AMD teases Zen silicon at its Computex 2016 press conference

Computex 2016 – AMD showed off a brief glimpse of its next-generation Zen CPU during its Computex press conference today. Zen cores will make their way into a family of chips code-named Summit Ridge, and AMD CEO Lisa Su says those chips will have up to eight cores and sixteen threads. We already know that Summit Ridge chips will drop into AMD's future Socket AM4 and its associated platform.

AMD is still remaining mum about many of the details surrounding Zen and Summit Ridge, but the company says it's still targeting a 40% instructions-per-clock increase with the new part. AMD also plans to scale Zen from embedded applications to notebook-, server-, and desktop-class parts. Sampling of Zen chips to the company's largest partners will begin in the coming weeks, and broader sampling will begin in Q3 2016. The company didn't provide any indication of when retail Zen parts would become available.

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    • ronch
    • 4 years ago

    Amidst all the fanfare, excitement, and controversy surrounding Zen these days, i think I’m still one of those guys who think Bulldozer is still one of the most interesting architdctures ever. Yes i know it was a commercial failure AMD is eager to forget all about and it didn’t really have what it takes to carry AMD forward, but it is nonetheless a leading edge design and powerful in its own right. It did what it was meant to do, and who knows what else it could’ve been if GF was able to fab it at 22nm and below instead of being stuck at 28nm forever.

    So as the curtains close for Bulldozer and it gallops off into the sunset, many thoughts and memories fill my mind. How do its engineers feel? How does it feel to have been part of one of the most disastrous projects that almost sunk AMD? Where’s Dirk now? What was Hector thinking when BD’s specs were frozen under his watch? Is he playing the guitar as i type this? I think Mike Butler, BD chief dude, is already working for Samsung. I wonder how he is.

    Edit – yeah, ‘ponderous’ is way off. Sorry, made that post in the early morning hours.

      • auxy
      • 4 years ago

      I don’t think ‘[url=https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ponderous<]ponderous[/url<]' is the word you wanted... (*'β–½') I know what you mean tho. I hope Bristol Ridge comes to the desktop so we can really play with it. I always feel this way about 'bad'/underperforming/niche hardware tho. I was playing with a Matrox Parhelia long after it was relevant just to see what it could do.

        • ronch
        • 4 years ago

        Conflicting statements re. BR, I think. IIRC it was supposed to come to AM4, which is decidedly desktop but now we hear it’s focusing on mobile. Given how Chorizo was mobile except for one lone desktop SKU, BR being focused on mobile comes as no surprise. But why did AMD say it’s coming out for AM4? Maybe we’ll just have a coup!e of BR desktop SKUs? Seems likely given how BR shouldn’t be a big seller. AMD surely knows this. They know everyone is looking at Zen. BR is just a stopgap for people with AM4 boards.

        But with AM4 nowhere to be found, im guessing AMD will skip BR for AM4 and release AM4 alongside Zen, using this time to polish the platform. No sense releasing AM4 without Zen anyway.

          • auxy
          • 4 years ago

          I think Bristol Ridge APUs will still launch for the desktop alongside the AM4 platform and Summit Ridge CPUs, because I think AMD feels weird about launching a desktop platform without any chips that have integrated graphics when all of their competitors’ products do.

            • ronch
            • 4 years ago

            BR will be a stopgap to Raven Ridge, not Summit Ridge. People seem to forget that.

    • mkk
    • 4 years ago

    I’ve been more eager to see some motherboard leaks / tidbits for a while. The CPU will be fine.

      • ronch
      • 4 years ago

      [url<]http://wccftech.com/amd-am4-motherboard-bristol-ridge-apu-spotted/[/url<]

    • chuckula
    • 4 years ago

    OK, I know Zen is the exciting thing here but uh… They talked about Bristol Ridge but only mentioned a couple of notebook parts that are basically just a tweaked version of last year’s Chorrizo.

    So has anybody actually seen an AM4 motherboard or socketed Bristol Ridge APU that was supposed to launch?

    Bueller?

    • Waco
    • 4 years ago

    Is anyone else concerned at the wording here?

    “40% more IPC” doesn’t mean 40% better IPC [i<]with one thread[/i<]. If it's an aggregate, it's not going to solve any of AMD's current issues. It could simply be a few more execution resources combined with their SMT implementation and a crappy code path that benefits from SMT. Sigh. Even AMD is making me a pessimist of AMD these days.

      • chuckula
      • 4 years ago

      20% better IPC.
      20% from hyperthreading (YMMV of course).

      40%: DONE.

        • Waco
        • 4 years ago

        Or, 40% from SMT, not much in terms of single-thread IPC.

        AMD, why do you do this to me?

          • blastdoor
          • 4 years ago

          wait a second here….

          Could Zen just be a change in marketing? What they previously called modules, they now call cores? So an 8 core Zen is what would have previously been called a 16 core Abu Dhabi? And what was once called CMT is now called SMT?

          And the CEO named Hector Ruiz is now named Lisa Su?

            • Waco
            • 4 years ago

            I’m not quite that pessimistic. πŸ™‚

            • blastdoor
            • 4 years ago

            Whew!

    • ronch
    • 4 years ago

    I’ve always said that AMD needs more than 40% better IPC (at 4GHz) if they wanna pull alongside the 6700K. I reckon they need 75% better IPC than Excavator. Skylake has 2x the IPC of Piledriver.

    I’ve also always said that in order for them to be ‘back’ and make big profits they NEED to change their market position. They can’t command high prices if they’re behind Intel. Intel can simply drop prices and push AMD’s prices down too. And fact is, Intel sets prices, not AMD. So it’s not enough that AMD simply matches Intel’s previous generation; they need to match their current chips. Heck, even if Zen perfectly matches Skylake AMD will likely still have to price lower otherwise people who are partial to neither company will simply get Intel. Intel still holds much better mindshare. They’re still the de facto choice for most people. AMD will have to price lower to entice buyers to get the alternative.

    And of course, there’s the chipset. In the server space you also have to have a solid chipset. In this regard, Intel’s chipsets are a proven commodity while AMD’s upcoming chipset for Zen, no matter how reliable it really is, isn’t really something IT guys would bet their jobs on, at least not yet. The performance and reliability of chipsets are important to desktop users, but in the server space chipsets are critical components. A bug in a desktop chipset will probably make you lose a couple hours worth of work, but in a server environment, it could be disastrous.

    I didn’t say all this to deter people from getting Zen for servers though. It’s just the reality. Still, AMD has lots of server and supercomputer experience, so perhaps there’s no reason to think Zen will be any different in terms of RAS.

      • w76
      • 4 years ago

      I agree, but would make a couple different points:

      1. In the past, AMD has dropped the ball a bit in terms of taking advantage of being capacity constrained; when they sold out of parts, that means they left a little margin on the table. If they have a decently performing part, depending on how much demand they expect they might not need to discount quite as much as we think. Selling out with the lowest possible discount is the ideal. They have to not let an inferiority complex sneak in to pricing decisions.

      2. I’d also suggest Intel would be suicidal to truly drive a pricing stake through AMD’s heart. In fact, one way to view Broadwell-E’s price increase (and probably other increases to come in the future) is to, in part, give AMD additional breathing space. It’s probably less likely to get anti-trust regulators ire (I’m talking mostly the fine-happy EU here) with a little overpricing than it is to have your only serious competitor die, leaving you as the monopoly. At the same time, AMD might have such small market share as to barely make a dent.

      3. Further to the market share and their capacity to supply the market, AMD can’t work competitive magic for us consumers (in terms of forcing Intel to innovate and pushing down overall market prices) until they’ve grown enough for Intel to truly take notice. If Uber was 1 guy offering cheap rides, taxi companies wouldn’t care, to draw an analogy. It’s that there’s thousands of Uber’s that make it a real threat.

        • ronch
        • 4 years ago

        Yeah, I think AMD is aware of ditching their “we’re the cheaper option” mentality but their strategy regarding the RX 480 seems to suggest they couldn’t resist pricing low. It’s in their DNA, me thinks.

        Intel wkll probably not push AMD down the price list but they could if they wanted to. Offering a superior product somehow shields you from this bullet. Somehow.

        Manufacturing capacity has always been AMD’s problem during big new product launches. Happened with K6 onwards. Even when they still had their own fabs. Now it’s even worse as they have to share fab capacity with everyone else who isn’t an IDM. Bulldozer and recent APUs didn’t expose that because they weren’t very much in demand, but if Zen turns out to be a blockbuster the problem of fab capacity will become much more obvious.

      • Krogoth
      • 4 years ago

      At least AMD isn’t stuck with Via chipsets. πŸ˜‰

    • derFunkenstein
    • 4 years ago

    [quote<] AMD teases Zen silicon[/quote<] You run slow and your momma dresses you funny!

    • kuttan
    • 4 years ago

    I sincerely hope Zen CPU launch wont be too late resulting DOA.

    • Kretschmer
    • 4 years ago

    By the time this lands in Q1 or Q2 2017, it will be DoA. AMD, quit the x86 race already and focus on killer GPUs.

      • NTMBK
      • 4 years ago

      Because Intel have some massive leap forward in CPU performance up their sleeve…?

        • Kretschmer
        • 4 years ago

        No, because it’s unlikely that AMD will deliver a part competitive with Haswell on all fronts (single-threaded/multi-threaded/power scaling), let along the incremental improvements since then. The RTG pushes interesting and consumer-friendly tech like Freesync, while the CPU and platform guys are always dropping the ball on delivering me-too knockoffs.

        I’d rather see a revitalized GPU division with more resources thrown at top-notch GPUs and software than two starved product lines.

          • jts888
          • 4 years ago

          Zen will easily compete with Haswell on single/multi-threaded perf. and power, and if it comes even remotely close to Broadwell on perf/Watt, it will take a huge chunk of sales from Intel in enterprise.

          Broadwell-EP (Xeon E5 v4) was a fairly disappointing generation with not nearly as much perf/Watt growth over Haswell-EP as I expected from a node shrink.

            • chΒ΅ck
            • 4 years ago

            i admire your confidence

            • jts888
            • 4 years ago

            Haswell is a 3-4 year older architecture than Zen, and despite popular opinion, AMD isn’t actually bad at engineering.

            They just made some disastrously wrong predictions about the directions of the software market circa 2008 and didn’t have the resources to back their way out after things started to look like they wouldn’t work out.

            • w76
            • 4 years ago

            The Redstone ICBM, which put Mercury in to orbit, is a 58 year old design that we’ve long since discarded. That doesn’t mean North Korea has been able to produce anything half as reliable. Likewise, because Haswell is an older architecture from Intel doesn’t mean anything at all about AMD’s (or any third party) ability to engineer a similar product. The difference in R&D budgets is astounding.

            • jts888
            • 4 years ago

            I’d argue that CPUs are more akin to cars in technological maturity.

            Some company can spend billions on trying to get a 2% m.p.g. advantage, but consumers preference for efficiency is largely overshadowed by concern over features and unit pricing.

            It’s not like K10’s pipeline was all that bad 5 years ago either.

            • brucethemoose
            • 4 years ago

            They didn’t just mispredict. They were late.

            Bulldozer would’ve been OK if it went up against Gulftown… And it wasn’t broken. Instead it ended up competing with SB/IB, and even then they had to patch it up later (piledriver).

            • Anonymous Coward
            • 4 years ago

            Strange world we live in, some people expect things to be junk after 3 or 4 years, as if the rate of progress is so high that amazing engineering achievements of a few years ago would be the high school projects of today’s kids.

            • Welch
            • 4 years ago

            That and they didn’t have a CEO who is an engineer, all of the previous big wigs were glorified salesmen.

          • Anonymous Coward
          • 4 years ago

          The vast majority of human activity is spent doing unremarkable things, making “knockoffs” and other non-heroic products/services. A certain number of people demand nothing less of AMD than to conquest the market with pure shirt-tearing magical awesomeness. Testosterone and chest hair is the way to crush Intel’s vast business.

          If any investors wanted to apply more resources on AMD’s GPU’s to realize their hidden potential, AMD would doubtless accept the investment. Lack of resources suggests that people with resources to invest don’t think AMD is a good place to put them.

          If I were an investor, I’d be pretty keen on Zen and a sensible approach to competition.

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      APUs were what floated them for a while…You need CPUs for those regardless. Unless they start cross licencing with Intel.

      • albundy
      • 4 years ago

      if they do that, then you’ll probably have to mortgage that next intel cpu.

    • Ochadd
    • 4 years ago

    Does a 40% IPC increase even come close to closing in on Intel anymore? The general public is served by smart phones and virtually any quad core released in the last 5 years. AMD can play in that space fine. From the most powerful server systems on the planet on down to enthusiast gaming PCs Intel has that world in it’s pocket. AMD is talking about releasing 8 cores while Intel has 22 core multi-socket capable CPUs already running in production equipment.

    Maybe Intel hitting whatever fundamental/atomic hurdles first will provide AMD time. We all better hope so. $1700 Core i7 released this week? Intel can charge whatever they want now.

      • Delta9
      • 4 years ago

      Summit Ridge with 8 cores is a desktop chip. The 22 core Intel chip you speak of is a Xeon server chip. AMD alluded to a 32 core server chip with 8 channel memory, which may or may come to pass, however comparing a mainstream desktop chip to a server chip is apples to oranges. The 8 core Zen would be in competition with the 6700k or maybe the entry level socket 2011 chip. And if the performance is decent, the increased core count could force Intel to stop jacking up the prices of their mainstream i5s and i7s.

        • Kretschmer
        • 4 years ago

        How is $200 for an i5 a “jacked up” price?

          • kuttan
          • 4 years ago

          Its expensive because a 45nm, 296mm2 die based Core i5 750 with BCLK overclocking support on any chipset for it costed you the same $200 thanks to some form of competition from AMD at that period of time. Now with much smaller manufacturing node for the same die area Intel can pack more cores, support for overclocking by way of Bclk at least and if it still costing the same $200 then Intel CPUs are not expensive and is a consumer friendly CPU.

        • Ochadd
        • 4 years ago

        You can run that 22 core CPU in a desktop. When you’re talking technology you have to look at what its capabilities are and not where the company chose to market it. How many times in the past have enthusiasts run Xeons and Opterons in desktops? It shows capabilities regardless of where they fall in the product stack.

          • Delta9
          • 4 years ago

          So you think comparing a $5,000 server chip with a most likely sub $300 desktop chip is a valid? I don’t know anyone running a desktop with a $5,000 CPU, much less 2-4 of them. BTW at 2.2ghz that Xeon is going to be beaten badly in most desktop applications by Intel’s own desktop product. This is due to simply much higher clocks and the fact that most software is not using more than 4 cores. As for the jacked up prices comment, I purchased a i7 2600k within 2 weeks of its release for $270. The 6700k is $350 at Newegg, despite being made on a smaller yet mature process. The less competitive AMD has been the more Intel has felt free to let prices creep up, while performance improvements have been mostly single digits from year to year. What Intel has done is focus on power consumption, which is laudable, but that is not a performance metric that benefits me. My point is that a competitive AMD is good for the consumers, and comparing a $5,000 server chip to a desktop chips is pointless. If you want an apples to apples comparison, wait for the 32 core/64 thread version that is made to compete with Xeon. Its like comparing a Civic to a Bentley and then declaring Honda sucks.

            • Ochadd
            • 4 years ago

            I’m comparing the best Intel can bring to bare compared to AMD. The point is that AMD is several generations behind Intel and you’re kidding yourself if you think they will compete. Should I have compared a four year old 8/16 core Opteron instead? The best Opteron money can buy gets beaten by a four year old eight core Xeon.

            I care about gaming performance and Hyper-V scaling. AMD CPUs are not relevant to me. They have not been relevant for years and won’t be for years to come. AMD is the Civic you buy because you can’t afford a Chevy. Intel is Bentley and every other car that costs more than $30,000.

            AMD! For when you can settle.

    • ronch
    • 4 years ago

    How long does it take from sampling to actual availability? Doesn’t look like Zen will be tucked under the Christmas tree this year.

      • just brew it!
      • 4 years ago

      Yeah, that’s how I’m reading this too. Very unfortunate, as it probably represented their best chance at returning to profitability this year. By Christmas 2017 Intel will have already moved to counter Zen (assuming it even needs countering).

      Oh well, at least I’m in no hurry to do a new build. I can wait until next spring to see if Zen is potentially worth getting.

      Edit: At least it says they will be sampling to the larger OEMs sooner. So maybe we’ll see a few systems trickle out from the likes of HP by the end of the year.

      • the
      • 4 years ago

      Something like 9 months with all things going right with validation. This could be a bit higher as AMD is introducing a new platform at the same time which hans’t been released to the general public (where are socket AM4 systems?).

      AMD could have tried a rapid release by making Zen parts a drop in replacement for mobile Excavator but I haven’t heard either way that this is the case.

        • ronch
        • 4 years ago

        Yup. Lots of risks with Zen. New platform, new process node, new core, and practically the most ambitious project AMD has ever embarked on, at the same time they don’t really have all the money for R&D these days. Really, really risky. But if they can pull it off it’s literally gonna be a miracle. Crossed fingers.

    • ronch
    • 4 years ago

    [quote<]STILL targeting a 40%...[/quote<] Hmm.... most unhappy with this hint here.

      • just brew it!
      • 4 years ago

      At some point, being 40% faster than their previous generation becomes irrelevant. It had better not slip any further out; Intel isn’t standing still (though they’ve definitely slowed down).

        • jts888
        • 4 years ago

        Intel’s integer IPC growth has been horrid for several years excluding gains from special acceleration blocks for things like AES.

        Skylake was a completely failed “tock” from an IPC perspective, compared to Haswell, Sandy Bridge, and Nehalem.

        Catching up to Haswell IPC puts AMD in solid “good enough” territory until at least 2018 for Icelake.

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      I thought a few days ago there were some articles with Lisa saying they had achieved over the targeted 40%. Maybe the “hint” is just the target has not slipped.

        • ronch
        • 4 years ago

        Yeah. They were saying it’ll go toe-to-toe with Skylake or something like being twice as fast as an 8350 (the 6700K is twice as fast as the 8350).

        Bottomline, there seems to be a lot of confusion and technically conflicting statements about Zen’s tape out/release date and performance. The optimist in me hopes it’s just AMD’s way of confusing Intel. Thing is, it’s confusing us too.

          • tipoo
          • 4 years ago

          I can’t bring myself to hope for Skylake class, but honestly if it hits Haswell-like per core performance and offers 8 of them for a reasonable price, that could be tempting enough.

            • jts888
            • 4 years ago

            The clock-for-clock difference between Haswell and Skylake is 10% at best and closer to 5% for most benchmarks, so it’s hard for me to care very much at this point.

    • just brew it!
    • 4 years ago

    After just having done battle with the craptastic ASMedia USB 3.0 controller on my motherboard (I eventually caved and installed a PCIe card based on an NEC chipset), all I can say is they’d better have their act together on the chipset at launch. The rumor that the new chipset has been outsourced to ASMedia does not inspire confidence.

      • anotherengineer
      • 4 years ago

      Indeed. Had good luck with Renesas/NEC USB 3.0.

      Odd thing is, their A88 hudson chipset has USB 3.0, which I thought was their own native design??

        • just brew it!
        • 4 years ago

        It still could be. The ASMedia outsourcing thing is just a rumor AFAIK (albeit a credible one), and even if true, it is possible that only certain parts of the design have been outsourced. E.g. maybe they’re grafting an AMD-designed USB controller block to an ASMedia SATA controller block, or something.

      • ronch
      • 4 years ago

      AMD probably chose the cheapest USB 3.0 tech licensor they can find. I wonder if they also licensed someone’s USB 2.0 tech.

      Edits – licensee changed to licensor and… Google Keyboard seems to take the liberty to just delete words I’ve already typed.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 4 years ago

    Sounds like Q1 2017 general availability to me…hopefully they manage a christmas launch…

    • chuckula
    • 4 years ago

    [quote<]Sampling of Zen chips to the company's largest partners will begin in the coming weeks, and broader sampling will begin in Q3 [b<][i<]2017[/b<][/i<]. [/quote<] A bit of a Freudian slip there πŸ˜‰

      • Jeff Kampman
      • 4 years ago

      Whoops, fixed.

        • chuckula
        • 4 years ago

        It’s OK, you are jet lagged.

          • Klimax
          • 4 years ago

          That’s hell of jet-lag…

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 4 years ago

      I think Jeff just knows something we don’t.

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