ExecutableFix (opens in new tab), a reputable hardware leaker, has brought us another piece of information on AMD's next-generation Zen 4 mainstream processors. Apparently, Ryzen 6000 (reportedly codenamed Raphael) will potentially top out at 16 cores.
There's a lot to be excited about with AMD's Zen 4 microarchitecture. For starters, the chips are rumored to come with TSMC's leading-edge 5nm process node. Previously, there were strong rumors that AMD could add a third chiplet to Ryzen 6000 to bump the core count up to 24, but ExecutableFix has dispelled that rumor. However, it was probably wishful thinking from the start since AMD already offers more cores than Intel on a mainstream processor. Furthermore, it wouldn't make sense for AMD to continue adding more cores since it would only threaten the chipmaker's Ryzen Threadripper HEDT lineup.
Barring any surprises, the Ryzen 9 6950X will likely be the flagship chip for the Ryzen 6000 series. Logically, the 16-core part will replace the existing Ryzen 9 5950X. Although we might not see more cores, Zen 4 will allegedly offer us other advances in exchange, such as DDR5 support and four additional PCIe 4.0 lanes for more connectivity. In terms of TDP (thermal design power), Zen 4 isn't expected to be a lot more power-demanding than Zen 3. While the latter maxed out at 105W, Zen 4 could feature a maximum TDP of 120W, although there have been murmurs of a special edition 170W SKU.
AMD has retained the AM4 socket for a while now, so the chipmaker will, in all probability, transition to the AM5 socket going forward. ExecutableFix has already provided us a mockup of how Zen 4 could look. Besides the stylish IHS (integrated heat spreader), the processor reportedly will no longer have any pins since the AM5 socket is rumored to sport a Land Grid Array (LGA) design, similar to what Intel has done since LGA775. However, the new layout doesn't look awfully different, so there's a chance that existing AM4 cooling solutions can work on AM5 with a converter kit.
AMD is in no hurry to get Zen 4 out. The company's Ryzen 5000 (codename Vermeer) chips, which are based on Zen 3 cores, are among the best CPUs on the market right now. Furthermore, the chipmaker recently revealed a new Zen 3 Ryzen processor with 3D V-Cache that can deliver up to 192MB of L3 cache per chip. As a result, AMD has enough assets to hold Intel off until Zen 4, which may not debut until the fourth quarter of 2022.