AMD shows off Zen but admits delay to early 2017, architecture details next week

Posted on Thursday, Aug 18 2016 @ 18:27 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
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Yesterday, AMD hosted a Zen preview event for select members of the press. Most of the details below and some additional slides were published at DV Hardware a couple of hours ago thanks to the VideoCardz leak.

It's now pretty certain that Zen is a 2017 story, previously the company said we might see some limited volume before the end of the year but now it seems the launch date will be early 2017.

We don't know anything about the final clockspeeds yet, but more details about the Zen architecture will be revealed at next week's Hot Chips conference. The company also revealed that the 32-core, 64-threaded Naples server processor is slated for Q2 2017, and that more information about the Zen-based APUs and embedded processors will follow in the second half of 2017.

At the event, AMD showed off a live demonstration of its 14nm FinFET Zen versus the Intel Broadwell-E in a Blender 3D benchmark setting. AMD used an 8-core, 16-threaded Summit Ridge engineering sample with a frequency of 3GHz. They compared it to the $1,099 Core i7-6900K, which was underclocked to the same 3GHz speed, to show Zen is roughly at the same level in this test on a per-clock basis. It's just a single test of course, so we can't draw any conclusions from this yet, but the overall message from AMD seems to be that they're back in action.

Here's the press release with additional details:
At an event last night in San Francisco, AMD (NASDAQ: AMD) provided additional architectural details and a first look at the performance of its next-generation, high-performance “Zen” processor core. AMD demonstrated the “Zen” core achieving a 40% generational improvement in instructions per clock, delivering a landmark increase in processor performance.

During the event, AMD demonstrated an 8-core, 16-thread “Summit Ridge” desktop processor (featuring AMD’s “Zen” core) outperforming a similarly configured 8-core, 16-thread Intel “Broadwell-E” processor when running the multi-threaded Blender rendering software with both CPUs set to the same clock speed. AMD also conducted the first public demonstration of its upcoming 32-core, 64-thread “Zen”-based server processor, codenamed “Naples,” in a dual processor server running the Windows® Server operating system.

“The performance and efficiency of our ‘Zen’ core showcases AMD at its best,” said Dr. Lisa Su, president and CEO of AMD. “Over the last four years we have made significant investments to develop a high-performance, multi-generation CPU roadmap that will power leadership products. Customer excitement for ‘Zen’ continues to grow as we make significant progress towards the launch of new products that will span from the datacenter to high-end PCs.”

The “Zen” processor core features multiple architectural advances designed to increase the performance, throughput, and efficiency of AMD’s future products. “Zen” is based on a clean-sheet design and features a new cache hierarchy, improved branch prediction and simultaneous multithreading (SMT). These advances will allow the “Zen” core to scale to meet the needs of a broad range of applications, including fanless 2-in-1s, embedded systems, high-performance computing, and the datacenter.

“An engineer may get one chance in their career to work on a project of this size and scope, and maybe never one with as much potential to impact the future as much as ‘Zen,’” said Mark Papermaster, senior vice president and chief technology officer at AMD. “With ‘Zen’ we aim to do what many never thought possible – deliver a 40 percent generational improvement in instructions per clock while maintaining power requirements in line with our previous generation technology.”

“AMD invested where it counts, with an x86 core that can scale from PCs to high-performance servers,” said Linley Gwennap, principal analyst, Linley Group. “Consumers today expect to get the most out of their systems to create transformative experiences. The versatile design of ‘Zen’ delivers highly-efficient performance that should provide increased computing capabilities across the spectrum – from devices to cloud computing.”

Expected to launch first, the “Zen”-based “Summit Ridge” desktops will utilize the AMD AM4 socket, a new unified socket infrastructure that is compatible with 7th Generation AMD A-Series desktop processors – previously codenamed “Bristol Ridge” – for exceptional performance and connectivity scalability required by AMD partners and customers. The first desktop systems featuring 7th Generation AMD A-Series processors and new AM4 sockets are scheduled to ship in the second half of 2016 in OEM PC designs.

With dedicated PCIe® lanes for cutting-edge USB, graphics, data and other I/O, the AMD AM4 platform will not steal lanes from other devices and components. This allows users to enjoy systems with improved responsiveness and benefit from future-ready technologies that the AM4 platform provides with a powerful, scalable and reliable computing solution.

AMD AM4 platform key technology features include:

  • DDR4 Memory
  • PCIe Gen 3
  • USB 3.1 Gen2 10Gbps
  • NVMe
  • SATA Express

    Additional “Zen” architectural features will be detailed next week in a presentation at Hot Chips 28.

  • About the Author

    Thomas De Maesschalck

    Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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