ALL ABOUT AMD ZEN CPU

PC Advisor - - CONTENTS -

1 It’s all new. Zen is a to­tally new ‘clean­sheet’ chip de­sign and ap­pears to be 40 per­cent faster than AMD’s pre­vi­ous CPUs. It has in­di­vid­ual cores with SMT (si­mul­ta­ne­ous mul­ti­thread­ing), in­stead of the shared cores with clus­tered mul­ti­thread­ing of to­day’s AMD CPUs.

2 It’s not a CPU. Tech­ni­cally, Sum­mit Ridge isn’t a CPU, but an SoC (sys­tem on-chip), which means no chipset is needed for most of the func­tion­al­ity. On at least one Sum­mit Ridge demo board, we spied a chip that ap­peared to han­dle the SATA and SATA Ex­press ports. But these are en­gi­neer­ing boards, so who knows.

3 It’s an octo-core. The con­sumer chip, co­de­named Sum­mit Ridge, will fea­ture eight cores with si­mul­ta­ne­ous mul­ti­thread­ing (sim­i­lar to In­tel’s Hyper-Thread­ing), for a to­tal of 16 threads.

4 Pre­pare to buy a new mother­board. Sum­mit Ridge will re­quire a new AM4-based mother­board, but don’t whine – you also get DDR4, na­tive USB 3.1 10Gb/s, SATA Ex­press, PCIe 3.0 and NVMe sup­port. That same AM4 board will work with APU ver­sions of the chip, too.

5 Your old cooler may work. It looks like it’ll work with your ex­ist­ing AMD cool­ing, as we spot­ted one Zen sys­tem run­ning the slick new Wraith cooler.

6 It’s got FinFet. It’s built on a 14nm process with FinFet tech­nol­ogy by AMD spin-off Global Foundries. FinFets are sim­i­lar to what In­tel calls tri-gate or 3D tran­sis­tors.

7 It isn’t just claims. In a demo we wit­nessed, a Sum­mit Ridge ap­peared to

be ev­ery bit as fast as In­tel’s new Broad­well-E CPUs. So haters, ease on down the road.

8 There’s a 32-core ver­sion called Naples. AMD sur­prised the crowd with the 32core Naples chip aimed at servers. With SMT sup­port in a dual-pro­ces­sor mother­board, that means 128 threads of com­put­ing.

9 No one knows how much Zen will cost. AMD won’t dis­close pric­ing or a pric­ing strat­egy but the in­tro­duc­tion of Sum­mit Ridge will prob­a­bly start a price war like we haven’t seen the likes of in years. So yes, if you lifted your eye­brows at the Broad­well-E, just wait.

10 You’ll have to wait un­til 2017 to build one. You won’t be able to snag one any time soon. The chip may make a lim­ited ap­pear­ance in 2016, but only in pre­built sys­tems. AMD says Sum­mit Ridge will ship in vol­ume early next year. Naples isn’t ex­pected un­til the sec­ond quar­ter of next year.

AMD’s Zen CPUs are near­ing the fin­ish line. Gor­don Mah Ung re­veals ev­ery­thing you need to know

AMD’s new Naples SoC can sup­port 2P server de­signs with up to 128 threads of com­put­ing power

AMD’s Wraith cooler and what looks like a setup for dual-chan­nel DDR4 RAM

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