Home Zen 2-based Ryzen and Epyc processors are coming this summer

Zen 2-based Ryzen and Epyc processors are coming this summer

Zak Killian Former Tech Contributor Author expertise
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After the Radeon VII demo at its CES 2019 keynote, AMD CEO Lisa Su talked a bit more about gaming and then moved straight into the Zen 2 reveal. The new CPU core will naturally be finding its way into both datacenter and desktop processors, and AMD talked a bit about both. The company also demoed some early Socket AM4 silicon for us.

The first thing AMD said about its next-generation Epyc processors is that they'll offer double the performance per socket compared to the previous-generation Epyc chips, and specifically quadruple the floating-point performance. The new chips are, naturally, fabricated on TSMC's 7-nm process, and as we heard before, they'll offer up to 64 cores in a single socket.

AMD showed a brief demo of a single 64-core Epyc processor running a NAMD molecular dynamics simulation in direct comparison against a machine with two 28-core Xeon Platinum 8180 chips. Given the highly-parallel nature of the NAMD software, it's not too surprising that the 64-core Epyc walked away with a decisive victory, but the circa-20% performance advantage for the Epyc is a good bit greater than the simple difference in core counts (64 vs. 56) would imply.

Lisa Su hyped up the crowd a bit before announcing a preview of the third-generation Ryzen desktop processors. Unsurprisingly, they'll be designated the Ryzen 3000 series, and like the Epyc chips above, will be based on 7-nm Zen 2 cores.

The company started off with a brief gaming demo focused around Forza Horizon 4, where a Ryzen 3000-series machine with a Radeon VII graphics card was able to maintain over 110 FPS in the game running at 1920×1080 resolution with graphics settings at maximum. While that may not sound all that impressive on the face of it, high-refresh gaming requires strong single-threaded performance, and keeping the resolution relatively low helps emphasize the CPU over the GPU.

Afterward, AMD demonstrated a bit of early third-generation Ryzen silicon running Cinebench R15 alongside an Intel Core i9-9900K doing the same. Lisa noted that the eight-core Ryzen processor was pre-release silicon running non-final frequencies. Despite that, AMD's chip posted up a score of 2057, trumping the Core i9's 2040 score. That's in the ballpark of the 2072 score we measured for the Core i9-9900K, and so this test paints the upcoming Ryzen chips in a fair light—at least as far as Cinebench is concerned.

The more impressive part of this presentation is that AMD showed power consumption numbers for these systems on screen. The Intel machine purportedly drew around 180 W during the demonstration, while AMD's pre-release chip apparently pulled only around 135 W. That's a remarkable claimed advantage in power efficiency, although that's more or less what we would expect from chips on a next-generation fabrication process.

Dr. Su concluded the presentation by holding up a delidded Ryzen 3000 processor for the crowd to ogle. Seeing the chip laid bare—sorry, that is, the chips—all but confirmed what many in the enthusiast community had suspected: Ryzen processors on Socket AM4 are getting their I/O duties shunted off to a separate die, just like their server-bound cousins above. The smaller of the two dice is the eight-core compute chiplet, while the larger die handles the memory interface, PCI Express 4.0, and other I/O duties.

A render of one of the Ryzen 3000-series processors. Source: AMD

Rumors had indicated that AMD would be launching 16-core processors for Socket AM4, but there was no mention of any such thing today; the chip pictured above is an eight-core model. However, there appears to be room in the package for a second compute chiplet. It's possible that AMD could release a "mini-Ripper" using two 8-core dice inside the same package. The presence of the I/O die could make slotting such a product into existing AM4 boards a whole lot simpler.

Source: AMD

Lisa Su remarked that the upcoming Ryzen 3000 chips will be a drop-in upgrade for folks on existing Socket AM4 machines, although doing so will likely mean missing out on PCI Express 4.0—not that that's likely to make any real difference for most users. AMD says that new boards with PCIe 4.0 support will be available around the same time as the new CPUs, in the summer of this year. Given that we're a ways out from the new chips, the company hasn't breathed a word about prices yet.

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Zak Killian Former Tech Contributor

Zak Killian Former Tech Contributor

Zak Killian is a tech writer and expert on all things PC. He has written extensively about PC gaming, from graphics cards and monitors to game reviews and the latest news in the gaming world.