pricing yet) . AMD says it’s already seeing 60 percent faster improvements in sequential read speed, the sort of thing that could give us the mythical 1-second load times that Microsoft’s DirectStorage promises (but won’t necessarily deliver on day one).

Image: AMD

PCIe Gen 5 graphics support is not guaranteed, it depends on the level: you definitely get it with an X670 Extreme motherboard, it’s optional for OEMs to include it on an X670, and you definitely won’t get it with a B650, where your long x16 PCIe slot will be PCIe Gen 4 instead.

Regardless of the level, AM5 offers 24 lanes of PCIe 5.0 bandwidth and says these motherboards will have up to 14 USB 3.x ports (I’m guessing AMD doesn’t specify which standard because the official naming is a mess), some which will support 20 Gbps and USB-C. you also get until four display outputs on your motherboard itself, and manufacturers can equip them with HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 2.

ASRock, Asus, Biostar, Gigabyte and MSI will all have AM5 motherboards, as you would expect.

A handful of the first AM5 motherboards.
Image: AMD

Will this also be enough to lure enthusiasts and gamers away from AMD’s existing AM4 platform, which was so successful in luring so many of them away from Intel? Hard to say, but it’s also hard to blame AMD for moving on. The company has had five different CPU architectures fit into the AM4 socket over the past five years, rather than asking all those CPU buyers to add a new motherboard, and even now it promises to continue support. “We want to keep AM4 going into the future so people can continue to take advantage of this great platform,” says Hallock.

And you don’t have to give away all your AM4 gear if you upgrade to an AM5 desktop PC: AMD designed the new socket and chip to work fine with existing AM4 CPU coolers.

AMD isn’t talking about specific chips you can buy today, but says it will trickle out more details in the summer ahead of its fall release.