AMD: Expect More Cores on Next-Gen Mainstream Ryzen CPUs, No Saturation Point As Software Just Has To Catch-Up

Dec 6, 2019
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In an interview with Toms Hardware, AMD's CTO, Mark Papermaster, has revealed that we can expect even more cores on next-generation Ryzen CPUs. AMD recently launched their Ryzen 9 3950X processor, featuring 16 cores, which became an instant hit with entire inventories being cleared away minutes after availability.

AMD: Next-Gen Ryzen Mainstream CPUs To Feature More Cores, Newer Infinity Fabric Being Developed For High-Bandwidth Interfaces Like DDR5 and PCIe 5.0

There are a lot of interesting details that Mark has mentioned in the interview, in particular to the next-generation technologies that will be featured on their processor lineup ranging from Ryzen to EPYC CPUs. The most significant detail and the one I would start this article is with the fact that AMD isn't stopping at just 16 cores. According to AMD, there are now many applications that can scale across multiple cores and threads. The addition of cores is entirely relative to the number of applications that can take advantage of those cores so as long as this balance exists, there would not be a saturation point of cores on next-generation CPUs, whether these be mainstream or the HPC server parts.

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Mark's reply was solely for the mainstream lineup where has was asked if 32 cores would make any sense on the Ryzen platform. Following is the complete reply:

"I don’t see in the mainstream space any imminent barrier, and here's why: It's just a catch-up time for software to leverage the multi-core approach," Papermaster said. "But we're over that hurdle, now more and more applications can take advantage of multi-core and multi-threading."

"In the near term, I don’t see a saturation point for cores. You have to be very thoughtful when you add cores because you don’t want to add it before the application can take advantage of it. As long as you keep that balance, I think we'll continue to see that trend."

AMD CTO, Mark Papermaster via Toms Hardware

The other thing that Mark stated is that while Moore's Law has definitely slowed down and each node shrinking down the frequency scaling opportunities, there are other fields in which AMD has leveraged performance out of their current and next-generation processors. One of those technologies is Infinity Fabric which is now deployed across all Ryzen, Threadripper and EPYC 7nm processors. Infinity Fabric allowed AMD to scale up, not only the core count but also various IPs such as the I/O die, faster cache speeds and chip-to-chip communication, all of which contribute to faster per core and per chip performance over the previous generation.

In the coming Zen iterations, Mark has stated that Infinity Fabric would continue to evolve to keep up with higher-bandwidth interfaces such as DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 (already confirmed for 2021) that would be featured on AMD's lineup around 2021-2022.

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"We say [Moore's Law] is slowing because the frequency scaling opportunity at every node is either a very small percentage or nil going forward; it depends on the node when you look at the foundries. So there's limited opportunity, and that's where how you put the solution together matters more than ever," Papermaster said.

"That's why we invented the Infinity Fabric," he explained, "to give us that flexibility as to how we put in CPU cores, and how many CPU cores, how many GPU cores, and how you can have a range of combinations of those engines along with other accelerators put together in a very efficient and seamless way. That is the era of a slowed Moore's Law. We’ve got to keep performance moving with every generation, but you can't rely on that frequency bump from every new semiconductor node."

AMD will also evolve its Infinity Fabric to keep up with higher-bandwidth interfaces, like DDR5 and PCIe 5.0. "In an era of slowed Moore's Law where you are getting less frequency gain, and certainly more expense at each technology node, you do have to scale the bandwidth as you add more engines going forward, and I think you're going to see an era of innovation of how in doing so you design to optimize the efficiency of those fabrics," Papermaster said.

AMD CTO, Mark Papermaster via TomsHardware

AMD is also looking into integrating BFloat 16 on their next-gen EPYC lineup much like Intel's 14nm Cooper Lake CPUs which are expected to launch around mid of 2020. As for SMT4, it all boils down to whether there's enough demand or workloads that can take advantage of it.

"We've made no announcements on SMT4 at this time," Papermaster responded. "In general, you have to look at simultaneous multi-threading (SMT): There are applications that can benefit from it, and there are applications that can't. Just look at the PC space today, many people actually don’t enable SMT, many people do. SMT4, clearly there are some workloads that benefit from it, but there are many others that it wouldn’t even be deployed. It's been around in the industry for a while, so it's not a new technology concept at all. It's been deployed in servers; certain server vendors have had this for some time, really it's just a matter of when certain workloads can take advantage of it."

"We're always looking at where the workloads are going. BFloat 16 is an important approximation for machine learning workloads, and we will definitely provide support for that going forward in our roadmap, where it is needed."

AMD CTO, Mark Papermaster via TomsHardware

That's all the major points discussed during the interview but with all that said, AMD's CPU division is an unstoppable force. Taking major ground from Intel in the mainstream, high-end and server space and still managing to make their products more exciting compared to their predecessors. 2020 will make a major year for AMD as they prepare to launch their next-gen Zen 3 core which is based on a brand new chip architecture which AMD has promised would deliver significant IPC gains, faster clocks and even higher core counts than before.

AMD CPU Roadmap (2018-2020)

Ryzen FamilyRyzen 1000 SeriesRyzen 2000 SeriesRyzen 3000 SeriesRyzen 4000 SeriesRyzen 5000 Series
ArchitectureZen (1)Zen (1) / Zen+Zen (2) / Zen+Zen (3)Zen (4)
Process Node14nm14nm / 12nm7nm7nm+5nm?
High End Server (SP3)EPYC 'Naples'EPYC 'Naples'EPYC 'Rome'EPYC 'Milan'EPYC 'Genoa'
Max Server Cores / Threads32/6432/6464/128TBDTBD
High End Desktop (TR4)Ryzen Threadripper 1000 SeriesRyzen Threadripper 2000 SeriesRyzen Threadripper 3000 Series (Castle Peak)Ryzen Threadripper 4000 Series (Genesis Peak)Ryzen Threadripper 5000 Series
Max HEDT Cores / Threads16/3232/6464/12864/128?TBD
Mainstream Desktop (AM4)Ryzen 1000 Series (Summit Ridge)Ryzen 2000 Series (Pinnacle Ridge)Ryzen 3000 Series (Matisse)Ryzen 4000 Series (Vermeer)Ryzen 5000 Series
Max Mainstream Cores / Threads8/168/1616/32TBDTBD
Budget APU (AM4)N/ARyzen 2000 Series (Raven Ridge)Ryzen 3000 Series (Picasso 14nm Zen+)Ryzen 4000 Series (Renior)Ryzen 5000 Series
Year20172018201920202021?

We will see a full range of next-gen Ryzen 4000 and EPYC Milan chips landing next year with brand new technologies and once again, stunning performance/price segments for everyone. Expect to hear more about AMD's next-gen Zen 3 core including the Ryzen & EPYC lineup at CES 2020.

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