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As more reviews, experience and evidence emerges for the Ryzen 3000 boosting behaviour, it seems to corroborate my intuition that AMD did not hit the frequency targets for Zen 2. I think Lisa Su hinted about it when she announced the launch schedule earlier this year ("we need to get frequencies where we want them", or something to that effect). That schedule was a bit later than most expected, me included.
Maybe the AMD engineers put too much priority on power-efficiency and targeted a sweet spot a little too low on the power-vs-frequency curve, hoping and expecting they would reach the frequencies necessary on the high-end to challenge Intel single-thread performance dominance. However, it now seems the SKUs have trouble even reaching advertised boost frequencies — to any meaningful degree, at least.
AMD Senior Technical Marketing Manager Robert Haddock — which seems to me, in all his presentations and demeanour, to be a genuine PC-enthusiast trying to do clear and fair marketing and engage with the community — is now under criticism for his promotion and claims about Precision Boost Overdrive (which currently seems to do very little, if anything at all), and in particular the reference to possible gains of another 200MHz over and beyond the 4.6 GHz frequency advertised for Ryzen 3900X (see his PBO explanation video).
Hopefully, Zen 2 is doing better than expected on the power-efficiency part of the curve to compensate. In the end, Ryzen 3000 is still impressively competitive, and Zen 2's service in EPYC 2 is after all the top priority, where power-efficiency at the sweet spot on the frequency curve is more important.
Still, I hope AMD has more they can do to refine the Zen 2 implementation and 7nm process to gain some frequency. If so, perhaps we will have a refresh of Ryzen 3000 before Zen 3 arrives. It will be interesting to see how Ryzen 3950 fares when it arrives in September, and whether the silicon is any better.