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AMD launches Ryzen Pro microprocessor in ambitious bid for enterprise desktop

AMD has launched the Ryzen Pro, a family of Ryzen microprocessors based on its Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 microprocessors, but with added security features aimed squarely at the enterprise market.

The launch also revealed the first details of AMD’s forthcoming Ryzen 3 microprocessors, the low-end devices that will, broadly speaking, compete with Intel’s Core i3.

The company claims that Ryzen Pro will offer “state-of-the-art silicon-level security”, providing hardware-based cryptographic and security technologies to help protect against security threats.

Security standards like secure boot, firmware Trust Platform Module (fTPM), Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption, and Windows 10 Enterprise security features are all supported across the Ryzen Pro family, claims AMD.

The chips will provide operating system and application independent DRAM encryption without requiring software modifications by using ‘transparent secure memory encryption’, as well as industry standard Secure Boot.

The company claims that they will be “certified for enterprise requirements”. What that means is that they ought to be able to run for 24 months, non-stop, on the AM4 platform designed for Ryzen. They also come with a three-year limited warranty, compared to the usual 12-month warranty standard, consumer-grade parts come with.

AMD was also keen to point out that these security features apply across the range, whereas Intel’s own vPro security isn’t available on its cheaper Core i3 microprocessors.

But perhaps the most interesting part of the launch for mainstream users, though, is what it reveals about the Ryzen 3 family, which hasn’t yet been formally released.

The two Ryzen 3 Pro parts revealed indicate a four core, four thread device with base clock speeds of either 3.1GHz or 3.5GHz, boosting to 3.4GHz and 3.7GHz respectively.

In an accompany presentation, AMD indicates that the Ryzen 3 microprocessor should outperform the Intel Core i3 in almost every respect, by between 21 per cent (in TrueCrypt benchmarks) to 67 per cent in 3DMark 11. Only in Sysmark 2014 does the Intel Core i3 outperform the Ryzen 3, according to AMD’s benchmarking.

The glimpse of the Ryzen 3 indicates, perhaps, that anyone thinking of clicking ‘buy’ on an AMD Ryzen 5 1400 part might be advised to wait a week or two before doing so – and certainly if an Intel Core i3 is on the shopping list.  

Analysis

A decade or more ago, AMD had to give up its drive to take a bigger share of the enterprise market as it simply couldn’t produce the output – and couldn’t afford the resources required to raise output – in order to satisfy the kind of output that OEMs needed in order to make a serious enterprise play. 

However, AMD separated its manufacturing facilities in the form of Globalfoundies eight years and, last year, re-negotiated its supply deal in a way that would enable it to manufacture microprocessors and GPUs with other foundries. 

That may enable AMD to ramp up production more quickly to compete with Intel, without the upfront fixed costs that used to be associated with such production hikes when the company manufactured its own products. 

There have also been criticisms of the Ryzen Pro that it doesn’t incorporate integrated graphics and will, therefore, add the expense of a graphic card to enterprise PCs. However, Ryzen microprocessors with integrated Vega-based GPUs is planned later this year and it seems highly likely that AMD will produce Ryzen Pro versions of these. 

Further reading

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