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AMD's Robert Hallock Dispels Zen 4 PCIe Gen4 Rumors, Talks Future of 'Zen Philosophy'

Ryzen 5000 (Cezanne) Processor
(Image credit: AMD)

In a new YouTube video looking back over five years of its Zen architecture, company representatives also discussed future products, including the next-gen (AM5) platform and 3D-VCache CPUs, both scheduled to land next year, when they'll fight for spots on our best gaming CPU list.

The video, featuring AMD's Chief Marketing Officer, John Taylor, and Director of Technical Marketing, Robert Hallock, also delved into how AMD's original "Zen philosophy" will continue to drive the company's innovation and help it remain competitive against Intel's imminent Alder Lake platform and beyond.

Hallock described AMD's strategy as four main pillars that it needs to get right to be successful: Core Architecture, Process Technology (like TSMC's 7nm), CPU frequency, and platform (AM4, AM5).

To maintain future competitiveness, the duo said AMD will not be chasing the mixed core strategy that Intel is now focusing on, which Hallock described as possibly "harder to address in software." Rather, AMD will go back to its roots and build CPUs around the same Zen philosophy that got it to this point.

Hallock is confident AMD can build smaller cores, combined with excellent packaging and good firmware, that will be significantly faster and especially more power-efficient, than what current Ryzen CPUs deliver.

Future AMD Products

Hallock also confirmed that the long-lived AM4 socket is nearing the end of its life. In 2022, AMD will be replacing AM4 with a "new platform" (AM5 wasn't directly named), which will be incorporating DDR5 support and cooler compatibility with existing AM4 devices. The first Ryzen architecture to support AM5 will be Zen 4, which should arrive next year.

Hallock also confirmed that the next platform will support PCIe Gen 5.0, though of course stating the platform will support the technology doesn't necessarily mean all CPUs on that platform will feature that faster next-gen pipeline. Note that the company's current-gen GPU-equipped APUs (like the Ryzen 5 5600G) top out at PCIe 3.0, despite the Zen 3 architecture it's based on being fully capable of 4.0 bandwidth. 

There was also an update on 3D V-Cache technology, with Hallock confirming that Ryzen CPUs incorporating V-Cache will be coming out early next year--before Zen 4. 3D V-Cache is a new technology AMD announced several months back that will give Ryzen up to a 15% performance improvement in gaming workloads.

3D V-Cache's incredible performance enhancements result from tripling the amount of L3 cache a Ryzen CPU has access to. For a top-tier Ryzen 9 5950X, that equates to 192MB of L3 cache. This is done by 3D stacking multiple layers of L3 cache on top of each other and connecting the layers to the CPU with a high-quality interconnect. The plumbing for 3D V-Cache is already done on current Zen 3 chips. All AMD has to do is install the extra L3 cache layers when ready and that's it. For much more on AMD's 3D packaging and V-Cache, check out our explainer from Hot Chips back in August.

We don't have an official name for the initial V-Cache lineup just yet, but the CPUs will effectively be a Zen 3 refresh, with significantly more L3 cache than current Ryzen 5000 processors, and reside on the AM4 socket. This will be the last CPU lineup to run on AM4 before AM5 (or whatever it officially gets labeled) replaces it with Zen 4 later in 2022.

  • VforV
    Zen 3D, not even a paper launch in December... tsk tsk tsk.

    AMD is getting "softer"... you can't do that vs intel...
    Reply
  • ottonis
    With the overwhelming success of big.Little architectures such as in the current crop of Snapdragon SoCs or M1 Apple silicon and some intriguing leaked AL benchmarks, I wonder whether AMD's approach of uniform small(er) efficient faster cores is outsmarting the competition or if they are just lagging behind w/r to microarchitecture and trying to sell it as the next best thing since sliced bread ("it's not a bug, it's a feature").
    I really hope that AMD have some very smart and effective advancements up their sleeves for their upcoming Zen4 beside the stacked L3 cash.

    What they really need to do is to integrate some simple hardwired ASICS into their APUs that would serve as ultra low energy pipelines for image signal processing / video/audio/HDR/ encoding/decoding tasks.
    This will make all the content creators very happy.
    Reply
  • Makaveli
    VforV said:
    Zen 3D, not even a paper launch in December... tsk tsk tsk.

    AMD is getting "softer"... you can't do that vs intel...

    lol the same intel that sat on skylake for 6+ years AMD will be fine.
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    ottonis said:
    What they really need to do is to integrate some simple hardwired ASICS into their APUs that would serve as ultra low energy pipelines for image signal processing / video/audio/HDR/ encoding/decoding tasks.
    This will make all the content creators very happy.
    You're in luck, AMD has had dedicate hardware codecs in place for years (as do Intel and Nvidia GPUs).

    At one point they also had a DSP for audio processing (TrueAudio), not sure if that's still a thing though.
    Reply
  • ottonis
    TJ Hooker said:
    You're in luck, AMD has had dedicate hardware codecs in place for years (as do Intel and Nvidia GPUs).

    At one point they also had a DSP for audio processing (TrueAudio), not sure if that's still a thing though.

    I know. However, AMD's video encoding hardware (VCE/VCN) is not exactly regarded as the best on the market. Video encoding quality seems to lag behind nVidia NVENC in most use cases. And this was tested with full-sized Radeon cards, not APUs.
    Apple's M1 systems have become the new darling of low budget YouTube productions because they allow for seamless and fluid playback of multiple 4k streams within NLEs such as PP or Resolve (or even better: FCP).

    That's what I would love to see from future AMD's APUs: optimized and highly efficient, smooth operation of video editing software.
    Reply
  • elementalRealms
    ottonis said:
    With the overwhelming success of big.Little architectures such as in the current crop of Snapdragon SoCs or M1 Apple silicon and some intriguing leaked AL benchmarks, I wonder whether AMD's approach of uniform small(er) efficient faster cores is outsmarting the competition or if they are just lagging behind w/r to microarchitecture and trying to sell it as the next best thing since sliced bread ("it's not a bug, it's a feature").
    I really hope that AMD have some very smart and effective advancements up their sleeves for their upcoming Zen4 beside the stacked L3 cash.

    What they really need to do is to integrate some simple hardwired ASICS into their APUs that would serve as ultra low energy pipelines for image signal processing / video/audio/HDR/ encoding/decoding tasks.
    This will make all the content creators very happy.

    I dont see overwhelming success for big little outside the mobile PC industry. Actually on desktops it is a waste of silicon.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    3D V-Cache is a new technology AMD announced several months back that will give Ryzen up to a 15% performance improvement in gaming workloads.

    With an asterisk the size of a small island nation no doubt. Also with that much L3 cache there's going to be a very tidy price premium attached for what is likely going to be a very situational based performance gain.

    I want a price war again so we can win instead of AMD and Intel's bank accounts.
    Reply
  • ottonis
    elementalRealms said:
    I dont see overwhelming success for big little outside the mobile PC industry. Actually on desktops it is a waste of silicon.

    True, but isn't the world moving towards mobile?
    The most recent numbers show a 54%, market share for mobile computers vs 43% for Desktop computers (see https://gs.statcounter.com/platform-market-share/desktop-mobile-tablet).

    Many people do audio and video editing on their laptops. That was unheard of 10-15 years ago.
    Of course, VFX artists and professionals will still prefer a full blown workstation, but more and more work is being done on notebooks nowadays.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    elementalRealms said:
    I dont see overwhelming success for big little outside the mobile PC industry. Actually on desktops it is a waste of silicon.
    Disagree. The overwhelming percentage of mainstream software is not highly threaded and that isn't going to change any time soon. Big little allows a higher percentage of CPU die space to be utilized more of the time thus making it a more performance optimized design for mainstream desktop use. On the flip side big little can be a power optimized design for mobile markets by disabling the big cores when not needed or to extend battery life. One design that can be optimized either way.
    Reply
  • JWNoctis
    spongiemaster said:
    Disagree. The overwhelming percentage of mainstream software is not highly threaded and that isn't going to change any time soon. Big little allows a higher percentage of CPU die space to be utilized more of the time thus making it a more performance optimized design for mainstream desktop use. On the flip side big little can be a power optimized design for mobile markets by disabling the big cores when not needed or to extend battery life. One design that can be optimized either way.
    They might be hedging on their newer architecture staying as comparatively efficient as they currently are. Why do 8C+8c when you could make 12C just as efficient and have better performance? For mobile processors, Alder Lake would need to have an almost 20% improvement in power efficiency over Tiger Lake which is on the same node, just to match the efficiency of current Zen 3 processors on the market, in my experience with the latter two.
    Reply