Zen is undoubtedly one of the most hotly anticipated AMD products announced for 2016 as it marks the company’s re-entry to the high performance x86 CPU segment with a brand new, clean slate, microarchitecture after a near complete absence of participation from the company in that segment for what now amounts to roughly half a decade.
AMD Zen FX CPUs Set To Debut In Q4 2016, APUs In 2017
Today’s update comes after we have finally managed to confirm through sources exclusive to WCCFTech when AMD plans to release its latest inception to the market. Zen is still too far out in time for anyone to accurately pinpoint an exact release date, at this point in time it would be very challenging even for AMD to commit to a specific date internally. Still, we’ve learned that AMD’s planning to debut Zen based desktop FX CPUs by Q4 2016, just in time for next year’s holiday season. While Zen based APUs are expected to debut at a later date in 2017.
It’s important to emphasize that AMD has not yet announced any specific release dates and the company’s official statement is still “on track for ‘Zen‘ availability in 2016 with first full year of revenue in 2017″. So while we’ve managed to confirm what AMD’s plans are for today it would be irresponsible not to draw attention to the fact that these plans could change in the future. But so far it’s been made very clear to us that late 2016 and beyond is AMD’s current target.
AMD Zen FX CPUs Will Come With A Bunch Of New Goodies
Fortunately that’s not all we have for you today, as we’ve managed to learn about a number of additional interesting tidbits as well. There are several SKUs planned based on the Zen CPU die, with 8, 6 and 4 cores with the possibility of even higher core counts later on. The Zen core itself is surprisingly compact and power efficient. The CPU die itself isn’t particularly large, an advantage which the company is planning to leverage by targeting Zen FX products towards attractive price points to penetrate the mainstream segment. In which FX products are set to compete very aggressively with their upcoming Intel counterparts. This is a space that’s been traditionally occupied by Intel’s quadcore I7, i5 and dual core i3 CPUs .
Zen FX CPUs will debut with a brand new chipset on socket AM4 that’s planned to push AMD’s connectivity, storage and entire feature set forward and much closer to parity with Intel. The upcoming FX processors will also include enhanced platform security features built directly into the hardware.
Zen Based APUs To Bring PS4 & XBOX ONE Level Of Graphics Performance, Zen Coming To The Enterprise Space In 2017
Moving over to the APU and server side of the Zen equation. APUs and enterprise products based on the new Zen microarchitecture are planned for release sometime in 2017. We’ve also learned of a particularly exciting piece of information about AMD’s next generation APUs and that they will boast graphics performance figures that are comparable to the Playstation 4 and XBOX ONE, even inside frugal notebook chips.
One other exciting tidbit is that AMD is working on a Zen based APU with on-package stacked high bandwidth memory that’s planned for release in 2017. However, whether all Zen based APUs & future iterations will feature HBM is not something that were able to confirm.
Zen’s Microarchitecture – The Unraveling Mystery
In the past couple of months alone we’ve seen a lot of new information come out about Zen. We reported on the AIDA64 changelog which icnluded Zen based “Summit Ridge” and “Raven Ridge” FX CPUs and APUs respectively. Prior to that we had very intriguing revelations about AMD’s Zen and K12 CPU cores taping out. We’ve also managed to learn a lot of about Zen through an official AMD Linux patch that detailed many aspects of the core’s design. If you want to read about everything that we learned with regards to the microarchitecture of the Zen CPU core and what it’s capable of you’ll definitely want to check out our in-depth analysis of the Zen’s high-level design.
Before we proceed any further we should take a quick step back. We first broke the news about AMD’s next generation high performance core back in September of last year. At which point AMD’s then CEO Rory Read revealed the code name for the company’s upcoming high performance x86 CPU microarchitecture. Prior to that revelation we only had knowledge of Zen’s sister ARMv8 core code named K12.
Back in May AMD announced that it was preparing an entirely new line-up of FX CPUs and a brand new platform ‘AM4″. We learned that the new family of FX processors code named “Summit Ridge” would feature an entirely new socket and an updated feature set including DDR4 memory support. And more importantly we learned that the new platform would feature mainstream CPUs with “high core counts” and “SMT” support.
Later a leak surfaced of a high performance server CPUs with up to 32 Zen CPU cores that AMD was planning to introduce with Zen. Reading all of those leaks about was interesting to say the least but it was also quite frustrating as we had no idea what to expect from Zen. That is until AMD revealed a whopper at its Financial Analyst Day earlier this year, which is that Zen will have a 40% instruction per clock improvement over its predecessor “Excavator”.
AMD’s Zen CPU Core Coming in 2016 – Features FinFET Process, SMT And New Cache System
Zen will be AMD’s successor to the Bulldoze family of cores. It will be the first ever CPU core from the company to adopt simultaneous multithreading. It’s also the company’s first entirely new CPU core design following the Bulldozer family of cores which debuted in 2011 and was the company’s first ever design to feature clustered multithreading .
In addition to SMT, Zen also features a new high-bandwidth low latency cache system. A vital improvement over the previous generation of cores. Since subpar cache performance was one of the primary pitfalls of AMD’s Bulldozer CPU microarchitecture. The new CPU core is designed for and will be manufactured on an advanced FinFET process. Which would allow the CPU core to scale from low power mobile applications to high performance desktop and enterprise markets.
Zen To Feature A 40% Instructions Per Clock Improvement Over Excavator
Mark Papermaster, AMD’s Chief Technology Officer revealed that the company plans to introduce a huge IPC improvement with Zen over AMD’s latest generation “Excavator” x86 core. A 40% increase in IPC would represent the largest jump in IPC ever for the company, an improvement which Mark Papermaster claimed he had not seen “anywhere in the industry”.
Papermaster also made it a point to highlight that this 40% performance improvement figure is independent from the manufacturing process. So it’s a permanent architectural performance improvement that will always be present regardless of the process node.
Zen will be featured in AMD’s enthusiast CPU product line in 2016. Lisa Su confirmed that the new CPU architecture will be arriving to desktop FX CPUs first and to servers second. Succeeding Zen will be Zen+ cores. Which will feature evolutionary improvement over Zen. The company will introduce a new socket in 2016 dubbed AM4 that will house products spanning from high performance CPUs to mainstream APUs based on Zen and next generation FinFET GCN based GPUs.
The new family of high performance FX CPUs which appeared in previous leaks as “Summit Ridge” will feature SMT CPUs with high core counts and DDR4 memory support. The platform will be based on the new AM4 socket which will be shared with AMD’s upcoming Excavator based 7th generation APUs.