Understanding AMD Processor Names

Introduction

As you probably know if you read my blog or follow me on Twitter, I am a pretty big fan of AMD processors. AMD now has modern, competitive processors in every single market segment. Unfortunately, understanding AMD processor names is more difficult than it should be. This post is meant to reduce this confusion.

The History of Zen

AMD announced their Zen microarchitecture on August 17, 2016. The first actual Zen-based processors were released in March of 2017. So far, there have been four generations of the Zen microarchitecture. The fourth generation (Zen 3) was released on November 5, 2020.

Unfortunately, AMD started this confusion with the names of the successive Zen generations. The actual names are Zen, Zen+, Zen 2 and Zen 3. They could have used Zen 1, Zen 2, Zen 3, and Zen 4. Another choice would have been Zen, Zen 2, Zen 3, and Zen 4.

Here are the generations, their names and when they were first released.

  • First Generation: 14nm Zen released in March of 2017
  • Second Generation: 12nm Zen+ released in April of 2018
  • Third Generation: 7nm Zen 2 released in July of 2019
  • Fourth Generation: 7nm Zen 3 released in November 2020

This reminds me of when Microsoft had their ill-fated penchant for using R2 in their product names, such as SQL Server 2008 R2. That decision caused an untold amount of needless confusion over they years! AMD probably used Zen+ because 12nm Zen+ was a relatively minor update to the original 14nm Zen microarchitecture. This was similar to a Tick in the old Intel Tick-Tock release cycle.

Understanding AMD Processor Names
AMD CPU Roadmap

AMD Mainstream Desktop CPUs

For AMD mainstream desktop CPUs, the SKU naming goes like this:

  • First Generation Zen: Ryzen 1000 Series “Summit Ridge”
  • Second Generation Zen+: Ryzen 2000 Series “Pinnacle Ridge”
    • Example: Ryzen 7 2700X
  • Third Generation Zen 2: Ryzen 3000 Series “Matisse”
    • Example: Ryzen 7 3700X
  • Fourth Generation Zen 3: Ryzen 5000 Series “Vermeer”
    • Example: Ryzen 9 5900X

Here is a list of 4th Generation, Zen 3 mainstream desktop processors.

AMD Mainstream Desktop Zen 3 Processors

Here are my Amazon affiliate links for 4th Generation, Zen 3 mainstream desktop processors. Unfortunately, they are still pretty difficult to get.

Here is a list of 3rd Generation, Zen 2 mainstream desktop processors.

Understanding AMD Processor Names
AMD Mainstream Desktop Zen 2 Processors

AMD High-End Desktop (HEDT) CPUs

To their credit, AMD stayed pretty consistent with the naming scheme between mainstream desktop and HEDT CPUs.

For AMD HEDT CPUs, the SKU naming goes like this:

  • First Generation Zen: Ryzen Threadripper 1000 Series “Whitehaven”
  • Second Generation Zen+: Ryzen Threadripper 2000 Series “Colfax”
    • Example: Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
  • Third Generation Zen 2: Ryzen Threadripper 3000 Series “Castle Peak”
    • Example: Ryzen Threadripper 3990X
  • Fourth Generation Zen 3: Ryzen Threadripper 5000 Series “Chagal”
    • Example: Ryzen Threadripper 5990X (this is just a guess)

What is an APU?

Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) is AMD’s marketing term for CPUs that have both a conventional CPU and a GPU on a single die. This is just a CPU with integrated graphics. AMD further confused their naming by using a different numbering scheme for their APU SKUs. These APUs use higher series numbers for their product name compared to the same generation non-APU desktop SKUs. These desktop APUs will have a G or GE suffix. The “GE” suffix means a lower TDP, which reduces electrical usage and cooling needs.

For example: A Zen 2 desktop CPU is the Ryzen 3000 series, while a Zen 2 desktop APU is the Ryzen 4000 series. The official category name for these Ryzen APUs is “AMD Ryzen Desktop Processors with Radeon Graphics.”

Update: On June 1, 2021, AMD announced that the Zen 3 Ryzen 7 5700G and the Ryzen 5 5600G APUs will be available for sale to the DIY market starting on August 5, 2021. This is great news with the ongoing discrete GPU shortage.

Understanding AMD Processor Names
Ryzen 5000 Series APUs for DIY Market

For AMD mainstream desktop APUs, the SKU naming goes like this:

  • First Generation Zen: Ryzen 2000 Series “Raven Ridge”
  • Second Generation Zen+: Ryzen 3000 Series “Picasso”
    • Example: Ryzen 5 3400G
  • Third Generation Zen 2: Ryzen 4000 Series “Renoir”
    • Example: Ryzen 7 4700G
  • Fourth Generation Zen 3: Ryzen 5000 Series “Cezanne”
    • Example: Ryzen 7 5700G

What about Mobile Processors?

To maintain the confusion, AMD also uses a staggered SKU naming convention for their mobile processors (which are actually APUs). It lines up with their desktop APU naming. These APUs will also have an H, HS, HX, or U suffix. Models with an H suffix are higher 45W TDP SKUs that offer higher performance. Special “HS” SKUs are more efficient, with 35W TDP ratings.

The “U” SKUs are low TDP versions for better battery life and reduced cooling needs. The Ryzen 5000 series added “HX” SKUs that have higher performance than regular “H” SKUs.

For AMD mainstream mobile APUs, the SKU naming goes like this:

  • First Generation Zen: Ryzen 2000 Series “Raven Ridge”
    • Example: Ryzen 7 2800H
  • Second Generation Zen+: Ryzen 3000 Series “Picasso”
    • Example: Ryzen 7 3750H
  • Third Generation Zen 2: Ryzen 4000 Series “Renoir”
    • Example: Ryzen 7 4800H
  • Third Generation Zen 2: Ryzen 5000 Series “Lucienne”
    • Example: Ryzen 7 5700U
  • Fourth Generation Zen 3: Ryzen 5000 Series “Cezanne”
    • Example: Ryzen 7 5800H

This image shows the latest Ryzen 5000 Series Mobile SKUs that will be available during the first half of 2021. Unfortunately, three of the new Ryzen 5000 Series SKUs (“Lucienne”) are Zen 2 rather than Zen 3. This will only confuse people for no good reason.

Ryzen 5000 Series Mobile Transition

Understanding AMD Ryzen Processor Names

This is an older (2017-vintage) explanation of how to decode an AMD Ryzen model numbers from AMD.

Socket AM4 Model Number Architecture
Socket AM4 Model Number Architecture

Here are a few examples of newer AMD Ryzen processor names, with some explanation of each one.

  • Ryzen 7 2700X – This is a Zen+, mainstream desktop processor. The X means that it has slightly higher base and boost clock speeds compared to a non-X SKU. The Ryzen 7 series is an upper mid-range product family
  • Ryzen 5 3600 – This is a Zen 2, mainstream desktop processor. The Ryzen 5 series is a mid-range product family
  • Ryzen 5 3600XT – This is a Zen 2, mainstream desktop processor. The XT at the end means that it is a “Matisse Refresh” SKU that has a 100 MHz higher boost clock than an X SKU. I talked more about XT SKUs here
  • Ryzen 9 4900H – This is a Zen 2, mobile APU. The H at the end means that it has a higher TDP. Ryzen 9 is the high-end product family.
  • Ryzen Threadripper 1950X – This is a Zen, HEDT CPU. Most Ryzen Threadripper processors have an X suffix, but a few had a WX suffix.
  • Ryzen 5 5600X – This is a Zen 3, mainstream desktop processor. The Ryzen 5 series is a mid-range product family, but this is currently the entry-level Zen 3 SKU.

Are We Done Yet?

Actually, no. AMD also has Ryzen PRO and Threadripper PRO processors that are meant for business usage. They have added security features such as AMD Memory Guard, AMD Secure Processor, and AMD Secure Boot.

I am not going to discuss these here, except to note that the latest Ryzen PRO SKUs are APUs, which follow the mainstream desktop APU naming standards. An example, is the Ryzen 7 PRO 4750G. They are also a mish-mash of Zen 2 desktop and Zen 2 mobile. They have a monolithic architecture instead of CCXs, and they don’t have PCIe 4.0 support.

Update: On June 1, 2021, AMD announced the new Zen 3 Ryzen PRO 5000 series APUs. These include three 65W TDP G-Series desktop SKUs and three 35W TDP GE-Series Desktop SKUs. An example SKU is the Ryzen 7 PRO 5750G.

Final Words

The resurgence of AMD over the past four years with their Zen architecture has had a huge impact on the CPU market. They have put competitive pressure on Intel in every single CPU market segment. This has forced Intel to respond with higher core counts and price reductions. This is great for the market and for customers.

AMD has hurt themselves some with their inconsistent processor SKU naming. I am sure many people have older Zen+ APUs (such as a Ryzen 7 3750H) that think it is a Zen 2 processor. There are a growing number of people who have Zen 2 APUs, (such as the Ryzen 7 4800H) who probably think it is a Zen 3 processor. There was no reason for this inconsistency.

Luckily, AMD is starting to clean up this mess with Zen 3, which is using the Ryzen 5000 Series for desktop CPUs and APUs. I can figure this out, but I have to think about it for a bit to do so. This is needlessly confusing for non-hardware nerds.

BTW, if you are thinking about building a new system with a Zen 3 desktop processor, you should watch this video.

How to Flash the Gigabyte X570 AORUS Elite WiFi with Q-Flash Plus

If you have any questions about this post, please ask me here in the comments or on Twitter. I am pretty active on Twitter as GlennAlanBerry. Thanks for reading!

AMD, PC Hardware ,

17 thoughts on “Understanding AMD Processor Names

  1. Really helpful, thank you sir.

    1. Thanks! I’m glad it was useful for you.

  2. Very Informative. Would like if you tell about them from the FM1 socket to Current sTRX4 sockets cause many Buyers because of this confusion go with Intel

  3. Thanks for this explanation. My brain still hurts! How could anyone at AMD think all of this was a good idea from a marketing perspective!?! I’m no hardware expert but having both a background in information systems as well as marketing, all of this just has me scratching – and rubbing – my head!

    1. Somebody in AMD Marketing must have thought these naming schemes were a good idea at some point. The engineers don’t create the final external names.

      It definitely is more confusing than it had to be.

  4. David Kent Parry April 29, 2021 — 8:08 am

    could yo go back as far as socket am2 with Phenom cpus?

    1. Maybe I could get around to doing that.

  5. Thank you very much. AMD should pin this post on its homepage. I can’t understand why Companies go for ridiculous naming when they are actually catering to people who are discerning. CPU buyers know what they are doing.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, and for taking the time to comment!

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