AMD Zen Architecture For Ryzen and Naples Processors Will Last Four Years on 14nm – Future Zen+ Revisions To Improve Architecture

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Jan 9, 2017
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AMD has confirmed that their Zen CPU architecture for Ryzen processors is expected to last four years. It took AMD four years to develop Zen and it will take another four for Zen to complete its shelve time.

AMD Zen Based Ryzen Processors Expected To Last Four Years

In an interview with PCWorld, Mark Papermaster confirmed that Zen will feature a four year lifespan. He mentioned that AMD will not follow Intel’s Tick-Tock model and instead go for Tock, Tock, Tock. This means that AMD will be planning to offer future revisions of Zen with an improved architecture to increase performance and efficiency. AMD will be featuring future revisions on Zen on their consumer, server and workstation processors.

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When asked how long Zen would last, compared to Intel’s two-year tick-tock cadence, Papermaster confirmed the four-year lifespan and tapped the table in front of him: “We’re not going tick-tock,” he said. “Zen is going to be tock, tock, tock.” via PCWorld

A tock cycle represents a new architecture while a tick cycle represents a process shrink along with architecture improvements. Intel has dropped this in favor of the PAO Cadence (Process-Architecture-Optimization). AMD is going to follow with the Tock, Tock, Tock cycle which means the next two generations of Zen will come with an improved architecture rather than a process shrink. This also confirms that AMD will be sticking with 14nm for a while. AMD will stick with the 14nm node and jump ship to the 7nm process after 2020.

AMD Zen To Be Replaced With Zen+ and Zen++ Cores In The Future?

So what comes after Zen? In previously shown slides, AMD calls the core after Zen as Zen+. Zen+ is going to lift the IPC and efficiency further but there’s also a third tock which we are going to call Zen++ (not an official name). If we look at the past, Bulldozer had a revision known as Piledriver. There was also Steamroller and the Excavator microarchitecture after that. The construction of all the cores had one thing in common, they were derivatives based on the original Bulldozer design. But the latter two were a Tick-Tock cycle since Steamroller was based on 28nm rather than 32nm (Bulldozer / Piledriver).

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Intel on the other hand has totally dropped the Tick-Tock cycle and gone with a new plan. They have launched Broadwell (process shrink or Tick), Skylake (architecture upgrade or Tock) and Kaby Lake (optimized microarchitecture or a half Tock). But they will have a second optimized node based on 14nm launching in 2017 known as Coffee Lake. So Intel is stuck with 14nm on the desktop front for some time too. This puts Zen in a pretty good launch position against Intel’s offerings. The 10nm processors from Intel won’t be ready for desktops and there are rumors that Intel may entirely skip 10nm for desktops in favor of the 7nm process on Ice Lake or Tiger Lake chips.

What those improvements will be, of course, is anyone’s guess. But Papermaster said he’s a believer in architecture improvements that go beyond simple manufacturing, something he’s previously referred to as “Moore’s Law Plus.” via PCWorld

Next Generation AMD CPUs And APUs

WCCFTechAMD Pinnacle RidgeAMD Gray HawkAMD Raven RidgeAMD Summit RidgeAMD Bristol Ridge
Product ArchitectureZen 2Zen 2 or Zen 3ZenZenExcavator
Process Node14nm14nm14nm14nm28nm
CPU CoresUp to 8Up to 4Up to 4Up to 8Up to 4
GPU ArchitectureN/ANaviVegaN/ACaribbean Islands
TDP65W-95WTBATBA65W-95W35-65W
SocketAM4AM4AM4AM4AM4
Memory SupportDDR4DDR4DDR4DDR4DDR4
LaunchEarly 201820192017-2018March 2017October 2016

AMD Zen To Last Several Generations of Consumer, Workstation and Server Processors

AMD’s CEO and President, Lisa Su, also confirmed that Zen will last three to five years with itself and its ZEN+ successors.

I think Zen is the first of a multi-year strategy so you know again you ask me what are my thoughts around the company I think AMD at our core we are a high performance computing company and so you know Zen is a from scratch architectural design, for those of us who do those you know it takes a lot of work.

It’s a multi-year effort but I think it’s a multi-year effort that we can see coming to fruition. And so what datacenter customers want from us is one we want you to be competitive and two we want a long term roadmap. And so we’ve really talked about Zen+, Zen follow ons, as you know a three to five year view of what’s needed to be successful in the datacenter. via Wccftech

AMD doesn’t see any major threats from Intel that may affect Zen’s launch. It was met with great response at the showcases from the PC gaming and enthusiast community. Ryzen is shaping up to be the processor series that AMD and PC gaming fans have long been waiting for. The future Zen+ cores will ensure that performance of Zen based chips keeps going up and will deliver the best efficiency possible.

WccftechAMD NaplesAMD RYZEN
MarketEnterpriseDesktop
MicroarchitectureZenZen
Cores328
Threads6416
BaseTBA3.6Ghz (F3 Stepping)
TurboTBA3.9Ghz (F3 Stepping)
4.0Ghz (F4 Stepping)
L1 Instruction Cache32 KB x 3232 KB x 8
L1 Data Cache64 KB x 3264 KB x 8
L2 Cache512 KB x 32512 KB x 8
L3 Cache64 MB16 MB

AMD ZEN CPU Architecture and X370 AM4 Platform Details Highlighted

AMD Ryzen processors will feature up to 8 cores and 16 threads with the Zen architecture. The processors will deliver up to 40% IPC gains and great performance increases over Bulldozer CPUs. All Ryzen processors come with new boost technology that are part of the SenseMI feature set. The Ryzen processors also feature a fully unlocked multiplier across several variants which would support overclocking on the new AM4 motherboards. If you would like more details about the Zen architecture, here’s the link.

AMD SenseMI Technology:

  • Pure Power – more than 100 embedded sensors with accuracy to the millivolt, milliwatt, and single degree level of temperature enable optimal voltage, clock frequency, and operating mode with minimal energy consumption;
  • Precision Boost – smart logic that monitors integrated sensors and optimizes clock speeds, in increments as small as 25MHz, at up to a thousand times a second;
  • Extended Frequency Range (XFR) – when the system senses added cooling capability, XFR raises the Precision Boost frequency to enhance performance;
  • Neural Net Prediction – an artificial intelligence neural network that learns to predict what future pathway an application will take based on past runs;
  • Smart Prefetch – sophisticated learning algorithms that track software behavior to anticipate the needs of an application and prepare the data in advance.

As for the platform itself, AM4 X370 will be top of the line. Aside from the budget friendly B350 and A320 chips, the X370 PCH will offer increase PCIe lanes and increased storage / connectivity features. AMD has planned a total of 16 new AM4 motherboards which will be available at launch through their partners. The boards are detailed in our post here.

The platform itself looks fantastic but the processors are the key component for AMD. We know some numbers in regards to performance and efficiency, but we can’t wait for these chips to actually hit the market. The expected arrival date of Zen based processors and the AM4 platform is Q1 2017 (February-March).

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