Last week, the Total War: Warhammer team released a new patch, codenamed Bretonnia. While they didn’t specifically discuss any kind of new features in the patch notes, testing shows that the update significantly improved performance on AMD’s new Ryzen microprocessors.
PCGames.fr tested the new 1.6.0 patch, and found a consistent 10 percent improvement on all three Ryzen 7 processors, as shown below:
Intel microprocessors were reportedly unaffected by the patch. The size of the improvement suggests further proof for AMD’s claim that Ryzen’s lower-than-expected performance in some titles was caused by a lack of game code optimizations. Ashes of the Singularity, which released its own patch last week, has also seen a modest performance uplift, and Oxide has speculated that the situation might be improved further with additional changes.
PCGames.fr also floats the idea that some of the Ryzen gap might be attributable to bugs in game engines, like F1 2016, which apparently treated Ryzen as a 16-core processor rather than an eight-core processor with 16 threads. AMD’s Robert Hallock wrote up and released his own report on how SMT, faster RAM, and HPET settings could influence the F1 2016 benchmark specifically, available here.
This distinction isn’t trivial and it could easily explain some of what’s been called the “Ryzen gap,” although we’d caution against assuming it’s the only explanation (Ashes of the Singularity, for example, had a different issue). When Intel released the first Pentium 4 processors with Hyper-Threading for the consumer market, previous Windows operating systems like Windows 2000 and Windows XP pre-SP1 didn’t assign workloads properly because they didn’t understand that HT offered a second logical processor, not a second physical core. In HT/SMT, scheduling and execution resources are shared, not duplicated — and that means trying to shove 16 separate threads down an eight-core chip with SMT could easily lead to some of the performance decreases we’ve seen in certain titles.
On the whole, however, I’m not too worried about the so-called ‘Ryzen gap.’ Our tests showed that the Ryzen 7 1800X could stay neck-and-neck with the Core i7-6900K, even when equipped with a GTX 1080 Ti, when tuned for testing in GPU-centric as opposed to CPU-centric scenarios. Provided we see similar patterns with Ryzen 5, there’s no real reason to be concerned. Older games and engines that might not be optimized properly will still run quite quickly, while newer titles will bake in proper support from the start.
So far, Total War: Warhammer and Ashes of the Singularity are the only two games we know of with Ryzen-specific patches, but we’ll keep you updated as more games add support. The speed with which both developers released these updates suggests it’s not too hard to close the gap, which is good news for AMD and gamers alike.