AMD Challenges Intel with Zen Cores Featuring 40% IPC Boost
Samuel Wan / 2 years ago
While AMD’s Financial Analyst Day has not quite yielded the announcements we were hoping for, a critical new CPU architecture has been confirmed. Called Zen, this new CPU architecture will debut in 2016’s high-end FX platform.
Featuring Simultaneous Multithreading (SMT) for the first time Zen will be a much more flexible platform. AMD is also suggesting that up to 40% IPC (Instructions per Clock) gain over Excavator. If that IPC gain be fully realized, that would put Zen at about Sandy/Ivy Bridge levels of IPC, making AMD quite competitive again in the CPU space if clock speeds are decent.
Other improvements include the use of FinFETs, a design process that involves the use of 3D transistors, something that will lead to improved power efficiency. The core has also been revamped to feature improved cache system, a major issue that was present in the Bulldozer series of chips. DDR4 compatibility will also be introduced granting improved memory bandwidth. This makes a lot of sense as the AM4 platform will be shared with the 2016 APUs as well.
A major downer though not unexpected is that the 2016 APUs may not run Zen cores just yet. This may be an issue as this will create a mismatch between the APU and CPU side of things. AMD has previously kept the APU side of things behind the CPU side, but only debuted Steamroller in APUs. AMD has been vague about the APU side so far so maybe the Zen cores might sneak in though that is unlikely.
While it’s great that AMD is finally planning a comeback in the CPU arena, Zen will have to compete against Intel’s Cannon Lake CPU family in 2016. So while AMD may have made a big jump in performance, their target is a moving one. AMD may well catch up as Skylake and Cannon Lake aren’t expected to be high IPC boosters and Intel’s 10nm might be delayed. One year from now, there may well again be competition for desktops CPUs again.