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AMD RYZEN Brand Name of First Enthusiast "ZEN" CPUs

AMD has apparently chosen RYZEN (pronounced "risen") as the marketing name for the first consumer enthusiast processors based on the "ZEN" micro-architecture. Slated for market availability in Q1-2017, the first RYZEN part will feature 8 cores, 16 threads, 20 MB of total cache (8x 512 KB L2 + 2x 8 MB L3), and a clock speed of over 3.40 GHz. The chips will be built in the socket AM4 package, and will be launched alongside a new wave of motherboards with AMD X370 chipset.

Given the relatively modest clock speeds by AMD's standards, it's safe to say that AMD has made big IPC gains, and is now tapping into those gains. Intel, on the other hand, is clocking its upcoming Core i7-7700K at 4.00-4.40 GHz. AMD is also introducing enthusiast-segment features with RYZEN, including XFR (eXtended frequency range), Smart Prefetch, a tightly tuned power-management system built from the ground up, called AMD Pure Power, and its related feature, AMD Precision Boost.
More slides follow.

AMD's VEGA Alive and Well - Announced MI25 VEGA as Deep Learning Accelerator

The team at Videocardz has published a story with some interesting slides regarding AMD's push towards the highly-lucrative deep learning market with their INSTINCT line-up of graphics cards - and VEGA being announced as a full-fledged solution means we are perhaps (hopefully) closer to seeing a solution based on it for the consumer market as well.

Alongside the VEGA-based MI25, AMD also announced the MI6 (5.7 TFLOPS in FP32 operations, with 224 GB/s of memory bandwidth and <150 W of board power), looking suspiciously like a Polaris 10 card in disguise; and the MI8 (which appropriately delivers 8.2 TFLOPS in FP32 computations, as well as 512 GB/s memory bandwidth and <175 W typical board power), with the memory bandwidth numbers being the most telling, and putting the MI8 closely along a Fiji architecture-based solution.

AMD's ZEN-Supporting X370 Motherboards to be Shown at "New Horizon" Event

AMD's December 13th "New Horizon" event is supposedly (and expectedly) a pivotal moment for the company - a celebration of sorts for the impending launch of their ZEN-based microprocessors. The event, which will be presented mainly by Gametrailers TV-based journalist Geoff Keighley, is now turning up to be a Summit Ridge celebration of sorts as well.

According to recent reports, a small number of motherboard manufacturers should also be in attendance at the event, showing-off their AM4-compatible motherboards based on the top-of-the-line X370 chipset. The X370 is the most advanced version of the Zen-compatible chipsets and is expected to provide extensive overclocking features and up to two third-generation PCIe x16 lanes for multi-GPU systems. Below the X370, the B350 and A320 take over the role of the mid-range and entry-level chipsets respectively. The new chipsets are expected to bring native M.2 NVMe & SATA Express connectivity, PCIe gen 3, DDR4 memory compatibility and USB 3.1 Gen2 to the company's high-end desktop platform for the very first time.

AMD "New Horizon" Event to Preview ZEN Processor Mid-December

AMD's next-generation ZEN processor family is bound for a grand entrance this December, with the company planning a special media event that will be live-streamed to the public. Called "New Horizon," AMD is designing the event to be an "exclusive advanced preview" of the processor ahead of its Q1-2017 scheduled launch. The preview will see eSports and Evil Geniuses legend PPD put "Zen" through its paces, according to its announcement. With this AMD appears to be showing off the chip's advanced gaming capabilities. " If you're serious about gaming, this is an event you do not want to miss," AMD's announcement signs off. The event stream goes live on the 13th of December, at 15:00 CST (21:00 hrs UTC).

Netflix has Some Pretty Steep System Requirements for 4K on PC

So everyone wants to crash at your place to watch the latest shows on your 4K Ultra HD TV, you can even "chill" with that special someone, if you can take your eyes off 4K content; and it turns out you even spent $500 on buying a new 4K monitor for your PC, because you demand no less than 3840 x 2160 pixels in front of your face; and among the first things you do (besides heading over to Interfacelift for some great wallpapers), is Netflix. Only Netflix has other ideas.

Apparently, you need a 7th generation Core "Kaby Lake" processor (or possibly AMD's upcoming "ZEN" processor), Windows 10 operating system, and Microsoft Edge web-browser to get 4K to work right on your PC, according to a Tom's Hardware report. Two factors could be pushing these steep-requirements - HEVC CODEC hardware acceleration, and hardware-level DRM features being introduced with "Kaby Lake." HEVC could prove crucial for Netflix as streaming 4K in existing H.264 format could quadruple bandwidth consumption over Full HD. HEVC encoding lets Netflix minimize the bitrate greatly. For Netflix's DRM component to access the CPU's hardware DRM features, it needs Windows 10, older versions of Windows won't work. If these requirements aren't met, Netflix will simply play your content in Full HD. No soup for you.

AMD's Internal ZEN SR7, SR5, SR3 Priced Above A12-9800

AMD's first desktop processors based on the "ZEN" micro-architecture will be priced above the fastest socket AM4 part currently in production, the A12-9800 APU. While AMD hasn't started selling the A-series socket AM4 APUs in the retail channel, the top-end A12-9800, which is faster than the A10-7870K from its previous-generation, is expected to be priced at least the same ($160) or higher. This would mean that even the cheapest ZEN part, under the ZEN SR3 series, likely quad-core; could be priced above $160.

Two key slides from a presentation AMD intended for Chinese distribution channels, was leaked to the web by ChipHell tech forum members, revealing that ZEN parts will be priced in a segment "above" RMB ¥1,500 (USD $218), assuming that that's a price inclusive of all taxes. The company also put out some performance numbers for the A8-9600 "Bristol Ridge" socket AM4 APU, keeping the "Godavari" A8-7650K as baseline, compared to the Intel Core i3-6100 "Skylake" processor. The A8-9600 was shown to be faster in most tests.

AMD's Zen Rumored for January 17th Launch; 8 Cores With 16 Threads for $300

As we inch ever closer to AMD's Zen launch, more and more information seems to be slipping through the cracks. This time, MAXSUN, an AMD China partner (poised to provide customers with AM4 platform motherboards) is the source of the proverbial leak, with information that, if true, is sure to stir the pot of bubbling Zen excitement even more.

According to MAXSUN, Zen's initial release date is pegged for January 17th, which, if true, would probably mean a product announcement around CES 2017 (scheduled from the 5th of January through the 8th) - at the same time as Intel is expected to fully unveil their Kaby Lake parts. The company also reports a second release window at March 2017, which lends further credence to AMD's expected staggered launch of Zen-based processors, first for the High-Performance-Desktop (HEDT) market, and trickling down from there. MAXSUN also confirms the pricing scheme we reported yesterday, with regards to the companies' SR7 processors (the top-of-the-line parts in the Zen line-up, and whose naming scheme I think isn't the final one) - the company states these are expected to be priced at around 1500-2000 Yuan SKU ($250-$300).

AMD ZEN Processors to Supposedly Carry SR3, SR5 and SR7 Branding

Recent reports peg AMD's upcoming line of microprocessors based on Zen micro-architecture as being labelled SR3, SR5 and SR7 for different hardware tiers (with the SR3 being the lowest-performing, and SR7 being, naturally, the highest-performing). A recent post on Chip Hell claims that a leaked slide from an AMD presentation give us these insights, with further information on pricing: it's shown in the roadmap that all Zen SR (Summit Ridge) processors will sell for higher than RMB 1500 ($220).

AMD is expected to offer either four-core or eight-core designs on their lineup (with eventual Simultaneous Multi Threading differentiation, like Intel does between their i5 and i7 lines) still being up in the air. And in what would mark a divergence from their recent movement in the GPU space, where AMD introduced their latest Polaris architecture at the highest-volume market of about $200, AMD's Zen efforts are expected to begin from the top, with the dubbed "SR7" enthusiast-grade products first, and trickling down the market scale eventually.

AMD's Zen Server Platform Naples' Results Appear on SiSoft Sandra Database

If AMD's plans come to fruition, the company's efforts with its Zen micro-architecture will bring it back towards competitiveness with Intel not only on consumer chips, but also on the enterprise segment. While the company's consumer efforts are, by and large, the most visible from a consumer standpoint, with great hopes being pinned on it as a means to inject some much-needed dynamism and innovation in the CPU landscape, the most important vector for AMD arguably stands with the enterprise segment - where margins are usually much greater than in the consumer market.

AMD 8-core ZEN Packs a Whallop with Multithreaded Performance

AMD's upcoming 8-core "ZEN" processors pack serious multithreaded performance muscle. The company's design focus on empowering the cores, and getting rid of the shared-resource approach to multi-core chips; appears to have paid of big dividends in multithreaded performance, as tested on the Blender benchmark. An 8-core "ZEN" engineering sample was found to be belting out performance rivaling 10-core Intel Xeon E5-2600 V2 series chips, indicating that AMD appears to have made huge gains in per-core performance over its previous generation chips.

The Blender benchmark scores of an alleged AMD ZEN "Summit Ridge" engineering sample were posted by Blender benchmark scores aggregator Blenchmark; and unearthed by this redditor. According to these scores, the "ZEN" sample cruches the Blender benchmark render in 69 seconds, the same time it takes for a 10-core Xeon E5-2650 V2 processor. The ZEN chip is also closely trailing Xeon E5-2600 V4 series chips. AMD is expected to launch its first ZEN "Summit Ridge" 8-core processors in early 2017.

Two GIGABYTE Socket AM4 Motherboards Pictured

Ahead of their launch later this year, to cater to the 7th generation AMD A-series "Bristol Ridge" APUs, with support for next-generation "ZEN" processors due in 2017, two GIGABYTE socket AM4 motherboards smiled for the camera. The two appear to be based on either AMD's entry-level A320 or mid-range B350 chipsets. Since the AM4 chips are true-blue SoCs with complete integration of chipsets, including what you'd normally call a southbridge or FCH; the "chipsets" in the AM4 platform are merely chips that add to the PCIe lane budget of the platform, and provide additional SATA and USB connectivity.

The first of the two GIGABYTE AM4 boards is built in the narrow micro-ATX form-factor; featuring a single PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot, two DDR4 DIMM slots, four SATA 6 Gb/s ports, and basic connectivity that includes 6-channel HD audio, one gigabit Ethernet connection, and 4-6 USB 3.0 ports. The second board is better endowed, and is likely a variation of the socket AM4 board that was earlier pictured this September. It features two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 ports (the second one could be electrical x4); and comes with two additional SATA 6 Gb/s and USB 3.0 ports compared to the other board.

AMD's ZEN to Implement Advanced Security Features not found in Intel's solutions

Thanks to AMD's incorporation of an ARM-based "AMD Secure Processor" in their upcoming ZEN micro-architecture, the company is poised to offer something competitor Intel's microprocessors yet don't: memory encryption. This processor, and its underlying technologies, could prove to be a stepping-stone for AMD towards regaining lost server market share. Essentially, because in a market ever more steered by cloud computing considerations, it allows for the client's data to be encrypted at every moment of the work chain. Assuming all works as intended, for the first time not even cloud providers, with either hypervisor-level privileges or even physical access to the servers, will be able to carry out any malicious actions against their clients.

One only has to consider the writing on the wall: Morgan Stanley predicts that by 2018, 30% of Microsoft's revenue will stem from its cloud services; Amazon Web Services (AWS) generated $7.88B in revenue on Q4 2015, up 69% over 2014; and worldwide spending on public cloud services by itself will grow from $70B in 2015 to an estimated $141B in 2019. Cloud computing is here to stay, and with security being as important as it is for some businesses, this is an important area of investment for AMD. This "AMD Secure Processor" will work on essentially two fronts: SME (Secure Memory Encryption) and SEV (Secure Encrypted Virtualization), backed by an hardware-based SHA (Secure Hash Algorithm).

AMD Aggressively Clearing Inventory to Make Room for ZEN

AMD is reportedly "aggressively clearing" its inventories of current-generation processors, such products in the AM3+ and FM2+ packages; to make room for next-generation processors based on the "ZEN" architecture, and new 7th generation A-series "Bristol Ridge" APUs, both of which are built in the new socket AM4 package. You should be able to find AMD FX CPUs at attractive prices, so current 4-core and 6-core users could be lured to upgrade to faster 8-core chips, including those featuring the company's Wraith silent CPU cooler.

Taiwan industry observer DigiTimes reports that AMD will launch its next-generation "ZEN" processors, and motherboards based on the high-end X370 chipset, alongside the 2017 International CES expo, in early January. 2017 promises to be a big year for the company as it's not only attempting to regain competitiveness in the performance desktop CPU space, but also high-end graphics, with its Radeon "VEGA" family.

AMD "ZEN" Mobile Chips En Route Q2-2017 Launch

AMD will follow up its Q1-2017 launch of socket AM4 desktop processors and APUs based on the "ZEN" microarchitecture, with single-chip mobile processors and APUs in the following quarter, according to an Expreview report. These solutions could take advantage of the fact that "ZEN" CPUs and APUs completely integrate platform core-logic (chipsets), even though on the desktop platform, AMD is launching the A320, B350, and X370 chipsets to expand connectivity given out by the SoCs.

With requirements for fewer M.2, SATA, and USB 3.0 ports on mobile platforms such as notebooks, designs that completely do away with the chipset should theoretically be possible, and the company could use this to score design wins. Intel currently offers CPU and PCH on single packages, as multi-chip modules (MCMs).

AMD Readies X370 High-end Chipset for "Summit Ridge" Processors

AMD is readying three motherboard chipsets for its next-generation socket AM4 desktop platform. With its 7th generation A-series "Bristol Ridge" APUs, the company launched the A320 mainstream and B350 premium motherboard chipsets, while keeping a better-endowed high-end chipset under the wraps, which makes its debut with the ZEN "Summit Ridge" processors. It turns out that this chipset is the AMD X370. The X370 chipset will debut with the first ZEN "Summit Ridge" processors along the sidelines of the 2017 International CES, next January.

AMD "Summit Ridge" desktop processors, much like the 7th generation A-series APUs they share the platform with, are SoCs, in that the chips combine the entire platform core-logic along with the CPU and its relevant uncore components. AMD is still giving this platform a sort of chipset, which adds to the number of SATA, USB, and general-purpose PCI-Express connectivity that the processor gives out. The AMD X370 should feature more 10 Gb/s USB 3.1 ports, SATA 6 Gb/s ports, 32 Gb/s M.2 or U.2 ports, and general-purpose PCIe lanes than what the B350 offers. This chipset should drive motherboards that are ready for multi-GPU setups.

SMT and Power Management Behind "Kaby Lake" and "ZEN" Windows 10 Restrictions

Microsoft recently sparked a stir when it was reported that the company will support upcoming CPU architectures by Intel and AMD only on Windows 10, with the keyword being "support" and not "compatibility." This means that Microsoft will offer customer-support and likely serve updates to Intel "Kaby Lake" and AMD "ZEN" machines only running Windows 10 (and its enterprise variant Windows Server 2016, based on the NT 10 kernel), and not older versions of Windows. The processors themselves are compatible with any x86 operating system, Windows or *nix, 32-bit or 64-bit. HotHardware dug out the likely causes of this decision.

Apparently, new power-management and SMT features are behind the decision. With its "Kaby Lake" microarchitecture, Intel is introducing a new power-management feature called Speed Shift Technology. This lets the processor adjust its clock-speed to match processing loads at response time of 15 ms. This likely requires OS-level hooks, so the on-die power-management components can poll for processing loads and accordingly raise or lower clock-speeds 66.66 times each second, at no CPU cost. In its ZEN microarchitecture reveal, AMD too spoke about fine-grained, multi-domain clock-gating (≠ power-gating) on its "ZEN" based processors, such as "Summit Ridge."

AMD Unveils its 7th Generation A-Series Desktop APUs

AMD today unveiled its 7th generation A-series desktop APUs. Unlike its predecessors, the new chips are full-fledged SoCs, built in the new socket AM4 package, on which the company plans to launch its "Zen" processors. The 7th gen A-series APUs are based on the "Bristol Ridge" silicon, and are the first fully-integrated SoCs (systems-on-chip) from the company in the performance-desktop segment, in that the APU completely integrates the functionality of a motherboard chipset, including its FCH or southbridge.

This level of integration includes PCI-Express root-complex, USB 3.0, and storage interfaces such as SATA 6 Gb/s emerging directly from the AM4 socket. Some AM4 motherboards could still include a sort of "chipset," which expands connectivity options, such as USB 3.1 ports, additional SATA ports, and a few more downstream PCI-Express lanes. The amount of downstream connectivity and features decide the grade of the chipset. AMD is initially launching two chipsets, the A320 for the entry-level segment, and the B350 for mainstream desktops. The company plans to launch an even more feature-rich chipset at a later date (probably alongside ZEN "Summit Ridge" CPUs).

AMD "Zen" and Intel "Kaby Lake" will Only Support Windows 10 and *nix

If you're holding out on Windows 7 as your PC gaming platform, you may also want to hold out on your current hardware for a long while. Microsoft is making good on a warning it made earlier this year, that it would not provide support to users of upcoming processors on older Windows operating systems. At their launch, Intel's 7th generation Core "Kaby Lake" processors and AMD "Summit Ridge" and "Bristol Ridge" will receive support from Microsoft only on the Windows 10 operating system. Older Windows versions will not receive drivers from Microsoft that support the new platforms. This is similar to Microsoft cutting off support for Windows XP from Intel's 3rd generation Core "Ivy Bridge" processors.

Without platform support, your Windows installation won't utilize many of the CPU features introduced with "Kaby Lake" and "Zen" and will likely run on a bare-minimum compatibility mode. This effectively cuts off PC enthusiasts from using older Windows versions on new hardware, such as the still-popular Windows 7. Non-Microsoft operating systems such as the latest *nix distributions such as ChromeOS, SteamOS, and OS X are still fully compatible with the upcoming chips.

Vega Not Before 2017: AMD to Investors

In a leaked presentation meant for its investors, AMD states that it expects to launch the "Vega" GPU architecture no sooner than 2017. The company plans to get it out within the first half of 2017. What makes this decision significant is that the company isn't planning on making bigger GPUs on its existing "Polaris" architecture, and its biggest product is the $249 Radeon RX 480. This leaves the company's discrete GPU lineup virtually untended at key price-points above, against NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1070, GTX 1080, and TITAN X Pascal, at least for the next five months.

In the mean time, AMD could launch additional mobile SKUs based on the Polaris 10 and Polaris 11 chips. The reasons behind this slow-crawl could be many - AMD could be turning its chip-design resources to the various semi-custom SoCs it's working on, for Microsoft and Sony, with their next-generation game consoles; AMD Vega development could also be running in-sync with market availability of HBM2 memory. 2017 promises to be a hectic year for AMD, with launch of not just Vega, but also its "ZEN" CPU architecture, the "Summit Ridge" processor, and APUs based on the CPU micro-architecture.

AMD Details ZEN Microarchitecture IPC Gains

AMD Tuesday hosted a ZEN microarchitecture deep-dive presentation in the backdrop of Hot Chips, outlining its road to a massive 40 percent gain in IPC (translated roughly as per-core performance gains), over the current "Excavator" microarchitecture. The company credits the gains to three major changes with ZEN: better core engine, better cache system, and lower power. With ZEN, AMD pulled back from its "Bulldozer" approach to cores, in which two cores share certain number-crunching components to form "modules," and back to a self-sufficient core design.

Beyond cores, the next-level subunit of the ZEN architecture is the CPU-Complex (CCX), in which four cores share an 8 MB L3 cache. This isn't different from current Intel architectures, the cores share nothing beyond L3 cache, making them truly independent. What makes ZEN a better core, besides its independence from other cores, and additional integer pipelines; subtle upscaling in key ancillaries such as micro-Op dispatch, instruction schedulers; retire, load, and store queues; and a larger quad-issue FPU.

AMD ZEN Quad-Core Subunit Named CPU-Complex (CCX)

We've been chasing AMD Zen for a long time now. Our older report from April 2015 uncovered an important detail about component organization on Zen processors - the clumping of four CPU cores into a highly-specialized, possibly indivisible subunit referred to then, as the "Zen Quad-core Unit." Some of the latest presentations about the architecture, following AMD's "performance reveal" event from earlier this month, shed more light on this quad-core unit.

AMD is referring to the Zen quad-core unit as the CPU-Complex (CCX). Each CCX is a combination of four independent CPU cores. Unlike on "Bulldozer," a "Zen" core does not share any of its number-crunching machinery with neighboring cores. Each "Zen" core has a dedicated L2 cache of 512 KB, and four Zen cores share an 8 MB L3 cache. AMD will control core-counts by controlling CCX units. A "Summit Ridge" socket AM4 processor features two CCX units (making up eight cores in all), sharing a dual-channel DDR4 memory controller, and the platform core-logic (chipset), complete with an integrated PCI-Express root complex. Socket AM4 APUs will feature one CCX unit, and an integrated GPU in place of the second CCX. With this, AMD is able to bring the two diverse desktop platforms under one socket.

AMD Demos Breakthrough Performance of the ZEN CPU Core

At an event last night in San Francisco, AMD provided additional architectural details and a first look at the performance of its next-generation, high-performance "Zen" processor core. AMD demonstrated the "Zen" core achieving a 40% generational improvement in instructions per clock, delivering a landmark increase in processor performance.

During the event, AMD demonstrated an 8-core, 16-thread "Summit Ridge" desktop processor (featuring AMD's "Zen" core) outperforming a similarly configured 8-core, 16-thread Intel "Broadwell-E" processor when running the multi-threaded Blender rendering software with both CPUs set to the same clock speed. AMD also conducted the first public demonstration of its upcoming 32-core, 64-thread "Zen"-based server processor, codenamed "Naples," in a dual processor server running the Windows Server operating system.

AMD "Summit Ridge" ZEN CPU at 2.80 GHz Beats 3.40 GHz Core i5-4670K

According to performance numbers of an AMD "Summit Ridge" ZEN CPU engineering-sample put out by WCCFTech, AMD's claims of IPC gains are gaining credibility, and showing signs of the gaming PC processor market warming up again. An engineering sample featuring 8 cores and 16 threads (via SMT), beat Intel's Core i5-4670K processor. This sample featured clock speeds of 2.80 GHz, with 3.20 GHz boost.

The "Summit Ridge" sample provided 10 percent higher frame-rates than a Core i5-4670K, in the "Ashes of the Singularity" 1080p benchmark. The chip is still convincingly beaten by 12 percent, by a Core i7-4790 (non-K), running at 3.60 GHz, with 4.00 GHz boost. This shows that AMD could leverage the new 14 nm FinFET process to crank up clock-speeds, and produce SKUs competitive with current Intel "Skylake-D" Core i5 and Core i7 processors.

Microsoft XBOX Scorpio SoC Powered by "Polaris" and "Zen"

It looks like Microsoft will overpower Sony in the next round of the console wars, with a more powerful SoC on paper. The new XBOX "Scorpio" 4K Ultra HD game console will feature a custom-design SoC by AMD, which will combine not just a GPU based on the "Polaris" architecture, but also a CPU based on the "Zen" microarchitecture. This is significant because it sees a departure from using 8 smaller "Jaguar" CPU cores, and upshifts to stronger "Zen" ones. The chip could be built on the 14 nm process.

The SoC powering the XBOX Scorpio could feature a CPU component with eight "Zen" CPU cores, with SMT enabling 16 logical CPUs, and a "Polaris" GPU with 6 TFLOP/s of compute power. The combined compute power is expected to be close to 10 TFLOP/s. The Radeon RX 480, for instance features 5.84 TFLOP/s of power at its given clock speed. The CPU and GPU will likely share a common memory interface, belting out a memory bandwidth of 320 GB/s. The silicon muscle of this console should power 4K Ultra HD, 1080p @ 60 Hz HDR, and "good VR" solutions such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Games for the console could leverage DirectX 12.

AMD "Summit Ridge" Silicon Reserved for 8-core CPUs Initially

Sources tell Bits'n'Chips that AMD could use a common 8-core CPU die based on its upcoming "Zen" architecture over multiple CPU SKUs, at least initially. AMD will have two distinct kinds of processors, those with integrated graphics (APUs) based on the "Bristol Ridge" silicon, and those without integrated graphics (CPUs), based on the "Summit Ridge" silicon. Since products based on both the dies will use a common socket on the desktop (socket AM4), consumers looking for 2-4 CPU cores will be presented with APU options, while those looking for more powerful CPU solutions will be made to choose 8-core CPUs based on the "Summit Ridge" silicon.
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