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AMD's Next Gen Products Taped Out, Possibly Delayed

At AMD’s Technology Investors Conference, Devinder Kumar, AMD’s Chief Financial Officer discussed the upcoming AMD products, which are now being taped out.

The Move To FinFET

According to Kumar, in the last few months, AMD has been taping out products on a FinFET fab. AMD expects to have volume production of these new chips in 2016. Kumar did not specify exactly what size the transistors would be in these products, but he said AMD will skip past 20 nm transistors completely. Because AMD currently uses GlobalFoundries for all CPU production and pays TSMC to produce its GPU cores, it is likely that these new products will use either TSMC’s 16 nm FinFET or GlobalFoundries 14 nm FinFET fabs.

“We haven’t given the specifics, but you know they taped out in the last few months, and typically what happens on the product, depending on when you tape it out, it can be 12 to 14 months from the time you tape out the products to when you start shipping the products, but we haven’t been specific about, you know, exact timeframe,” said Kumar.

Kumar did not specify if the products being taped out were CPUs or GPUs, both of which are expected to arrive in 2016 and use FinFET transistor technology. It is possible that Kumar was talking about the Arctic Islands GPUs instead, or AMD could be currently taping out and testing both products.

Zen Processors

Although the move to 16/14 nm FinFET transistor technology is a promising sign for AMD’s upcoming Zen processors, it appears that these CPUs will come later than expected. AMD’s last major update to its desktop CPU offerings came in January 2014, when the Kaveri architecture was released, and the enthusiast desktop FX series has not seen an update since October 2012.

At launch, these processors were already facing an uphill battle, as Intel’s competing products were both faster and more energy efficient, and this performance gap has only increased over time with new product releases. As such, many users hoping to see AMD become more competitive expected to see products based on the Zen architecture in Q1 2015.

Arctic Islands

Similarly, AMD’s GPUs have faced tough competition in recent years from Nvidia’s Maxwell GPUs. AMD has managed to consistently release increasingly faster GPUs based on its GCN architecture by cramming more shaders into new graphics cards and introducing HBM, but Nvidia’s GTX 980 Ti still holds its position as the fastest graphics card on the market, and with significantly lower power consumption. Although the move to FinFET transistors only may not be enough to take the performance crown from Nvidia, the reduced power consumption paired with the new Arctic Islands architecture might be able to.

How Long Will We Wait?

However, if Kumar’s aforementioned 12-14 month timeline holds true, this puts the release of both AMD’s Zen CPUs and the Arctic Islands GPUs back to the second half of 2016 at earliest, and they may arrive as late as Q1 2017.

Update, 12/14/15, 9:00am PT: Corrected AMD's next gen architecture codename.

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Michael Justin Allen Sexton (or MJ) is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware. As a tech enthusiast, MJ enjoys studying and writing about all areas of tech, but specializes in the study of chipsets and microprocessors. In his personal life, MJ spends most of his time gaming, practicing martial arts, studying history, and tinkering with electronics.

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  • ScrewySqrl
    Well, at that rate, AMD might just be nearing bankruptcy before they come out
    Reply
  • clonazepam
    Interesting. I read an article that said Nvidia's Pascal architecture would be launching in 2016 at 16nm, with hbm 2.0.

    I'm guessing AMD's at 16nm on the GPUs. Yes quick edit cuz yeah. ;)
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    17125324 said:
    Interesting. I read an article that said Nvidia's Pascal architecture would be launching in 2016 at 16nm, with hbm 2.0.

    If AMD wants to use the Pascal name, I don't think they'll beat Nvidia to it. ;)

    They might call it Greenland or something, hoping it'll bring in the green.

    Arctic Islands is AMDs next GPU uArch.

    A delay is not ideal for AMD but I think they will survive until the launch of Zen at least. If Zen is not up to snuff then they will be in hot water. Three major uArchs in a row failing would not bode well for any company.
    Reply
  • cptnjarhead
    Waiting is easy, significant number of DX12 games are still far off and 1080p is still the standard.. so i will keep my 7950/1100T x6 BLK setup for a while longer.
    Reply
  • clonazepam
    17125343 said:
    17125324 said:
    Interesting. I read an article that said Nvidia's Pascal architecture would be launching in 2016 at 16nm, with hbm 2.0.

    If AMD wants to use the Pascal name, I don't think they'll beat Nvidia to it. ;)

    They might call it Greenland or something, hoping it'll bring in the green.

    Arctic Islands is AMDs next GPU uArch.

    A delay is not ideal for AMD but I think they will survive until the launch of Zen at least. If Zen is not up to snuff then they will be in hot water. Three major uArchs in a row failing would not bode well for any company.

    I'm saddened neither camp has a new Arch out before the big boys in VR drop their products. That showdown will be very interesting to me.
    Reply
  • clonazepam
    17125355 said:
    Waiting is easy, significant number of DX12 games are still far off and 1080p is still the standard.. so i will keep my 7950/1100T x6 BLK setup for a while longer.

    I want that Zen to rock my socks. I have a system with the 1st gen APU in it, and its showing its age.
    Reply
  • captaincharisma
    AMD's new products delayed. already retired
    Reply
  • TechyInAZ
    Wow, there is a chance that Zen won't come out until 2017? AMD fanboys are gona be disappointing for a while.

    I'm glad though that their skipping 20nm and going strait to 14nm, at least power savings will hopefully be almost as good as Intel skylake.
    Reply
  • CRITICALThinker
    Can I make a point out to the author of this article. It seems as if the material states that AMD's next GPU arch is named Pascal, which would be incorrect. Otherwise it is quite an informative article, but something like arch codenames should be correct especially after they have been known about for so long.
    Reply
  • Larry Litmanen
    Is PC market really that weak that no one wants to step up and buy out AMD.

    I feel like at some point PCs will start using the same chips that are used in mobile devices.
    Reply