Skip to main content

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+.

Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

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

  • Robert Cook
    Well they said what was needed, now lets hope they deliver.
    Reply
  • ravewulf
    "new AF4 desktop platform"

    AF4 or AM4?
    Reply
  • SpAwNtoHell
    To be or not to be, this is the question.... We really need something to push the level for cpu... Only let's hope it delivers as ceo maths and statements are barely holding when the actual thing comes out.
    Reply
  • PaulAlcorn
    "new AF4 desktop platform"

    AF4 or AM4?

    Thank you for catching the typo, the article is corrected to "AM4".
    Reply
  • memadmax
    uggg.
    Intel been using FinFET like tech for four years now!
    Reply
  • iam2thecrowe
    Hmm, 40% improvement in ICP..... that could mean a lot, is that per "module"? Have they ramped up clock-speed to ridiculous levels again to compete? Is that integer performance or FP? Is it the fact that they have increased to 8c/16 threads? Most mainstream apps have no hope of using these 16 threads as we know. Can't wait for some real world benchmarks. I will pray that this works out, we need some competition.
    Reply
  • Achaios
    We have been hearing about ZEN for the past 4 years or so, and still there is no ZEN in the market.

    After all these years, ZEN is still a concept. I wonder how many more years it's going to take before we see ZEN in the market, IF we EVER see it in the market.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    18051081 said:
    Hmm, 40% improvement in ICP..... that could mean a lot, is that per "module"? Have they ramped up clock-speed to ridiculous levels again to compete?
    Zen does not use 'modules', it uses simultaneous multi-threading like Intel does with HT. IPC is "instructions per clock" which can only be increased by architectural changes - if you increase throughput by 20% by increasing clocks by 20%, the IPC improvement will be 0% or worse: if you increase clocks, there will usually be more pipeline stalls and the IPC will get somewhat worse.
    Reply
  • silverblue
    IPC can also mean "instructions per core", at which point clock speeds do make a difference. For example, the refreshed Excavator present in Bristol Ridge is about 10% faster than that within Carrizo, but it is also clocked about 10% faster, meaning instructions per core has gone up whereas instructions per clock likely remains about the same.

    I love how people complain about Zen being years late when we first heard about Zen just over a year back.
    Reply
  • JeanLuc
    Hmm, 40% improvement in ICP..... that could mean a lot, is that per "module"? Have they ramped up clock-speed to ridiculous levels again to compete? Is that integer performance or FP? Is it the fact that they have increased to 8c/16 threads? Most mainstream apps have no hope of using these 16 threads as we know. Can't wait for some real world benchmarks. I will pray that this works out, we need some competition.

    It's 40% clock for clock and that's 40% over AMD's new Excavator microarchitecture. If you compare it against something like Bulldozer or Piledriver CPU's (such as the FX 8350) Zen will be about 55 to 60% faster. If you look at some CPU graphs clock for clock Zen in theory will be on parity with Intel's Skylake and hopefully at a cheaper price.
    Reply