News Article | January 13, 2016
More than 600 metres below ground near Carlsbad, New Mexico, is the world's only operating deep geological repository currently accepting transuranic nuclear waste: that contaminated by elements heavier than uranium. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), run by the US Department of Energy (DOE), is used to dispose of laboratory equipment, clothing and residues from the nation's nuclear-defence programme. In the past 15 years, around 91,000 cubic metres (equivalent to covering a soccer field to a depth of about 13 metres) of such transuranic waste, mostly of relatively low radiation levels, has been placed there. The main contaminants are long-lived isotopes of plutonium (mainly plutonium-239, with a half-life of 24,100 years, and plutonium-240, with a half-life of 6,560 years) and shorter-lived isotopes of americium and curium. In rooms carved out of a 250-million-year-old salt bed, the waste is stored in hundreds of thousands of plastic-lined steel drums. The repository is now at about half of its planned capacity and is to be sealed in 2033. The DOE is responsible for performing safety assessments to ensure that WIPP will not exceed limits on exposure to radioactivity, as set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for 10,000 years. But new demands are emerging. An arms-control agreement with Russia made in 2000 obliges the United States to dispose of 34 tonnes of plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons1. Following the terms of the agreement, the United States planned to convert the material into a fuel — mixed (uranium and plutonium) oxide, or MOX — to burn in commercial nuclear-power plants. But faced with soaring construction costs for a MOX fabrication facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, the DOE has commissioned evaluations of alternatives2. The most recent report3, published in August 2015, recommends burying the weapons' plutonium at WIPP. Judging the repository's performance to have been “successfully demonstrated”, the DOE's Red Team expert panel proposes that the 34 tonnes of weapons plutonium can be added to WIPP once it has been diluted to low concentrations comparable to that of the transuranic waste at WIPP. In fact, WIPP's safety record is mixed. On 14 February 2014, a burst drum released small quantities of plutonium and americium to the surface (with a radioactivity of around 100 millicuries, or 3.7 gigabecquerels)4. Airborne radioactive material reached the surface through the ventilation system and spread 900 metres from the repository's exhaust shaft. Twenty-one workers were exposed to low levels of radioactivity, the highest dose equivalent to that from a chest X-ray. Nine days earlier, smoke from a burning truck filled the underground workings and shaft, damaging mechanical, electrical and ventilation systems. The DOE says that such accidents do not compromise the long-term performance of the repository. We agree that they need not — if lessons are learned. Our concern is not the events' severity but that they were unanticipated. These accidents illustrate how difficult it is to predict potential failures of such a disposal system over millennia. For example, assumptions about the repository's geochemistry or the likelihood of drilling into it can lead to underestimates of the risks. Before expanding WIPP's plutonium inventory, the DOE must examine more carefully its safety assesment for performance that stretches to 10,000 years and beyond. The 2014 radioactive leak at WIPP was caused by heat from a chemical reaction in a drum4. Plutonium-contaminated nitrate salts, a waste product of plutonium purification at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico, reacted with an organic, wheat-based commercial cat litter used as an absorbent for liquid wastes. The heat popped the lid. Although sensors detected the released radioactivity and diverted exhaust air through filters, some radioactive material leaked through. WIPP operators sealed the leak in the filtration system and sealed off the room in which the leak occurred. The breached drum remains in the repository. Analyses of the accidents4 by the DOE have documented a lack of a 'safety culture' at WIPP. The facility's successful operation for 15 years had bred complacency. The failures were wide-ranging: in safety assessments, control of drum contents, installation and maintenance of equipment, and preparation for an accident. An investigation of the drum-packaging procedure, for example, found “no evidence that any type of technical evaluation occurred” when selecting the organic absorbent material, even though its incompatibility with nitrate salts had been raised at LANL during waste packaging4. From a systems-analysis perspective, the drum breach was a 'normal' accident5 — a human mistake that led to a cascade of errors and breakdowns, exacerbated by a failure to enforce safety protocols. Complex technologies are prone to unanticipated failures that can progress quickly; examples include the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear-plant meltdown in Pennsylvania and the 1986 Challenger space-shuttle explosion. Such accidents cannot be easily predicted, but a system designed with failure in mind can mitigate the risk. The WIPP accident can be taken as a positive — it presents an opportunity to learn. The DOE has aggressively identified its causes and implemented corrective actions; incompatible chemicals are no longer mixed in the drums. But once the repository is closed, its contents cannot be monitored or problems fixed. We cannot be certain that future inhabitants of the area will even know that WIPP is there. To put the timescales in perspective, agriculture was developed just over 10,000 years ago. WIPP's present safety assessment addresses two scenarios: first, undisturbed performance and, second, human intrusion, such as inadvertently drilling through the repository in search of oil and gas6. The first foresees that after closure, the salt into which the repository is built will deform and flow around the drums to encase the waste. The model assumes that no fluids, such as brine, are present and that the site remains geologically isolated. Although the drums will be crushed, the radioactive material will be locked in the dry, solid salt, with no way to release radioactivity to the biosphere. Reliance on the geological barrier is so great that the form and composition of the waste is assumed to be unimportant; it need not even be treated. Human intrusion could release radioactivity to the environment6. Salt deposits, layered as sediments or as salt domes, are often associated with mineral and energy resources, such as potash and hydrocarbons — oil and gas. In southeastern New Mexico, exploration for and extraction of these fuels has led to extensive drilling in the Permian Basin, where WIPP is located. The probability of a borehole piercing the repository in the next 10,000 years is significant. If a borehole were to puncture the repository and a brine pocket, which are known to exist in the Castile geological formation below the Salado salt formation in which the repository sits, fluid may reach the transuranic waste (see 'Accident risk'). To assess the risk of radioactive release, one must first establish the probability of borehole penetration and determine how the pressurized brine will react with the waste. In forecasting future drilling rates, the EPA has used a 100-year historical average rate for the region, which predicts 67.3 boreholes per square kilometre over the 10,000-year regulated period6. But drilling near WIPP has risen sharply in recent years. As horizontal drilling and hydraulic-fracturing techniques have made new areas of hydrocarbon-bearing rocks accessible, the Permian Basin has become the most prolific oil-producing area in the United States. A recent 10-year historical average (2002–12) yields 148 boreholes per square kilometre over 10,000 years, more than doubling the projected risk of repository intrusion. Drilling rates, the effects of new technologies, and supply and demand pressures on hydrocarbon production are difficult if not impossible to predict centuries ahead. The concentration of transuranic elements leached by intruding brine is also hard to estimate because of the complexity of the waste: a typical drum contains a variety of materials, such as lab coats, gloves and other laboratory equipment. Different micro-geochemical environments will develop around different waste types. Chemically organic materials, such as plastic bags, may degrade by microbial action and generate carbon dioxide. In brine, CO forms stable carbonate and bicarbonate complexes with plutonium and other actinides (elements 89–103), raising their concentrations in solution. Large bags of magnesium oxide powder, amounting to more than 31,000 tonnes, have been placed in WIPP disposal rooms as an 'engineered barrier'. The magnesium oxide should react with the CO to form stable magnesium carbonates, thereby removing CO from solution and reducing the solubility of actinides. This presumes that the reactions proceed to completion and all the CO is consumed. The safety analysis calculations for WIPP assume that there is no CO present, dramatically lowering actinide concentrations in the brine and thus the risk of release of radioactivity. But reliance on magnesium oxide and a series of idealized reactions to constrain the repository's geochemistry is problematic, particularly if the amount of plutonium stored at WIPP increases. As made clear by the 2014 accidents, complex interactions of materials must be carefully considered when predicting the repository's performance now and in the future. The Red Team report proposes diluting the weapons plutonium before its disposal in an “inert adulterant” — a classified mixture of cementing, gelling, thickening and foaming agents known as stardust. The report is unclear on what is meant by 'inert'; however, inert materials are rare, particularly those that must remain so for thousands of years. In the case of plutonium-bearing solids, demonstrating chemical inertness presents a huge challenge. In near-surface conditions, plutonium can assume a variety of oxidation states — up to four, each with different solid-state and geochemical behaviours7. Its decay product uranium-235 has two principal oxidation states, U4+ and U6+, each with different geochemical mobility7. This complexity makes it difficult to predict how the actinides will react or be transported. Also, actinides decay mainly by the emission of α particles (energetic helium nuclei). During each decay, the daughter nucleus recoils and displaces thousands of atoms in the surrounding solid. Over time, this damage accumulates and changes the properties and chemical stability of the material. Radiation effects in actinide-bearing materials have been well documented over the past 20 years8, but are not considered in the Red Team's evaluation. The 'dilute-and-dispose' proposal to convert weapons-plutonium pits to plutonium oxide for burial in WIPP3 immediately raises safety issues. The extra plutonium nearly triples the current projected plutonium (around 12 tonnes) at closure. The design and safety assessment did not envision such a large amount. WIPP's capacity would have to expand by 15%1, increasing the likelihood that a borehole will one day intersect it. And the changed inventory of actinides demands new assessments of interactions with the materials present, including brine and CO . The amount of plutonium mobilized in brine depends on its solubility, which depends on its form and the amount of CO present after reaction with the bags of magnesium oxide. The current regulatory period of 10,000 years is short relative to the 24,100-year half-life of plutonium-239, let alone that of uranium-235, which has a half-life of 700 million years. To accommodate the extra plutonium, the regulatory period might be lengthened, meaning that the probability of human intrusion during this period increases. Some of these issues and others were raised in two 2015 reviews9, 10 of the Red Team report by the consultancy High Bridge Associates of Greensboro, Georgia. But the analysis did not consider the possibility of human intrusion. WIPP is fulfilling an important national need — the disposal of legacy transuranic waste from US defence programmes. Its opening was the culmination of 20 years of scientific research, engineering design and public engagement. Despite the accidents, WIPP can still fulfil its mission. However, proposals to substantially increase the plutonium inventory combined with a failure to revise the safety assessment, particularly the possibility of human intrusion, bear witness to the ease with which policy decisions can disregard the fundamental science — and risk yet another failure. The Red Team report shows a limited effort to consider or manage inherent risks. The shortcomings of proposals to dispose of weapons plutonium at WIPP mirror the operational failings that led to the 2014 accidents. Before the DOE considers implementing these recommendations, it should look to the repository's record over the past 15 years of operation and reassess its confidence in the safe performance of the facility over the next 10,000.
Westphal A.J.,Space science Laboratory |
Anderson D.,Space science Laboratory |
Butterworth A.L.,Space science Laboratory |
Frank D.R.,NASA |
And 83 more authors.
Meteoritics and Planetary Science | Year: 2014
Here, we report the identification of 69 tracks in approximately 250 cm2 of aerogel collectors of the Stardust Interstellar Dust Collector. We identified these tracks through Stardust@home, a distributed internet-based virtual microscope and search engine, in which > 30,000 amateur scientists collectively performed >9 × 107 searches on approximately 106 fields of view. Using calibration images, we measured individual detection efficiency, and found that the individual detection efficiency for tracks > 2.5 μm in diameter was >0.6, and was >0.75 for tracks >3 μm in diameter. Because most fields of view were searched >30 times, these results could be combined to yield a theoretical detection efficiency near unity. The initial expectation was that interstellar dust would be captured at very high speed. The actual tracks discovered in the Stardust collector, however, were due to low-speed impacts, and were morphologically strongly distinct from the calibration images. As a result, the detection efficiency of these tracks was lower than detection efficiency of calibrations presented in training, testing, and ongoing calibration. Nevertheless, as calibration images based on low-speed impacts were added later in the project, detection efficiencies for lowspeed tracks rose dramatically. We conclude that a massively distributed, calibrated search, with amateur collaborators, is an effective approach to the challenging problem of identification of tracks of hypervelocity projectiles captured in aerogel. © The Meteoritical Society, 2014.
News Article | December 12, 2016
Entergy said it has ended a power purchase agreement with Consumers Energy (CE), Michigan’s largest utility. Entergy said the agreement had allowed for the purchase of nearly all of the electricity generated at Palisades until April 2022. According to Entergy, market conditions have changed substantially since 2007 when it acquired Palisades and “more economic alternatives are now available to provide reliable power to the region.” Over 600 workers will lose their jobs and the CO2 free power provided by the plant will now be generated by natural gas plants and some renewable sources. Entergy said it could offer new positions to up to 180 of the affected employees at the Palisades plant. Under Entergy’s current plan, Palisades would be refueled as scheduled in the spring of 2017 and operate through the end of the fuel cycle. As part of the agreement, Consumers Energy also will pay Entergy $172 million to end the power purchase agreement and help Entergy transition to decommissioning the plant. Anti-nuclear groups wasted no time pitch forking the dead this week as Entergy announced that it will permanently shut down the single-unit Palisades nuclear power station in Michigan in October 2018. Beyond Nuclear posted the web equivalent of a victory lap on its web site even though it had no role in the utility’s decision to close the plant. The Palisades 805MW pressurized water reactor has been in commercial operation since 1971. Palisades’ current NRC operating license expires in March 2031. (NucNet) Staff at the Pilgrim nuclear power station in Massachusetts appear to be “overwhelmed” and struggling to improve performance at the facility, which is set to close in less than three years, according to an internal memo from the NRC leaked to the press. The memo, written by Donald Jackson of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, indicated that inspectors had found a “safety culture problem’’ during a review along with problems with maintenance, engineering, and the reliability of equipment. Jackson’s memo was sent to an environmental group, who forwarded the message to the Cape Cod Times. The newspaper posted the memo online. There are suspicions the leak was a deliberate act. However, memos like this one are not the product of a one person. They are team efforts with input from multiple NRC inspectors. Also, a draft may have been shown to plant personnel for fact checking purposes. In the end it is unlikely it will be possible to confirm who sent the memo to the anti-nuclear group, but the intent is clear and the immediate effects are unmistakable. In Massachusetts local government officials demanded an explanation from the NRC about conditions inside the Pilgrim plant. Jackson is leading a team of NRC investigators who began reviewing operations at the plant in November, as required by law because of the facility’s low safety rating. Pilgrim has been under increased oversight from the NRC after owner and operator Entergy did not adequately evaluate the causes of unplanned shutdowns in 2013. Pilgrim is scheduled to close permanently in May 2019. In April 2016 Entergy said the decision to close the 677MW boiling water reactor unit, which began commercial operation in December 1972, was based on a number of financial factors. Low current and forecast wholesale energy prices – brought about by record low natural gas prices, driven by shale gas production – have had a significant impact on Pilgrim’s revenues, Entergy said. (WNN) Illinois governor Bruce Rauner this week signed energy legislation that will ensure the continued operation of the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear power plants which are owned and operated by Exelon. Senate Bill 2814, the Future Energy Jobs bill, was passed by the state legislature on 12/01/16. The bill will see Illinois expand clean energy production while protecting jobs and maintaining competitive electricity rates, with caps and protections to limit the impact on consumers and businesses. It recognizes the contribution of nuclear power generation to the state’s zero-carbon emission generation and ensures that the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear power plants can remain open. Without the legislation, both plants had faced closure. Exelon said it plans to operate the Clinton and Quad Cities plants for at least another ten years as a result of the bill. “This historic legislation will protect the state’s primary source of clean energy while saving thousands of good jobs at our plants and providing millions of dollars in low-income assistance, as well as job training in communities that need it most,” CEO Chris Crane said. Rauner thanked those who had negotiated “in good faith” to make the bill a reality. “This bill ensures we don’t gamble with thousands of good paying jobs and gamble with our energy diversity.” The Nuclear Energy Institute called passage of the bill “a remarkable moment for the people of Illinois and for thousands of nuclear energy industry employees.” It said the legislation would preserve more than $1.2 billion in annual economic activity across Illinois. “Despite characterizations by opposition that this legislation constitutes a bailout, to the contrary, it is an investment in Illinois’ clean energy future. The bill levels the playing field for nuclear energy with other carbon-free energy sources,” the group said. “The clean energy benefits from this action are significant. Between them, the Clinton and Quad Cities facilities prevent the emission of more than 20 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year — the equivalent of taking nearly 5 million cars off the road.” It’s too bad Entergy didn’t have this kind of support in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Michigan. (Bloomberg) The International Atomic Energy Agency is opening an exchange for countries to trade information on a technology that uses molten salt to moderate the atomic reaction of liquid fuels, rather than water and solid fuel. The exchange offers backing to investors who have supported the new-model reactors as both safer and cheaper. The push comes as the U.S. accelerates retirement of its aging fleet of nuclear plants, and utilities tilt toward cheaper natural gas and renewables. Eighteen U.S. reactors are now being decommissioned, and a half-dozen more face closure for economic reasons. A wave of retirements around 2030 will further diminish the nation’s biggest source of low-emissions power, threatening the fight against global warming. “The technology used in today’s reactors is never going to be economical,” said Rory O’Sullivan, the 30-year-old chief operating officer at Moltex Energy in London. The new molten salt design “has the potential to disrupt the entire energy system,” he said. Leslie Dewan, 32, is the founder and chief executive officer of Transatomic Power Corp., a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based molten-salt-reactor designer who presented her design at the International Atomic Energy Agency in September and aims to build a prototype at a U.S. national laboratory site, possibly in Idaho, which has hosted other advanced test reactors in the past. Startups like Transatomic could play a key role by kick starting the stagnant U.S. nuclear industry. That would allow the U.S. to catch up with next generation Chinese and Russian nuclear designs already being connected to the power grid, according to Ken Luongo, a former director at the Energy Department. “There is a lot at stake for the U.S., its allies, and global stability and economic growth,” said Luongo, who helps lead the Global Nexus Initiative, a Washington-based policy adviser uniting nuclear proponents and environmentalists. “The nexus of nuclear, climate, and global security is a critical intersection.” (Aiken Standard) The federal funding bill for 2017 is headed for President Obama’s desk after passing a Senate vote. It contains measures to keep construction efforts afloat at Savannah River Site’s Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility. During the last year, the Obama Administration and DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration have been openly trying to cut the funding from underneath the project. MOX is being created as part of a now-suspended weapons grade plutonium disposition agreement between the U.S. and Russia. The project, once built, is designed to turn once-militarized plutonium into usable fuel for commercial nuclear power plants. The 34 metric tonnes of weapons grade plutonium will be converted into the equivalent of 1700 MOX fuel elements. The issue was contentious enough that specific language regarding the project differed between the House and Senate versions of the NDAA before the conference committee. In the final version, the project is allotted $340 million to continue construction at basic levels of progress. Additionally, the new NDAA includes language that would allow for a rebaseline project cost study. Cost estimates from both the NNSA and the MOX construction contract company has varied. Sources from both sides of the cost-debate indicated that a new study could clear things up. Previous studies have been politicized as proponents and critics have lobbed accusations of each side cooking the books at each other. A DOE internal “Red Team” review of the MOX plant, intended to resolve the differences, was leaked to the Union of Concerned Scientists, who oppose the MOX plant. US Navy to Build $1.6B Idaho Facility for its Spent Nuclear Fuel (AP) A $1.65 billion facility will be built at a nuclear site in eastern Idaho to handle fuel waste from the nation’s fleet of nuclear-powered warships, the Navy and U.S. Department of Energy announced this week. The new construction will be at the Naval Reactors facility on the Energy Department’s southeastern Idaho site which includes the Idaho National Laboratory, the nation’s primary lab for nuclear research. “This action will provide the infrastructure necessary to support the naval nuclear reactor defueling and refueling schedules to meet the operational needs of the U.S. Navy,” the Department of Energy said in a statement. Officials said site preparation is expected to begin in 2017 with construction of the facility likely to start in 2019, creating 360 on-site jobs. The facility is expected to start operating in late 2024. The Department of Energy formally announced the plan with publication of what’s called a record of decision in the Federal Register. The record of decision was signed last month by Admiral James F. Caldwell Jr., director of the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. Previous coverage on this bog from October 2016; U.S. Navy Sets Plans to Upgrade Idaho Spent Fuel Facility Idaho AG Wasden Says New Navy Spent Fuel Facility at INL is OK with State (Spokesman-Review) Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says he’s supporting the Navy’s plans for a new waste facility for nuclear waste from warships at the Idaho National Laboratory in eastern Idaho, and the plan is consistent with the 1995 agreement between Idaho and the federal government requiring removal of nuclear waste from the state and setting deadlines. “I support the Navy’s efforts to upgrade the facilities at INL, which will provide greater protection for Idahoans and their resources,” Wasden said. Here is his full statement: “In 2008, the State of Idaho and the U.S. Navy entered into an Addendum to the 1995 Settlement Agreement. The Addendum took into consideration a project like the one announced today. The Addendum relates to the receipt and storage of Naval spent fuel at Idaho National Laboratory after January 1, 2017 and before January 1, 2035. The language specifically states that the Navy must be in full compliance with the deadlines for removal of spent fuel from INL by 2035. The Navy has proven to be a good partner and has diligently fulfilled its obligations under the 1995 Settlement Agreement. I support the Navy’s efforts to upgrade the facilities at INL, which will provide greater protection for Idahoans and their resources.”
News Article | October 28, 2016
How strong is your cyber security? Join Chris Truncer, Senior Consultant at Mandiant, a FireEye company, as he provides an introduction to Mandiant Red Team Operations. Learn how Mandiant can achieve a realistic assessment of the effectiveness of your cyber security by emulating the attacker tools, tactics and practices used on the front lines of incident response. Chris will demonstrate the use of tools such as EyeWitness to automate the host enumeration process during reconnaissance. This open-source tool can be employed by blue teams to help: Defend against attacks Identify default credentials Generate a usable report Join us and learn more about Red Teaming!
News Article | November 11, 2016
LOS ALAMOS, NM, November 11, 2016-- Dr. Robert Macek has been included in Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.Dr. Macek is a physicist and scientific expert whose career has included contributions to the research community across the country including research in electron cloud instabilities in proton storage rings, and successful development, operations and upgrades of the Los Alamos Proton Storage Ring. After retirement from Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2003, Dr. Macek continued his career as a senior scientist with TechSource in Santa Fe, N.M., and as guest scientist at LANL. Prior to retirement, he served as associate division leader, program manager and group leader at LANL, member of the Dahrt Red Team at LANL, and postdoctoral research associate at The University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, he was a project leader at LANL, as well as a technical staff member, and chemistry lab assistant at South Dakota State University. In recognition of professional excellence, Dr. Macek was named to Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World.Outside of his professional duties, Dr. Macek is regarded for his involvement with research initiatives on many levels. He served on a DOE panel on accelerator physics and technology, as an expert consultant for the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada, and member of the advanced science board of HiEnergy Technology. Additionally, he was a review panel member for the European Organization of Nuclear Research and member of the accelerator advisory committee of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.Prior to establishing his career, Dr. Macek earned a Bachelor of Science from South Dakota University in 1958 and a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1964. He maintains membership with the IEEE and the American Physical Society. Although retired, he intends to continue consulting in the years to come.About Marquis Who's Who :Since 1899, when A. N. Marquis printed the First Edition of Who's Who in America , Marquis Who's Who has chronicled the lives of the most accomplished individuals and innovators from every significant field of endeavor, including politics, business, medicine, law, education, art, religion and entertainment. Today, Who's Who in America remains an essential biographical source for thousands of researchers, journalists, librarians and executive search firms around the world. Marquis now publishes many Who's Who titles, including Who's Who in America , Who's Who in the World , Who's Who in American Law , Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare , Who's Who in Science and Engineering , and Who's Who in Asia . Marquis publications may be visited at the official Marquis Who's Who website at www.marquiswhoswho.com
News Article | March 1, 2017
Update: We just held an interview with AMD, primarily regarding its Vega GPU technology. But, if you're interested in Ryzen, chances are the same can be said of Vega, so read up right here! Ryzen has risen – sorry not sorry – at long last. AMD’s latest multi-core desktop processors were revealed recently during an event in San Francisco, and the first of many will soon be available to purchase. The new chips promise to bring AMD into the high-performance sphere with Intel in a way that’s more affordable and is a marked improvement on its own previous generation of silicon. Without further ado, here is everything you need to know about AMD Ryzen before the imminent launch later this week. The first of what will likely be many Ryzen processors is available now for pre-order and will release on March 2. The chip comes in three varieties ranging in price and capability. However, AMD hasn’t yet revealed any other versions of the Ryzen processor other than the 7 series, designed to solely compete with Intel’s Core i7 series. If AMD wants to compete with Intel’s entire range, we’ll surely see more versions of the chip soon enough. The Red Team, if you will, is again positioning the Ryzen 7 series against Intel’s Core i7 chips, but for far better prices. The Ryzen 7 1800x chip, for instance, will be available for $499 (about £400, AU$650). That’s less than half as much as Intel wants for its Core i7-6900K. The Ryzen 7 1700x is marketed as AMD’s mid-range chip within this series, priced at $399 (about £320, AU$520), while the Ryzen 7 1700 (no “x”) will be available for $329 (about £260, AU$430). As you can see, these are the top-end of AMD’s new chips, aimed at professional and serious enthusiast PC gamers. Ryzen was designed by AMD to perform well at high loads and be compatible with the latest hardware in PC gaming. To that end, the firm had to develop a new chipset for the processors, the X370 and X300, and a new socket, the AM4. Yes, that means you’ll need a new motherboard (and a newer OS than Windows 7) for your Ryzen CPU. Luckily, AMD Ryzen motherboards are already in the works for this very occasion. Here’s a list of the technologies that these motherboards will support: Now, for the Ryzen processor architecture itself. AMD says that its goals with Ryzen were “maximum data throughput and instruction execution plus high bandwidth, low latency cache-memory support for optimal compute efficiency.” So, know that all Ryzen processors will enjoy these same traits: Essentially, the Ryzen chips will be better at hyper threading across their eight (so far) cores, enabling more actions per clock than before. For more information on how the first Ryzen 7 chips perform, check out our initial news article. Plus, we already witnessed an AMD Ryzen chip break a world record in benchmarks – albeit under extreme cooling. (Maybe that's why Intel's thought to be working on a 12-core beast of a chip.) High-level capabilities aside, here are the highlights for each of the three new Ryzen 7 chips: During AMD's GDC 2017 livestream, Capsaicin & Cream, the firm revealed that the Ryzen processor makes it possible to achieve 4K, 60 frames-per-second rendering of games at Ultra settings from just one AMD Vega GPU. Stay tuned to this page for more of the latest Ryzen information as the launch approaches and goes down on March 2 and beyond.