SECOND GENERATION RYZEN THIS SPRING
We have to wait another year for Zen 2, though
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.