AMD Ryzen Zen CPU Shown at Horizon Event

By Published December 13, 2016 at 4:55 pm

The article title might need a few more "-zen" and "-zon" syllables.

AMD’s new Zen architecture today made its public debut under the “Ryzen” 8C/16T CPU, an IGP-less competitor to Intel’s high-end enthusiast platforms. Ryzen, a combination of “Horizon” and “Zen” (we’re told), was demonstrated as operating at approximately 3.4GHz base clock, with boosting capabilities that brought it into competition with Intel’s Broadwell-E i7-6900K.

The Ryzen CPU aims to operate at approximately 3.4GHz base clock, leveraging a form of SMT to achieve 16 logical threads on 8 physical cores. We’ve also learned that Ryzen, due out in 1Q17, will host 20MB of combined L2+L3 cache. We are presently unsure of any more specifics on the caching architecture, and are due for briefings with AMD to develop a deeper understanding of Zen and its cache.

As for what we do know, Zen was shown to compete with Intel in Handbrake CLI transcoding performance (an entirely CPU-dependent task), real-time shading with 3D animation and modeling tools, and in gaming tasks. This, AMD told its viewers, was possible while operating at lower power consumption (95W TDP -- though different measurement methodologies matter here) than the designated Intel matchup. We don't yet have actual power draw metrics or thermal metrics for Zen. That will come with our testing, though.

AMD focused its presentation briefly – but not with the depth we’d like – on its new “SenseMI technology,” a collection of frequency range extension, boosting, and smart prefetching that works alongside branch prediction to speed-up the pipeline. Boosting functionality can now drill-down to 25MHz increments for more precise clock-rate adjustments to match the workload, providing greater granularity for frequency adjustment. We’ll see power reductions as a sort of ‘side’ benefit of a lot of these technologies (just as you see power reduction per bit transacted as a benefit of various compression techs on GPUs), resulting ultimately in greater performance per watt. This has been the trend of the industry for a while now.

As for some of the more technical details that were provided, we’re aware of Ryzen’s shared L3 cache layout to the extent of the below block diagram:


We’ll be explaining this more in a future deep-dive article, though.

Keep checking back as we educate ourselves further on AMD’s Zen architecture. We’ll be in talks with AMD shortly on the platform.

- Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke

Last modified on December 13, 2016 at 4:55 pm
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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