It’s fair to say there hasn’t been an interesting CPU release since Intel introduced the Sandybridge range of processors, instead, we’ve had to put up with smaller increments and advancements – particularly in the IGP or reduced power consumption. Intel’s Skylake is getting closer, but what about team AMD, who’ve been somewhat behind Intel’s single thread performance with their FX range of CPU’s.
Well, the answer is of course Zen, AMD’s next generation X86 CPU, which the company claim will push them to the forefront of desktop performance. The Zen is supposedly going to be officially announced and unveiled at AMD’s Financial Analyst Day event, which takes place on the 6th May, 2015. But ahead of the official unveiling, a CPU block diagram has emerged, and it paints a rather impressive picture.
One will notice from the leaked slide that the CPU block diagram for Zen has changed substantially from the Excavator cores (which were used in the Bulldozer family of CPU’s). Gone are the two integer clusters, and it’s replaced with a single, larger integer cluster and a large float point unit.
In theory, this would indicate that Zen’s single thread performance will improve significantly when compared with the Bulldozer lineup. More importantly, from the customer’s point of view, it will mean a closer match to Intel’s way of doing things – which means AMD have a chance to catch up with Intel in tasks where Intel have had an advantage for this CPU generation.
Switching to the floating point units, and one will notice that it’s twice as wide as AMD’s previous generation. There are two FMAC 256-bit units, and smart money is on them being able to work together to process 512-bit AVX floating point instructions. This assumption is based on the Excavator processor legacy, where it’s two 128-bit FMAC’s could process either a 128-bit SIMD instruction for each clock cycle, or work together and process a 256-bit AVX instruction.
All of this ties in with an integer pipeline that’s 50 percent wider… once again, a measure of improving the single threaded performance.
One will also remember the other rumors that we’ve covered concerning Zen, including that it will indeed be an 8 core processor for the higher end, and that of course, it’ll be shifting to the DDR4 memory standard. Naturally all of this will be on a new platform, which is currently codenamed as Summit Ridge.
Using another leaked slide, it would appear that Zen will be modular, and to quote what we said in our previous Zen article “…each Zen module comprised of four CPU cores, 2MB of level 2 cache and a smattering of L3 cache too. This is reminiscent of how say the GCN architecture works, with each GPU containing several Compute Units say 20, or 32 units) and if you were to break down each CU, you’ll find 64 shaders (ALUs), which are grouped into 4 SIMD’s along with caches and other components.”
While we don’t have an official release date from AMD, their roadmaps are pointing to a 2016 release date (assuming nothing changes), which will leave customer’s who’re considering a Skylake upgrade in a rather interesting position.
Another rumor is that we’ll be seeing an APU featuring up to 16 Zen CPU cores and a insanely powerful GPU, stacked with HBM (High Bandwidth Memory). There’s even talk AMD will ramp this up to a staggering 32 Zen cores for those who need them for bleeding edge servers or say scientific computing. Read more info on this here.
AMD are also going to be releasing the K12 in early 2016, but unlike the Zen which is works on a X86-64 based architecture, the K12 will instead be an ARM variant (which is a lucrative market).