AMD’s new ‘Zen’ Architecture confirmed

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It looks like AMD is aiming for the top spot once more. The chip manufacturer recently announced that they are developing a new high-performance x86 core, essentially replacing the current generation Steamroller, Piledriver and Bulldozer lineup.

Called Zen, the new 14nm x86 micro-architecture is expected to launch in 2016–2017. It will also do away with the existing architecture design and opt for what they call an SMT or Simultaneous Multi-Threading design. This is a technology similar to how hyper-threading works. Previously, AMD had their own version of a rival for Intel’s SMT called the CMT or Clustered Multi-Threading. Sadly, when released it was seen as an impractical idea by critics.

Image taken from http://www.guru3d.com
Image taken from http://www.guru3d.com

There’s no concrete details on the numbers or performance we can expect but at least we know that they haven’t abandoned the high-performance enthusiasts (yet). We can however, assume that the Zen architecture will be the equivalent of what the Phenom lineup was back in the day which means powerful energy-efficient processing.

Delving into the technical side a bit more, the Zen architecture is built on a GlobalFoundries 14 nanometer FinFET node fabrication. Supported processors can run both DR3 and DDR4 RAM. AMD claims that the new lineup will be true quad-core CPUs meaning that the four units are not clusters or modules with two cores per module but rather 4 cores that share no hardware components with each other, aside from the L3 cache. Each core gets a dedicated L2 cache of 512 KB and a shared L3 cache of 8MB L3 pool.

Image taken from http://www.guru3d.com
Image taken from http://www.guru3d.com

However, there’s still a lot of work to be done and the architecture still far from being perfect. With a launch date set for 2016-2017, the interesting question is whether or not a quad core is enough to compete with Intel, especially now that they launched their Haswell-E Octa-core (8 cores) design.

 

 

 

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