After one of the most impressive CPU launches in an era, AMD is facing criticism from customers who cry “paper launch,” because they can’t actually buy the ”best consumer CPU we’ve ever seen.”
As summed up by PC Gamer, AMD exec Frank Azor denied that he owed anything to some rando on Twitter who had bet him the Ryzen 5000 CPU would be a paper launch, much like Nvidia’s frustratingly hard-to-get RTX 3000-series GPUs.
“There’s a big difference between a ‘paper launch’ and shipping tons of units but demand exceeds supply,” Azor responded. Frustrated AMD fans then piled on, insisting that because they couldn’t buy one, it was a paper launch.
Much of the hand-wringing can be attributed to disagreements over the definition of the term ‘paper launch.’ To be fair, no official dictionary includes the term, unless you count as a credible source the Urban Dictionary, which defines ‘paper launch’ as essentially the modern interpretation of “not enough for everyone immediately.”
The thing is, that’s not what a paper launch has traditionally meant. Classically, a paper launch has meant a product that’s not actually sold but is talked about on paper to help steal thunder from a competitor’s product. For example, one could argue Intel's release of details of its 11th-gen Rocket Lake desktop chip, coincidentally a week before the Ryzen 5000 appeared, was a paper launch. The announcement talked up details of the Rocket Lake chip and IPC improvements months before the CPU is slated to show up on store shelves. While you could argue this is just news from Intel, the timing of that news would probably fit the classic definition of a paper launch.
Some might also consider Intel’s 10nm Cannon Lake largely a paper launch, given that over its entire life, it seemed like Intel didn’t intend to sell it. Even though it appeared in NUCs that were sold at retail, it was more like Intel checking off a bucket-list item of “I sold 10nm desktop chips in 2018.”
That is far, far different from Nvidia selling every single RTX 3000 card in existence almost immediately. Nvidia said it expects to ship thousands more, but it also acknowledges that it probably won’t satiate demand this year. And unlike Intel’s Cannon Lake NUC, we’re certain Nvidia wishes it could fill another five container ships with GPUs with RTX 3000 to take your money.
Ryzen 5000 is no paper launch
With the Ryzen 5000 launch, we think Azor doesn’t owe anyone that 10 bucks.
If the definition of paper launch has indeed shifted to simply not meeting immediate demand for every single consumer who wanted to buy it when launched, then just about every single PC component worth buying in the last 10 years was a “paper launch.”
Ryzen 2000 ran into supply issues, as did Ryzen 3000. Intel’s initial Core i9-9900K was impossible to get for months, as was the Core i7-8700K. And yes, Nvidia’s RTX 3000 is hard to get—but so was the previous GeForce RTX 2000 series.
With Ryzen 5000, clearly thousands of chips have made their way into consumer’s hands, judging by photos on Twitter and forums and statements we’ve heard about the new CPU literally being on store shelves before they were snapped up.
So no, the Ryzen 5000 isn’t a paper launch. Frustrating yes, but not a paper launch.