AMD CEO Teases Zen Processor Family, Summit Ridge Makes An Appearance

AMD's forthcoming Zen processor is a source of hope for the company, and also a source of many industry rumors. AMD CEO Lisa Su unveiled the processor for the first time during a press briefing at Computex 2016, and shed some light on the details of the forthcoming architecture.

AMD displayed a dynamic rendering of the Zen logo that was created, edited, rendered and played back with the new desktop Zen processor, code-named Summit Ridge, proving that the company has working silicon. Su indicated that the company began development from scratch three years ago with a team of hundreds of engineers. AMD had a successful tapeout of its newest processor earlier this year, and has been actively optimizing the working silicon for the past few months. The chip will sample to select customers in the coming weeks, and sampling will expand to the broader ecosystem in Q3 2016.

"We love Summit Ridge, we are in the early stages of bring up, but the product looks really good," stated Su. "Zen is delivering 40 percent more IPC (Instructions Per Cycle) than our previous processor."

Zen is powered by 8 cores with 16 threads and is built on FinFET technology. The processor serves as the cornerstone of the new AM4 desktop platform, which Su cited as AMDs return to the desktop for enthusiast and performance fans. Zen will address the high end, but scale to become the top-to-bottom solution for the company's desktop line-up. 

The Zen architecture is designed to scale across multiple use cases, and after the initial debut in the desktop segment, the company will expand its use to servers, notebooks and embedded segments. AMD is already working with the server version of Zen, and AMD will integrate the cores into its line of APUs after the newly-announced Bristol Ridge generation. AMD claims the core is scalable to address multiple performance and power consumption envelopes, which is critical for penetrating into the low-power embedded space.

Zen could challenge Intel in multiple segments if it proves to be competitive, which will foster increased (and much needed) competition in the CPU space. Intel has a solid roundup of new 10-core Extreme Edition processors, so the 8-core Zen architecture will face stiff competition.

"Zen is alive, Zen is on track, and we are extraordinarily excited about what Zen will bring to the marketplace," Su noted in her closing remarks. Su also indicated that the company will speak more on the new architecture in the coming months, and the industry will certainly be listening. 

Paul Alcorn is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Storage. Follow him onTwitter and Google+.

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Update: June 1 3:30 PM TPE - Corrected AF4 to AM4

Paul Alcorn
Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech

Paul Alcorn is the Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech for Tom's Hardware US. He also writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage, and enterprise hardware.