We have to wait another year for Zen 2, though

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AMD’S RYZEN gave the pro­ces­sor mar­ket a jolt, it gave In­tel some­thing to think about, and ac­cel­er­ated roadmaps ev­ery­where. And it has no plans to ease off just yet. This April, we should see the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion Ryzen, the 2000-se­ries or Zen+, co­de­named Pin­na­cle Ridge. The die shrink from a 14nm process to a 12nm node gen­er­ally means faster clock speeds, and ru­mor has it we can ex­pect around 200MHz across the board. AMD also reck­ons on a 10 per­cent per­for­mance bump from the shrink alone.

In­ter­nal changes in­clude Pre­ci­sion Boost 2 and Ex­tended Frequency Range. The head­line is that boost will now kick in on all cores. Pre­vi­ously, if a game hit mul­ti­ple cores, how­ever lightly, it jinxed the boost. This stops that. The new chips will use the same AM4 socket, but we will also get a new X470 chipset bet­ter op­ti­mized for them. A BIOS update will be re­quired for the older 300-se­ries boards. Later in the year, we will also see Zen+ ver­sions of Thread­rip­per and Ryzen Pro, as well as more desk­top APUs. On the graph­ics front, AMD plans to use its first 7nm Radeon Vega GPU specif­i­cally for ma­chine learn­ing and AI, an assault on Nvidia’s lead. This will, as the in­dus­try puts it, “sam­ple” later in the year.

Closer scru­tiny of the roadmap shows that all this ac­tiv­ity is fill­ing in gaps in the lineup, and keep­ing ex­ist­ing de­signs com­pet­i­tive. The big change will come next year, when the Zen core moves to its sec­ond it­er­a­tion. Ac­cord­ing to AMD, the Zen 2 de­sign is com­plete. It will use Glob­alFoundries’ 7nm process, and build on the core of Zen, us­ing ideas and fea­tures that were dropped from the orig­i­nal de­sign due to time and bud­get re­straints. Drop­ping to a die 58 per­cent the size will bring healthy re­wards, too. AMD shows ev­ery in­ten­tion of be­ing fiercely com­pet­i­tive, which is good for all.

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