Pat yourself on the back if you managed to score a Ryzen 5000 series CPU when the new silicon launched to retail last week. Many people were not able to snag one, however, before available inventories completely flew off store shelves, which raises the question, was this a paper launch? AMD's Frank Azor takes issue with that designation.
This hearkens back to a Twitter post in September by a VR developer who was frustrated at not being able to buy an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 (opens in new tab) graphics card at launch. He noted in the same tweet, " $10 says AMD will be a paper launch too."
Azor half-jokingly took the bet by responding (opens in new tab), "I look forward to taking your $10," with a smiley face added for good measure. I say "half-jokingly" because I don't think Azor actually had any intentions of accepting a Hamilton from someone on Twitter, but he effectively went on record as saying the Radeon RX 6000 series would not be a paper launch.
Well, over the weekend someone dug up the Twitter thread and called the Ryzen 5900X CPU a paper launch, which could apply to all four of AMD's new CPUs, if making that determination based on retail availability at the moment. Azor responded to that Twitter post as well.
"There's a big difference between a 'paper launch' and shipping tons of units but demand exceeds supply," Azor said (opens in new tab).
Merriam-Webster does not define the term "paper launch," but it is generally used to describe a product launch with extremely thin quantities, for the purpose of saying a product has launched. This is oftentimes as a way to claim a performance victory over the competition as well—in this case, AMD can rightfully lay claim to having launched the overall fastest consumer CPU lineup ever, whether you can actually go out and buy one at MSRP or not (and right now, you can't).
So what Azor is claiming is that AMD shipped "tons of units" but it was still not enough to meet demand, as opposed to shipping a small number of Zen 3 CPUs, if that is any consolation.
And what about the problem of bots? In a separate tweet, Azor answered a question (opens in new tab) asking if AMD did anything to circumvent them with the Zen 3 launch.
"Yes, we made a strong effort and succeeded in many cases. It's a battle that is never completely won but I applaud our teams efforts and those of our partners during this round. We continue to learn and adapt with every launch. We want our products in the hands of their intended users," Azor said.
He also noted that AMD is "analyzing what has gone well and what hasn't from different recent launches," and will be applying those lessons to the upcoming retail launch of the Radeon RX 6000 series (opens in new tab).
From what we've heard at Nvidia, the green team would claim its GeForce RTX 30 series was far from a paper launch, too. Following the GeForce RTX 3080 launch, Nvidia issued an explainer on why it sold out sold so quickly, saying demand was "truly unprecedented".
"The reception to our Nvidia Ampere architecture GPUs has been off the charts and driven interest to heights we’ve never previously experienced. A few examples compared to our previous launch - 4 times the unique visitors to our website, 10 times the peak web requests per second, and more than 15 times the out clicks to partner pages," Nvidia said (opens in new tab).
I have a feeling the Radeon RX 6000 series will go the same way, because if 2020 had a tag line in the tech sector, it would be "out of stock." We'll find out soon enough—the Radeon RX 6800 XT ($649) and 6800 ($579) both go on sale November 18, followed by the 6900 XT ($999) on December 8.