Understanding AMD Processor Names


As you probably know if you read my blog or follow me on Twitter, I am a pretty big fan of AMD processors. AMD 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.

Updated August 31, 2022

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. Right now, it looks like the fifth generation (Zen 4) will be released on September 27, 2022.

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.

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 the 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.

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
  • Fifth Generation: 5nm Zen 4 due to be released in September 2022
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
  • Fourth Generation Zen 3: Ryzen 5000 Series “Vermeer” with 3D-VCache
    • Example: Ryzen 7 5800X3D
  • Fifth Generation Zen 4: Ryzen 7000 Series “Raphael”
    • Example: Ryzen 9 7950X

The first four SKUs in the AMD Ryzen 7000 Series will be available on September 27, 2022.

AMD Ryzen 7000 Series Launch Pricing
Understanding AMD Processor Names
AMD 3D Chiplet Technology

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.

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 PRO 5995WX

So far, AMD has NOT released any non-PRO Zen 3 Ryzen Threadripper processors. I don’t think they will ever release any now, which is a shame. Hopefully they will not abandon non-PRO Threadrippers with Zen 4.

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

Here are my Amazon affiliate links for 4th Generation, Zen 3 mainstream desktop APUs.

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
  • Fifth Generation Zen 3+: Ryzen 6000 Series “Rembrandt”
    • Example: Ryzen 9 6980HX

This shows the new Ryzen 6000 Series Mobile SKUs that became available in Q1 of 2022.

Understanding AMD Processor Names

This image shows the Ryzen 5000 Series Mobile SKUs that became 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.

Understanding AMD Processor Names
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 5600 – 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 five 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!

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38 thoughts on “Understanding AMD Processor Names

      1. Yesss, really helpful post for me. Now I know that AMD has much more complicated naming scheme than Intel 😀

      2. I appreciate the post and all the effort that went in to it. But honestly I was going to buiild my next computer. I have always used AMD CPU’s. So I started by trying to choose a CPU by AMD. I can’t make any sense of the different Gens and Zens and 5 7 or 9 series. I honestly would have no clue what I was buying. Then there would be motherboard choices supports Gen this or that Zen this or that OR need a bios update to support something else. So I am deciding between either converting to Intel because their naming convention makes sense and is easy to understand or just give up and not build a new PC.at all.

      3. Despite the complicated AMD naming scheme, the choices are not that complex that it should actually deter you from building a new system. The safest bet right now is a Socket AM4 system, with a B550 or X570 motherboard, along with an AMD Ryzen 5000 Series processor. Which exact motherboard and CPU you get depends on your needs and budget.

      4. @Brian

        If you plan on gaming, go for Intel anyway. If not, the AMD cpus are really a bang for your buck. Well they’re also good for gaming but Intel almost always have the upper hand in this (the gap has been reduced quite a lot).

        But I agree the naming scheme is super annoying.

      5. Just saying “If you plan on gaming, go for Intel anyway” is a pretty broad generalization. Most systems are GPU bottlenecked on more modern games, especially above 1080P, so the CPU doesn’t matter as much (as long as it’s not absolutely terrible). The Ryzen 7 5800X3D beats the Intel Core i9-12900K in most CPU limited scenarios.

      6. Well I did say the gap has been reduced, but as you said, it doesn’t matter “that much”, implying that it still matters a bit :). If the endgame is to gain as much performance as possible you will want to go for the better CPU, and while some AMD chips beat Intel, the general consensus is that Intel is ahead. But it will come at a cost that isn’t very appealing, at least from what i’ve seen. For the record, I game intensively and i’m using an AMD cpu (Ryzen 7 3700X), so i’m definitely aware they can do the trick for most people ^^.

        The real defining point here is how much Brian is willing to put into this IMO (and of course that’s assuming he’s planning on gaming).

      7. Sorry. I tried to make sense of it again. We have some “Ryzen 9’s” that are out performed by some “Ryzen 7’s” and some “Ryzen 7’s” that outperformed by some “Ryzen 5’s” ….Then in each of theose “Ryzen” catagories we have a “Zen” designator and a “Gen” designator… Then in each of those we have a “thousand series” (3, 5, 7 , and 9). A simple single nomenclature of ascending numbers and or letters with the higher # being a better performer than a lower # would make sense. Does an old Dodge 340 motor outperform a 440….no. I have no idea what AMD was thinking and just don’t have the time or patience to figure it out. I was planning on building a new gaming computer but the more I look at the information the less it makes sense. Maybe in a few years I will revisit the idea. If it’s still non-sensical jibberish then I will throw in the towel. I do appreciate your effort to try and make sense of it all. Apearently some people “get it” and I am just not one of those people.

  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!

  6. Great article! you lost me at “Zen 2”, though… AMD needs to dumb this down just a little and they will take over

  7. Yeah no, it’s so goddamn stupid on AMD’s part to have such a complicated naming scheme. It’s been 2 years since I purchased my AMD CPU and I STILL have to check either the task manager or the receipt to remember its proper name. Nothing, absolutely nothing makes sense at first glance when you look at a model names “Ryzen 7 3700X”. 7th gen ? Oh no it doesn’t exist yet. Hmm, must means the number of cores (8). Wait no, it isn’t, it’s actually the second 7 that tells you that. 3… 3rd gen ok. But then there are processors names 5xxx… are they 5th gen ? No…. What the actual F is that ?!

    Before that i’ve been running for 8 years an Intel processor (i5 3450). With Intel the naming scheme especially in older generations was rather straightforward. i5 meaning it’s a quad-core (there used to be dual-cores i5 but that was long ago I believe), 3 means 3rd gen. End of story.

    Sorry for sounding aggressive, it’s obviously not towards you, it’s just that AMD knows like nobody else to screw up even the simplest things.

    1. It’s atrocious, but there is a (half-baked) method to the madness. The number after “Ryzen”, which can be either 3, 5, 7, or 9 is the so-called “segment”, and you can liken it to an automaker’s model number like BMW 3 series, 5 series, and so on. It’s independent of the generation and is a broad categorization of raw horsepower (primarily though not exclusively). The second digit of the 4-digit string, what they call “performance level” is, as far as I can tell, just a more granular way of identifying the segment, as per this scheme (subject to correction by someone more perceptive):

      – 1, 2, 3 are Ryzen 3
      – 4 can be either Ryzen 3 or 5
      – 5, 6 are Ryzen 5
      – 7, 8 are Ryzen 7
      – 9 is Ryzen 9

      So Ryzen 7 3700X is a Ryzen 3000 (third generation of Ryzen) with a performance level of 7, and with XFR.

      1. Well I like your example because I actually own a BMW lol 🙂

        I own a 530D. Those 4 characters alone almost tell you all you need to know.
        -5 for 5 series
        -30 for engine displacement, aka 3.0L
        -D for Diesel. Would be “I” for a gasoline engine (bit weird but tolerable). XD version would indicate “4 wheel-drive diesel”

        It’s pretty straight forward. I bought a gaming laptop in May this year, came with an Intel processor, as expected nothing as maddening as AMD. It’s a 11400H. It may not be as intuitive as previous naming schemes but I easily remember the 11 is for 11th gen, and in this segment it corresponds to an i5. Still far less of an hassle than AMD.

        IMO they should drop the number right after the Ryzen name and skip directly to 3000/5000/7000 etc.

  8. Thank you very much, one of the best articles about AMDs Ryzen I have read so far!
    Short but with a lot of important info in it…. helped me bigtime. Thanks again!

    Many greetings from Germany,

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