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RUMOR: AMD Zen 3 Based Next-Gen Ryzen 4000 ‘Vermeer’ Desktop CPUs To Utilize TSMC’s 5nm Process Node, Launching at CES 2021

May 28, 2020
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Digitimes has just dropped a major bomb on AMD's next-generation Zen 3 core architecture which is reportedly dropping TSMC's 7nm EUV process in favor of its 5nm node to power upcoming Ryzen 4000 Desktop CPUs, codenamed Vermeer.

AMD Ryzen 4000 'Vermeer' Zen 3 Based Desktop CPUs To Utilize TSMC's 5nm+ Process Node, Launching at CES 2021

Update: In a follow up to this rumor, AMD's CEO, Dr.Lisa Su, did comment on 5nm in an interview during the Bernstein’s “Annual Strategic Decision Conference” where it was stated that processors for the mobile segment are likely to start off with a new node and that was about the Zen 4 CPU architecture. There's still no clear information on AMD's Zen 3 process node but we recently got another leak which might suggest that the two next-generation CPU architectures from AMD, the Vermeer, and Warhol family, will retain 7nm before they move to 5nm with Zen 4 CPUs which are allegedly codenamed, Raphael.

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According to the report which has been shared by Chia (Retired Engineer) at Twitter, it looks like AMD will be the lead customer for TSMC's next-generation 5nm+ process node. TSMC had recently entered its 5nm era in April of 2020 and is reportedly commencing mass production in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Earlier, it was being expected that AMD would replace its Zen 2 lineup featuring TSMC's 7nm node with Zen 3 chips based on the more advanced 7nm EUV node from TSMC. However, it seems like AMD is going all steam ahead, bypassing the 7nm process node in favor if TSMC's bleeding-edge 5nm+ process which is going to deliver an incremental performance uplift over the current generation of processors.

As per the report, it is stated that AMD is going to be the first customer to adopt TSMC's 5nm+ node in its next-generation Zen 3 line of processors. The Zen 3 CPUs are expected to be announced in late Q3 (September/October) however, considering that mass production commences the very next quarter, actual availability and launch will take place in 2021. CES 2021 is being pointed out as one of the launch platforms for AMD to unveil its next-generation Ryzen 4000 'Vermeer' Desktop CPUs.

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Surprisingly, the report only mentions Ryzen 4000 Desktop CPUs to utilize the 5nm+ process node. The underlying Zen 3 architecture is already confirmed to power AMD's next-generation Milan line of EPYC CPUs this year however, they are not mentioned here. It is likely that AMD could delay its first server shipments to 2021 based once again on the fact that mass production commences for 5nm+ later this year. AMD would have to deliver each chip they could manufacturer to several HPC contracts that they have signed for next-gen EPYC CPUs while simultaneously building up inventory for consumers (Ryzen 4000 CPUs).

It looks like AMD not only tapped in TSMC's 5nm+ node for its Ryzen 4000 CPUs but also a highly enhanced version of it. Previously, it was reported that it was going to be Zen 4 based CPUs to feature an enhanced 5nm+ node from TSMC but as per this report, even Zen 3 CPUs will get the exclusive version. WikiChip mentions the roadmap of TSMC's process node and how they stack up to their predecessors:

TSMC 7nm (N7P)

  • +7% Better Performance at same power versus N7
  • 10% power savings at the same performance versus N7

TSMC 7nm (N7+)

  • +10% Better Performance at same power versus N7
  • 15% power savings at the same performance versus N7

TSMC 5nm (N5)

  • +15% Better Performance at same power versus N7
  • 30% power savings at the same performance versus N7

TSMC 5nm (N5P)

  • +7% Better Performance at same power versus N5
  • 15% power savings at the same performance versus N5

The move to 5nm+ also makes things clear as to why we are seeing the launch of a Zen 2 refresh family (Ryzen 3000 Matisse Refresh) during mid of 2020. This refreshed lineup is to offer some thing to the consumer market until the next-generation launches. Nevertheless, having 5nm+ CPUs as early as 2021 would give a major blow to Intel who will still be relying on the 10nm process for the vast majority of its 2021 lineup.

Here's Everything We Know About The Zen 3 Based Ryzen 4000 'Vermeer' Desktop CPUs

The AMD Zen 3 architecture is said to be the greatest CPU design since the original Zen. It is a chip that has been completely revamped from the group up and focuses on three key features of which include significant IPC gains, faster clocks, and higher efficiency.

AMD has so far confirmed themselves that Zen 3 brings a brand new CPU architecture, which helps deliver significant IPC gains, faster clocks, and even higher core counts than before. Some rumors have even pointed to a 17% increase in IPC and a 50% increase in Zen 3's floating-point operations along with a major cache redesign.

When asked about what kind of performance gain Milan's CPU core microarchitecture, which is known as Zen 3, will deliver relative to the Zen 2 microarchitecture that Rome relies on in terms of instructions processed per CPU clock cycle (IPC), Norrod observed that -- unlike Zen 2, which was more of an evolution of the Zen microarchitecture that powers first-gen Epyc CPUs -- Zen 3 will be based on a completely new architecture.

Norrod did qualify his remarks by pointing out that Zen 2 delivered a bigger IPC gain than what's normal for an evolutionary upgrade -- AMD has said it's about 15% on average -- since it implemented some ideas that AMD originally had for Zen but had to leave on the cutting board. However, he also asserted that Zen 3 will deliver performance gains "right in line with what you would expect from an entirely new architecture."

- The Street

Other rumors have pointed out to a 50% increase in overall floating-point performance. We also got to see a major change to the cache design in an EPYC presentation, which showed that Zen 3 would be offering a unified cache design which should essentially double the cache that each Zen 3 core could have access compared to Zen 2.

The CPUs are also expected to get up to 200-300 MHz clock boost, which should bring Zen 3 based Ryzen processors close to the 9th Generation Intel Core offerings. That, along with the massive IPC increase and general changes to the architecture, would result in much faster performance than existing Ryzen 3000 processors, which already made a huge jump over Ryzen 2000 and Ryzen 1000 processors while being an evolutionary product rather than revolutionary, as AMD unveiled very recently.

The key thing to consider is that we will get to see the return of the chiplet architecture and AMD will retain support on the existing AM4 socket. The AM4 socket was to last until 2020 so it is likely that the Zen 3 based Ryzen 4000 CPUs would be the last family to utilize the socket before AMD goes to AM5 which would be designed around the future technologies such as DDR5 and USB 4.0. AMD's X670 chipset was also hinted as to arrive by the end of this year and will feature enhanced PCIe Gen 4.0 support and increased I/O in the form of more M.2, SATA, and USB 3.2 ports.

It was recently confirmed by AMD that Ryzen 4000 Desktop CPUs will only be supported by 400 & 500-series chipsets while 300-series support would be left out.

As for competition, the AMD Ryzen 4000 'Zen 3 Vermeer' lineup would compete against Intel's soon to be released Comet Lake-S and its upcoming Rocket Lake-S desktop processors. Tackling the Intel Comet Lake-S won't be so hard since the Ryzen 3000 CPUs are competitively positioned against the entire lineup as evident from the recent performance leaks, but Rocket Lake-S seems to be a major architectural uplift for Intel (although still based on 14nm process) which might just be Intel's way back in the desktop mainstream market.

With that said, Rocket Lake-S is still something that needs to be evaluated prior to its release before we can call it a Zen 3 challenger but time would make it clear. As for now, the competitive advantage that AMD has with its Zen 2 based Ryzen 3000 is just way too big compared to whatever Intel has in their sleeves for this year and Zen 3 based Ryzen 4000 processors are going to push that envelope even further.

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 2Zen (4) / Zen 3
Process Node14nm14nm / 12nm7nm7nm+ / 7nm5nm / 7nm
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 Series (White Haven)Ryzen Threadripper 2000 Series (Coflax)Ryzen 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 (Warhol)
Max Mainstream Cores / Threads8/168/1616/32TBDTBD
Budget APU (AM4)N/ARyzen 2000 Series (Raven Ridge)Ryzen 3000 Series (Picasso Zen+)Ryzen 4000 Series (Renoir Zen 2)Ryzen 5000 Series (Cezanne Zen 3)
Year2017201820192020/20212021/2022?
What do you want to see in AMD's next-gen desktop CPUs?
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