Friday, February 12th 2016

AMD "Zen" Processors to Feature SMT, Support up to 8 DDR4 Memory Channels

CERN engineer Liviu Valsan, in a recent presentation on datacenter hardware trends, presented a curious looking slide that highlights some of the key features of AMD's upcoming "Zen" CPU architecture. We know from a recent story that the architecture is scalable up to 32 cores per socket, and that AMD is building these chips on the 14 nanometer FinFET process.

Among the other key features detailed on the slide are symmetric multi-threading (SMT). Implemented for over a decade by Intel as HyperThreading Technology, SMT exposes a physical core as two logical CPUs to the software, letting it make better use of the hardware resources. Another feature is talk of up to eight DDR4 memory channels. This could mean that AMD is readying a product to compete with the Xeon E7 series. Lastly, the slide mentions that "Zen" could bring about IPC improvements that are 40 percent higher than the current architecture.

Source: HotHardware
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130 Comments on AMD "Zen" Processors to Feature SMT, Support up to 8 DDR4 Memory Channels

#1
Parn
40% IPC improvement over A10-7870K. Hope this is true as it will definitely bring Zen on par with Haswell at minimum.
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#2
Kurt Maverick
This all sounds great, but this isn't the first time AMD promises the moon only to end up delivering...well, Bulldozer.

Besides, AMD is merely catching up with Intel with that "SMT" and "40% more IPC" that they mention so much (the extra IPC comes most surely from fixing the Bulldozer mess and implementing one FPU per core). They're lucky that Intel are so technologically stagnated as of currently, if not AMD could probably never catch up with them in terms of performance.

Zen has a good chance on fixing the bad picture I currently have about AMD due to the Bulldozer fiasco. Let's hope they don't drop the ball again.

BTW, I'd really love to know how many PCIe lanes will Zen CPU's have....
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#3
Kurt Maverick
Parn said:
40% IPC improvement over A10-7870K. Hope this is true as it will definitely bring Zen on par with Haswell at minimum.
The difference between Haswell and Skylake is pretty low anyway....if Zen reaches the same level as Haswell does, they may as well reach even Kaby Lake's performance (which, let's face it, they will most surely be merely a Skylake bugfix).

To be honest, I don't see even Cannonlake reaching a big performance leap. If the difference between 28 nm and 14 is that minimum, from 14 to 10 it'll probably be even less.

I'm not putting myself in AMD's side anyway...it's only natural for progress to be slower as silicon limits are reached. AMD is just catching up to Intel with Zen after Intel already reached the goal line, that's all.
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#4
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
Now we just need a new Crysis to make a mass appealing need of performance.
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#5
EntropyZ
@Frick Doesn't The Witcher III already use a bunch of CPU resources at highest settings? But yes I agree, software in the current decade is lagging behind to the point where my old i5-2400 can run almost anything, while hardware has seen a fair share of improvement, all that strength that's provided is almost always never fully utilized by games on PC. This and bad PC ports, little to no optimization and game developers preferring to make game titles run better for certain hardware, makes me think that triple AAA titles lack innovation and game developers have become lazy or they're pushed by the publishers to release turds as fast as they can and we know how well all that turns out.

I guess I want to see another one of those "killer apps", but you have to remember "according to EA" *cringe* Crysis didn't sell well at all. I wonder how much it would have sold if Crysis was released 4-5 years ago, during the time which the majority of people still had interest in First Person Shooters. Someone would really have to think everything through before even engaging in development.

OT: To me personally "Zen" just looks too good to be true since it has been a long time since I've seen a good CPU improvement over AMD Phenom offerings. Like most people, I will wait for some game benches and either be blown away, or just keep shaking my head in disappointment.

Going Phenom II X6 -> I5-2400 didn't seem like much of an upgrade for me, but I was wrong since most games still run better on Intel hardware for some obvious reasons and some that are unknown to me.

My expectations are: A reasonably priced, four core 95W TDP CPU that's on par with a "Haswell" i5 in game performance. Not a very tall order, they should be able to pull it off and hopefully they do.

From my point of view it doesn't even look like Intel and AMD are competing in the consumer/enthusiast market anymore (did I miss something?). It's just AMD playing in Intel's sandbox and it's looks plain embarrassing to me. I don't think it's good for them, and definitely not good for us consumers, but most people here know that already.
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#6
cdawall
where the hell are my stars
Now I am curious if this hints at 8 channel memory in the same way the current opterons have quad channel. Which is really just two dual channel controllers for the currents is two 4 channels for zen
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#7
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
cdawall said:
Now I am curious if this hints at 8 channel memory in the same way the current opterons have quad channel. Which is really just two dual channel controllers for the currents is two 4 channels for zen
You mean just like how the 16c Opterons are just two 8c dies in one? That could indicate 16c and quad channel consumer CPUs.
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#8
RejZoR
Sounds good. Just bring it already AMD!
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#9
Caring1
AMD still playing catch up.
A 40% improvement in IPC will still leave them behind Intel.
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#10
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
Caring1 said:
AMD still playing catch up.
A 40% improvement in IPC will still leave them behind Intel.
Which should come as no surprise. I'm just hoping the overclocking will be there.
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#11
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
Parn said:
40% IPC improvement over A10-7870K. Hope this is true as it will definitely bring Zen on par with Haswell at minimum.
Yeah, per core, at a given clock speed. It's not that an 8-core Zen will be just 40% "better" than a 7870K.
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#12
Caring1
I'm not betting on it with up to 32 cores, they will probably limit that to keep heat down.
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#13
Steevo
I'm betting on a modular design, 16 core 32thread 4channel enthusiast chip, each set of four cores features a channel, so dual channel 8 core standard desktop part, and single channel quad core or lower parts. I would also bet they have the ability to turn single cores off based on core metrics to allow other cores to run higher boost speeds.
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#14
jmcslob
So 4 modules 16 cores quad channel memory @ 3200mhz and I bet it will compete with an i5...is my best guess
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#15
ShurikN
Parn said:
40% IPC improvement over A10-7870K. Hope this is true as it will definitely bring Zen on par with Haswell at minimum.
Hasn't AMD already claimed that the 40% improvement was compared to Excavator, or am I mistaken. A10-7870 is steamroller as far as I recall.
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#16
HD64G
If the 40+% increase on average performance from Kaveri is true, it will for sure shake Intel from its throne since the modular design will make it easy for AMD to cover all price and performance points quick enough. I just hope they start selling having a halo product which shows off they are in the game again and a few cpus in the $100-200 price range to allow anyone who sees that the halo cpu is great to go and buy and build up the momentum AMD needs. It is almost sure that with Samsung's 14nm tech they will make a decent product. I wish they make a great product though.
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#17
ZeDestructor
cdawall said:
Now I am curious if this hints at 8 channel memory in the same way the current opterons have quad channel. Which is really just two dual channel controllers for the currents is two 4 channels for zen
By and large that's how the higher core count Xeons (10+cores) are setup, with a pair of dual-channel controllers wired into 2 QPI rings (one for the local cluster, one for the whole chip). The difference is small between that setup and the single quad-channel setup of a low core count chip due to a combination of being so close and fairly large caches (2.5MB per core)
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#18
Patriot
ZeDestructor said:
By and large that's how the higher core count Xeons (10+cores) are setup, with a pair of dual-channel controllers wired into 2 QPI rings (one for the local cluster, one for the whole chip). The difference is small between that setup and the single quad-channel setup of a low core count chip due to a combination of being so close and fairly large caches (2.5MB per core)
Since amd is using a modular 4c unit I would imagine they will also be using a ringbus to connect to memory controllers.

4c-32c chips designs available...
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#19
truth teller
even if this info is the top specs for server grade skus, the "consumer grade" will probably still be appealing to me.
dont fail me now amd, i wanna make a custom thin mini-itx build (apu powered with ac wifi) that packs a punch and i can still "haul" it whenever needed between places (only 4 cables on each place needed: pwr, kb, mouse, hdmi; kinda like with a docking station and a laptop) without having to carry it on a bag on on my shoulder.
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#20
xorbe
I hope it at least closes the performance gap to get within the ballpark.
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#22
GoldenX
I hope it's not a Nuclear FX Reactor. A DDR4 Zen APU sounds like a great low cost/low power upgrade for my old Deneb+HD7750.
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#24
cracklez
It's not just AMD that needs a win this coming next generation, we ALL need it too. If they fail to meet our expectations, I'm afraid that prices will never go down on Intel & Nvidia products for the life of their products, only replaced.
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#25
Kurt Maverick
cracklez said:
It's not just AMD that needs a win this coming next generation, we ALL need it too. If they fail to meet our expectations, I'm afraid that prices will never go down on Intel & Nvidia products for the life of their products, only replaced.
Nvidia has slightly superior but generally fair prices to their producs, it's mainly Intel the ones that are being absolutely abusive and inmobile about them.
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