TSMC 7nm Process
AMD tapped TSMC's 7nm process for the Ryzen 3000 series processors. AMD's first-gen Ryzen processors debuted on GlobalFoundries' 14nm GPP node, but the 2000-series CPUs moved to GloFo's 12nm LP process technology. The ported-over design helped boost transistor performance, but did not affect die area or transistor density. As a result, Pinnacle Ridge's ~4.8 billion transistors and 213mm2 area remained the same as first-gen Ryzen.
In contrast, TSMC's 7nm process represents a true shrink that provides twice the transistor density. AMD says the process allowed it to shrink the CCX by 29% relative to the 12nm process, which helped pave the way for Zen 2's enhancements, like the doubled L3 cache capacity and the ability to double core counts within the same package dimensions. It's also important to note that the company also removed I/O and memory controllers from the compute chiplet this time around, resulting in even smaller packages.
AMD also claims the process affords up to 350 more MHz of core frequency at the same voltage as the 12nm LP process. The new process also delivers on the energy efficiency front with up to 75% higher performance-per-watt compared to the 12nm LP process. AMD also says the 7nm node produces up to 58% higher performance-per-watt than Intel's aging, but highly refined, 14nm++ process, but be aware that the Ryzen 3000 chips still have a 12nm I/O die that contributes to the chip's overall power consumption.
AMD says that the 15% increase in IPC throughput from the Zen 2 microarchitecture serves up 60% of the performance improvements seen in the Ryzen 3000 series chips, with the remaining 40% coming from the 7nm process and frequency improvements.
Zen 2 Microarchitecture
Zen's modular and scalable design provides AMD with plenty of advantages in terms of cost and time to market, and fine-grained tuning to the architecture has yielded phenomenal results.
AMD has improved IPC by roughly 15% (though that can vary by workload), doubled the L3 cache size to keep data as close to the execution units as possible, and doubled floating point performance by expanding floating point bandwidth to 256-bit to improve performance with AVX2 instructions.
Headline improvements include a doubled micro-op (4K) and L3 cache (32MB), which came at the expense of a slightly smaller L1 instruction cache that is now an 8-way associative 32K block as opposed to the 64K block with 4-way associativity on first-gen Ryzen. AMD also beefed up the Translation Lookaside Buffer (TLB) to 2,000 entries.
AMD now has a double-stage branch predictor, with its Perceptron predictor handling the first stage while a new TAGE branch predictor, which features larger lookup tables to improve performance, serves as the second stage. That's paired with larger L1 and L2 branch target predictors (BTBs) that increase throughput by reducing stalls. AMD says the improved branch predictor expends extra energy on the front end, but the 30% lower misprediction rate ultimately saves more energy on the backend. A third address generation unit (AGU) also keeps the hungry execution cores fed with data from main memory.
Enter the X570 Chipset
AMD's Ryzen 3000 series processors have dynamic algorithms that adjust parameters based upon several factors, with power delivery and heat dissipation being the chief variables that can unlock extra performance. As such, motherboard selection is going to be a big factor in the amount of performance you receive if you choose to use AMD's Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO - next page) and Auto Overclock features. The X570 motherboard ecosystem has proven to be pricey compared to the previous-gen X470 models, but AMD says that the Ryzen 3000 series processors will operate at full performance at stock settings with X470 motherbaords. You just sacrifice access to the PCIe 4.0 interface.
The actual X570 chipset is a 14nm variant of the 12nm I/O die inside the Ryzen 3000-series processors, which is a clever reuse of the technology that ultimately lowers costs. This chipset is also fully produced by AMD, whereas the X470 chipset came from ASMedia, which says it will continue to produce some chipsets for Ryzen 3000 series processors. AMD uses the smaller 12nm process for the processor's in-package I/O die to leverage the increased frequency potential for the memory controllers. That improves memory data transfer rates, but AMD uses the more economical 14nm variant, which has its memory controllers disabled, for the chipset die.
Most X570 motherboards come with a fan on the chipset to provide active cooling for the chipset, which now consumes ~11-15W compared to the 6W consumed by the X470 chipset. That's due to the power-hungry nature of the PCIe 4.0 interface when it is under full load. Small fans like these tend to be noisy, but our motherboard team is hard at work on the first wave of X570 motherboard reviews and will provide more perspective.
Ryzen 3000-series chips are compatible with most previous-gen motherboards with the AM4 socket, but some updates are left to vendor discretion. As such, you won't be able to drop a new Third-gen Ryzen chip into all X370 and B350 motherboards, and A320's upgrade path is blocked entirely. Due to the uneven application of BIOS updates across the various vendors, and even among different motherboards in the respective product stacks, you'll have to check the CPU support list for your X370 or B350 motherboard to ensure it supports Third-gen Ryzen.
There are plenty of X470 and B450 motherboards still on the market, but some of the boards that have been in the supply chain for a while will need a BIOS update before you install a Third-gen Ryzen processor. As we've seen in the past, that isn't always possible if you don't already have a Ryzen processor or if the motherboard doesn't have an out-of-band BIOS update feature, like BIOS Flashback. AMD also announced that all motherboards that support Ryzen 3000 processors out of the box will come with a new badge to help simplify things.