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AMD Zen3 to Leverage 7nm+ EUV For 20% Transistor Density Increase

AMD "Zen 3" microarchitecture could be designed for the enhanced 7 nm+ EUV (extreme ultraviolet) silicon fabrication node at TSMC, which promises a significant 20 percent increase in transistor densities compared to the 7 nm DUV (deep ultraviolet) node on which its "Zen 2" processors are being built. In addition, the node will also reduce power consumption by up to 10 percent at the same operational load. In a late-2018 interview, CTO Mark Papermaster stated AMD's design goal with "Zen 3" would be to prioritize energy-efficiency, and that it would present "modest" performance improvements (read: IPC improvements) over "Zen 2." AMD made it clear that it won't drag 7 nm DUV over more than one microarchitecture (Zen 2), and that "Zen 3" will debut in 2020 on 7 nm+ EUV.

AMD Re-structures Leadership Team; James Prior Leaves AMD

Let me be the first to say that the two may not be directly related, but it is an awfully strong coincidence that both pieces of news come out on the same day. Indeed, earlier in the day AMD put out a press release (full release past the break) announcing "multiple organizational changes focused on strengthening the company's senior leadership team and accelerating growth." Several familiar names have been promoted within the company to be in charge of more products and visions across their CPU and GPU business units. Mark Papermaster, for example, is now an executive VP as well as CTO of AMD, and the company has also hired in new talent, including industry veteran Sandeep Chennakeshu, as executive VP of "Computing and Graphics responsible for the company's high-performance PC, gaming and semi-custom businesses".

Perhaps all this re-structuring and new hiring comes in handy, at a time when we have seen several people leave AMD for Intel or otherwise. Indeed, shortly after that press release went out, word got to us that James Prior, Senior Product Manager for AMD, and an ardent employee for nearly 6 years, is no longer working for the company. We have no word yet on what is next for James, but it was more than a small surprise to know that the person you just spoke with at CES, and had a long conversation of AMD's desktop processors, is gone just like that. We have known James for many years now, and can attest to his work ethics as well as being a great guy all-round. We wish him the best in his future ventures, and look forward to also seeing how AMD's re-structuring turns out.

AMD CTO Mark Papermaster Confirms 7 nm Lineup Refresh for 2019

AMD's CTO Mark Papermaster, in an interview with TheStreet, confirmed AMD's plans with 7 nm for their graphics offerings are just beginning with Radeon VII. When inquired on AMD's plans for their graphics division, Papermaster said that "What we do over the course of the year is what we do every year. We'll round out the whole roadmap." he then added that "We're really excited to start on the high-end... you'll see the announcements over the course of the year as we round out our Radeon roadmap."

So these comments form papermaster seemingly confirm two things: first, that AMD plans to "round out" its lineup using the 7 nm process technology, which means increasing offerings at different price points. The use of the word "refresh" almost takes the breath away, since refreshes are usually based on the same previous architectures. However, AMD does have plans for a new mid-range chip to finally succeed Polaris in Navi, which should become the next AMD launch in the 7 nm process for graphics technologies.

AMD and Xilinx Announce a New World Record for AI Inference

At today's Xilinx Developer Forum in San Jose, Calif., our CEO, Victor Peng was joined by the AMD CTO Mark Papermaster for a Guinness. But not the kind that comes in a pint - the kind that comes in a record book. The companies revealed the AMD and Xilinx have been jointly working to connect AMD EPYC CPUs and the new Xilinx Alveo line of acceleration cards for high-performance, real-time AI inference processing. To back it up, they revealed a world-record 30,000 images per-second inference throughput!

The impressive system, which will be featured in the Alveo ecosystem zone at XDF today, leverages two AMD EPYC 7551 server CPUs with its industry-leading PCIe connectivity, along with eight of the freshly-announced Xilinx Alveo U250 acceleration cards. The inference performance is powered by Xilinx ML Suite, which allows developers to optimize and deploy accelerated inference and supports numerous machine learning frameworks such as TensorFlow. The benchmark was performed on GoogLeNet, a widely used convolutional neural network.

AMD "Navi" GPU Architecture Successor Codenamed "Arcturus"?

Arcturus is the fourth brightest star in the night sky, and could be the a new GPU architecture by AMD succeeding "Navi," according to a Phoronix report. The codename of Navi-successor has long eluded AMD's roadmap slides. The name "Arcturis" surfaced on Phoronix community forums, from a post by an AMD Linux liaison who is a member there. The codename is also supported by the fact that AMD is naming its GPU architectures after the brightest stars in the sky (albeit in a descending order of their brightness). Polaris is the brightest, followed by Vega, Navi, and Arcturus.

AMD last referenced the Navi-successor on a roadmap slide during its 2017 Financial Analyst Day presentation by Mark Papermaster. That slide mentioned "Vega" to be built on two silicon fabrication processes, 14 nm and "14 nm+." We know now that AMD intends to build a better-endowed "Vega" chip on 7 nm, which could be the world's first 7 nm GPU. "Navi" is slated to be built on 7 nm as the process becomes more prevalent in the industry. The same slide mentions Navi-successor as being built on "7 nm+," which going by convention, could refer to an even more advanced process than 7 nm. Unfortunately, even in 2017, when the industry was a touch more optimistic about 7 nm, AMD expected the Navi-successor to only come out by 2020. We're not holding our breath.

AMD Chip Manufacturing to Lay Solely With TSMC On, After 7 nm - And Why It's not a Decision, but a Necessity

It's been a tumultuous few days for AMD, as the company has seen Jim Anderson, Computing and Graphics Group leader after the departure of Raja Koduri, leave the company, at a time of soaring share value for the company (hitting $25.26 and leaving short positions well, short, by $2.67 billion.) However, there's one particular piece of news that is most relevant for the company: Globalfoundries' announcement to stop all ongoing development on the 7 nm node.

This is particularly important for a variety of reasons. The most important one is this: Globalfoundries' inability to execute on the 7 nm node leaves AMD fully free to procure chips and technology from competing foundries. If you remember, AMD's spin-off of GlobalFoundries left the former with the short end of the stick, having to cater to GlobalFoundries' special pricing, and paying for the privilege of accessing other foundries' inventories. Of course, the Wafer Supply Agreement (WSA) that is in place will have to be amended - again - but the fact is this: AMD wants 7 nm products, and GlobalFoundries can't provide.
To the forumites: this piece is marked as an editorial

Rollercoaster Monday for AMD as it Loses Jim Anderson, Closes Above $25 in Stock Price

It has been a rollercoaster Monday for AMD as it bled yet another bright executive. Jim Anderson, who led Computing and Graphics Group after the departure of Raja Koduri, and who is rumored to have conceived the idea of Threadripper and the client-segment monetization of the "Zen" architecture, left AMD to become CEO of Lattice Semiconductor, a company that designs FPGAs. Anderson will be paid an inducement award of company shares valued up to $2.9 million.

On the same day, AMD stock crossed $25 to close at $25.26 up 5.34 percent, a historic high since way back in 2006 as Intel was beginning to regain its footing with its Core processor family. This raises the company's market cap to $22.9 billion. AMD is better funded than ever (in over 12 years), to start a new GPU project, for example. CTO Mark Papermaster, in a company blog post assured customers that AMD is going all-in with 7 nanometer, and it could bank more heavily on TSMC to achieve its roadmap goals of first-to-market 7 nm CPU and GPU by end of the year.

AMD Announces Steps, Resources for Spectre Mitigations

AMD today announced, via a security blog post penned by their own Mark Papermaster, that they're beginning deployment of mitigations and resources for AMD processors affected by the Spectre exploits. In the blog post, AMD reiterates how exploits based on version 1 of Spectre exploits (GPZ 1 - Google Project Zero Flaw 1) have already been covered by AMD's partners. At the same time, AMD reiterates how their processors are invulnerable to Meltdown exploits (GPZ3), and explains how mitigations for GPZ2 (Spectre) will occur.

These mitigations require a combination of processor microcode updates from OEM and motherboard partners, as well as running the current and fully up-to-date version of Windows. For Linux users, AMD-recommended mitigations for GPZ Variant 2 were made available to Linux partners and have been released to distribution earlier this year.

AMD Confirms They are Affected by Spectre, too

The public disclosure on January 3rd that multiple research teams had discovered security issues related to how modern microprocessors handle speculative execution has brought to the forefront the constant vigilance needed to protect and secure data. These threats seek to circumvent the microprocessor architecture controls that preserve secure data.

At AMD, security is our top priority and we are continually working to ensure the safety of our users as new risks arise. As a part of that vigilance, I wanted to update the community on our actions to address the situation.

AMD to Build "Zen 2" and "Zen 3" Processors on 7 nm Process: CTO

AMD is in no mood to stick to the 14 nm process for as long as Intel has (building four performance x86 CPU micro-architectures on it). In an interview with EE Times, AMD CTO Mark Papermaster confirmed that the company's "Zen 2" and "Zen 3" CPU micro-architectures will be built on the next-generation 7 nm silicon fab process. Transition to the 7 nm process is not as straightforward as optically shrinking your chip designs and shipping them over to your foundry. Apparently it requires big technical changes for the chip design teams, which AMD feels are better executed while it's still riding on the success of its current "Zen" architecture.

"We had to literally double our efforts across foundry and design teams…It's the toughest lift I've seen in a number of generations," said Papermaster. He added that the 7 nm node requires new "CAD tools and [changes in] the way you architect the device [and] how you connect transistors-the implementation and tools change [as well as] the IT support you need to get through it." Papermaster predicts that 7 nm will be a "long node like 28 nm" in that chip designers will have to build several refinements to their designs on the node before the newer 4 nm node could be heralded. He urged semiconductor foundry companies to introduce EUV (extreme ultra-violet lithography), a technique used to etch transistors and circuits at the infinitesimally small 7 nm node, as soon as possible, so AMD could have more options at manufacturing its next generation processors.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES on Track to Deliver Leading-Performance 7nm FinFET Technology

GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced the availability of its 7nm Leading-Performance (7LP) FinFET semiconductor technology, delivering a 40 percent generational performance boost to meet the needs of applications such as premium mobile processors, cloud servers and networking infrastructure. Design kits are available now, and the first customer products based on 7LP are expected to launch in the first half of 2018, with volume production ramping in the second half of 2018.

In September 2016, GF announced plans to develop its own 7nm FinFET technology leveraging the company's unmatched heritage of manufacturing high-performance chips. Thanks to additional improvements at both the transistor and process levels, the 7LP technology is exceeding initial performance targets and expected to deliver greater than 40 percent more processing power and twice the area scaling than the previous 14nm FinFET technology. The technology is now ready for customer designs at the company's leading-edge Fab 8 facility in Saratoga County, N.Y.

"Our 7nm FinFET technology development is on track and we are seeing strong customer traction, with multiple product tapeouts planned in 2018," said Gregg Bartlett, senior vice president of the CMOS Business Unit at GF. "And, while driving to commercialize 7nm, we are actively developing next-generation technologies at 5nm and beyond to ensure our customers have access to a world-class roadmap at the leading edge."

AMD Doesn't Regret Spinning off GlobalFoundries

AMD co-founder Jerry Sanders, in 2009 was famously quoted as stating that "real men have fabs," a jibe probably targeted at the budding fab-less CPU designers of the time. Years later, AMD spun-off its silicon fabrication business, which with a substantial investment of the Abu Dhabi government through its state-owned Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), became GlobalFoundries (or GloFo in some vernacular). This company built strategic partnerships with the right players in the industry, acquisitions such as IBM's fabs, and is now at the forefront of sub-10 nm fab development. It remained one of AMD's biggest foundry partners besides TSMC and Samsung, and is manufacturing its AMD processors at a brand new facility in Upstate New York, USA.

AMD, on the other hand, doesn't regret spinning off GloFo. Speaking at Merrill Lynch Global Technology and Investment Conference, CTO Mark Papermaster said, that going fab-less has helped AMD focus on chip-design without worrying about manufacturing. Production is no longer a bottleneck for AMD, as it can now put out manufacturing contracts to a wider variety of foundry partners. Its chip-designers aren't limited by the constraints of an in-house fab, and can instead ask external fabs to optimize their nodes for their chip-designs, Papermaster said. 14 nm FinFET has added a level of standardization to the foundry industry.

AMD Executives Tease Vega Reveal On Today's Event

We've recently covered how AMD was going to have a full day today, with the company's top executives present on a meeting that is expected to build on AMD's product portfolio inflection point. This meeting will bring together most of AMD's higher-ups - namely, CEO Lisa Su, head of Radeon Technologies Group Raja Koduri, and AMD's CTO Mark Papermaster. The purpose of this meeting seems to be to discuss AMD's inflexion point, and lay out a vision for the company's future, supported on its upcoming products: the too-long-awaited Vega, its successor Navi, and the natural evolution of the company's current Zen processors, tentatively identified as Zen+.

Don't expect this to be a full-blown, specification-laden, performance-benchmarks-driven presentation, though. That honor is probably reserved to AMD's Computex 2017 event, scheduled for May 31st from 10 a.m. - 11 a.m.

AMD to Detail Vega, Navi, Zen+ on May 16th - Laying Out a Vision

Reports are circling around the web regarding an AMD meeting featuring some of its higher ups - namely, CEO Lisa Su, head of Radeon Technologies Group Raja Koduri, and AMD's CTO Mark Papermaster happening on the 16th of May. The purpose of this meeting seems to be to discuss AMD's inflexion point, and lay out a vision for the company's future, supported on its upcoming products: the too-long-awaited Vega, its successor Navi, and the natural evolution of the company's current Zen processors, tentatively identified as Zen+.

Naturally, a company such as AMD has its roadmap planned well in advance, with work on next-generation products and technologies sometimes even running in parallel with current-generation product development. It's just a result of the kind of care, consideration, time and money that goes into making new architectures that makes this so. And while some would say Vega is now approaching a state akin to grapes that have been hanging for far too long, AMD's next graphics architecture, Navi, and its iterations on Zen cores, which the company expect to see refreshes in a 3-to-5-year period, are other matters entirely. Maybe we'll have some more details regarding the specific time of Vega's launch (for now expected on Computex), as well as on when AMD is looking to release a Zen+ refresh. I wouldn't expect much with regards to Navi - perhaps just an outline on how work is currently underway with some comments on the expectations surrounding Global Foundries' 7 nm process, on which Navi is expected to be built. And no, folks, this isn't a Vega launch. Not yet.
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