AMD Confirms Ryzen For Early March Launch And Vega For Q2 Arrival On Earnings Call

We now have a slightly better idea as to when AMD will launch its forthcoming Ryzen processors. The previously announced March time frame has now been narrowed down to "early March," according AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su, who provided the update during the company's fourth quarter earnings call on Tuesday afternoon. Dr. Su also promised "widespread system and channel availability" of Ryzen on its day of release.

That is good news for buyers who are waiting on Ryzen to arrive. Assuming Dr. Su is correct about there being widespread availability on day one, it means this will not be a paper launch where a small batch of inventory sells out fast followed by a prolonged shortage. It is also good news for AMD, which observed its processor sales decline in the fourth quarter compared to a year ago as potential buyers hold out for Ryzen.

AMD Ryzen

"Desktop processor sales increased sequentially and declined from a year ago, in advance of our Ryzen desktop processor launch this quarter," Dr. Su said. "At CES, we highlighted broad design win in ecosystem momentum for Ryzen. 17 different system integrators unveiled Ryzen-based gaming and enthusiast systems and multiple ecosystem partners announced plans to offer a broad range of premium Ryzen motherboards. We have also secured a number of high-end design wins for Ryzen with our global OEMs."

The big deal with Ryzen is that it marks a return for AMD to the high-end market, a place it has not really competed in for a long time. Dr. Su said there is "no question" that Ryzen will layer on top of its existing processors and compete well with Intel's Core i7 and Core i5 range of processors.

Vega Diagram

In addition to Ryzen, AMD will be launching a new graphics architecture called Vega in the second quarter of this year. Like Ryzen, AMD expects Vega to make the company a competitive force in the high-end market.

"If you look at our product lineup in the first half of the year, I think we have Ryzen launching in early March and then we'll have Vega, our enthusiast GPU launching in the second quarter and so, as we go through the year, I think we're quite pleased with the performance that we are seeing on both of those products," Dr. Su added. "And so, we should see Ryzen doing very well in the high end as well as Vega and by nature, since both of those high end markets are markets that we don't have significant presence today, there will be an opportunity to both gain share as well as increase attach rates in those markets."

Vega will bring with it a new geometry pipeline that is tuned for more performance and better efficiency than Polaris. It will also feature a new Compute Unit design and a revamped pixel engine, along with High Bandwidth Cache, which is the name AMD is giving to the second generation high bandwidth memory (HBM2) attached to Vega. All of this is expected to add up to a significant bump in performance.