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.
The AMD Gen 7 APUs and AM4 platform have officially begun shipment in some OEM systems this weekend, primarily through OEMs at physical retail locations. AMD's launch includes entry-level and mainstream AM4 chipsets, promising the high-end Zen chipset (990FX equivalent) at a later date. AM4 platform shipment begins with the B350, A320, and X/B/A300 chipsets in accompaniment with the A12-9800 and down.
Let's run through the new Gen7 APU finalized specs first, then talk AM4 chipset specs. Note that the new AM4 motherboards are making major moves to unify the FM and AM platforms under AMD's banner, so Zen's FX line equivalent and the Gen7 APUs will both function on the same motherboard. The below table (following the embedded video) provides the specs for the A12-9800, X4 950, and other relevant chips:
While Intel's Developer Forum is underway in San Francisco, not far from AMD in Sunnyvale, the x64 creators held a press conference to demonstrate Zen CPU performance. Based strictly on the presentation, AMD shows a 40% IPC (Instructions Per Clock) over Vishera. The demonstration used a 16T processor, the “Summit Ridge” chip that's been discussed a few times, which runs 8 cores with simultaneous multi-threading (SMT) for 16 total threads. For the non-gaming market, CPU codename “Naples” was also present, a 32C/64T Zen server processor in a dual-CPU Windows server.
AMD detailed more of the Zen architecture in an official capacity, commenting on new caching routines and branch prediction, accompanied by the SMT changes that shift AMD away from its modular Bulldozer architecture. AMD made mention of “fanless 2-in-1s” in addition to high-performance CPUs and embedded systems.
In a recent story circulating the web, rumors of AMD's (confirmed) deference to AS Media for its Zen chipset design have pointed toward USB3.1 transmission speed degradation issues. The reports indicated a slow-down of USB3.1 speeds as ports are distanced from the chipset, resolvable by motherboard manufacturers with a separate controller for USB3.1. The reports have not presented numbers for the alleged speed degradation; we do not have a clear picture of how heavily – if at all – this rumor impacts USB device speed.
Should USB3.1 transfer speeds truly be impacted this greatly by circuit distance, motherboard manufacturers can opt for inclusion of aftermarket ICs that resolve the issue at increased BOM. There is also still some time prior to mass production and shipping – motherboard manufacturers and AS Media may find a remedy to this reported choke-point by then.
The first “Ask GN” since leaving for PAX East, we delve into topics exploring voltage configurations for overclocking, AMD's Zen / Polaris architectures and the make-or-break pressure, alternatives to FRAPS in DirectX 12/Vulkan, and upgrades.
The questions are posted below the video with timestamps, as always.
For anyone interested in the final question in the video (paraphrased: “Should I buy Polaris or Pascal and sell my 980 Ti?”), you may be interested in our recent “Polaris & Pascal: Buy or Wait?” content we published.
This fifteenth episode of Ask GN springs forth a few quick-hitter questions, but a couple that require greater depth than was addressable in our episodic format. These longer questions will be explored in more depth in future content pieces.
For today, we're looking at the future of AMD's Zen for the company, forecasting HDR and monitor tech, discussing IGP and CPU performance gains, and talking thermals in laptops. As always, one bonus question at the end.
Timestamps are below the embedded video.
The past week of hardware news is mostly industry-driven, with few noteworthy product announcements outside of a few small items. A few critical news items emerged regarding industry, though, like further Samsung vs. nVidia proceedings, Micron's GDDR5X memory (replacing GDDR5, theoretically), Unity's Steam VR support, AMD/HP FreeSync laptops, and AMD Zen details revealed through CERN – the particle and nuclear research group.
We've rounded up this week's news in the below video. You can find quick, bulleted recaps of each item below the video, if you'd prefer that format.
Learn more below!
A recent post by Digitimes, known for reporting on leaked or unofficial information, claims that AMD's anticipated Zen architecture is slated for a late 2016 arrival “at the earliest.” This news follows AMD's nearly endless financial spiral, something we reported on earlier this week. The company is now substantially less than the price it paid for ATi in 2006, a purchase that exceeded $5 billion in acquisition cost to AMD.
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