Rumor: AMD will bring back Excavator core for one last dance

— 4:54 PM on December 9, 2015

While everybody is looking forward to AMD processors based on the upcoming Zen architecture, those chips are still a ways off. During the Raymond James Technology Investors Conference, AMD CFO Devinder Kumar said that Zen-based CPUs wouldn't ship for revenue until 2017, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. In the meantime, it seems the company may bring back the Excavator core found in Carrizo APUs for one more round of processors, if some internal slides BenchLife got its hands on are the real deal.

Since Carrizo didn't make its way to the desktop, the company has only introduced refreshed Kaveri APUs this year. 2016 may be a little more exciting, since the rumored Bristol Ridge APU will make its way to the Socket AM4 platform that includes support for DDR4 memory. These APUs are listed as having "third-generation" GCN graphics, like Carrizo.

The listed parts don't have names, but the slides have plenty of other details. If the models listed on the slides are real, the top-end APU will have a 3.6GHz base clock with a 4GHz turbo speed in a relatively modest 65W power envelope. Most of the models on the table have a pair of Excavator CPU modules (making for a total of four cores) fed by 2 MB of L2 cache, but one model cuts those core and cache counts in half. The leaked slides claim that each of the 65W models have configurable TDP ranges like some desktop Kaveri APUs.

Bristol Ridge is rumored to have some mobile variants, too. The slides posted by BenchLife show seven mobile models that slip into both 15W and 35W TDPs, and those power envelopes can be further configured upwards and downwards to some degree. The top-end 35W part will supposedly have a 3 GHz base speed and a 3.7 GHz turbo clock with a TDP of 25 to 45W, and it has the same core and cache configuration as the top-end desktop parts.

If all these rumors pan out, the boost in clock speeds alone could make Bristol Ridge mobile APUs a fair amount faster than existing Carrizo APUs. In AMD's call, Kumar said that the company has taped out "multiple products in the last few months" on a FinFET process (presumably GlobalFoundries' 14-nanometer process) and notes that once a design has taped out, it typically takes 12-14 months for it to hit the market. While BenchLife's leaked slides don't specifically mention FinFET designs, the higher clocks and lower power consumption may imply these chips will serve as a testing ground for the more advanced manufacturing technique.

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