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AMD: Zen is 40% faster than current x86 cores, Zen+ is incoming

Advanced Micro Devices on Wednesday confirmed that its next-generation high-performance x86 micro-architecture code-named “Zen” will power its leading-edge microprocessors in 2016. The company also revealed that its developers are already working on “Zen+” micro-architecture for its future processors.

Mark Papermaster, chief technology officer of AMD, said that “Zen” x86 processor cores offer 40 per cent higher instructions per clock performance compared to “Excavator” x86 cores. Essentially, this means that AMD’s next-gen central processing units will be 40 per cent faster compared to existing CPUs at the same clock-rate. According to AMD, the follow-up for “Zen”, currently known as “Zen+” will offer even higher IPC throughput, which means major micro-architectural enhancements.


“Excavator” is the pinnacle of “Bulldozer” micro-architecture, which was unveiled in 2011 and which has not managed to offer truly competitive performance compared to offerings from AMD’s arch-rival Intel Corp., partly because of its clustered multi-threading architecture that required sharing of floating point units by dual-core CPU modules.

By contrast, “Zen” micro-architecture will permit AMD to build microprocessors with powerful individual cores that support simultaneous multi-threading technology (SMT). SMT lets multiple independent threads to be executed by available resources of one modern CPU core, thus maximizing peak performance.


The new “Zen” cores will also feature completely redesigned high-bandwidth low-latency inclusive cache sub-system, which should tangibly boost single-thread performance of microprocessors.

40 per cent IPC improvement compared to “Excavator” does not automatically mean that AMD’s future chips will be 40 per cent faster than existing AMD FX microprocessors or AMD A10 accelerated processing units. Since the new chips may run at higher clock-rates, it is possible that they will be considerably faster than AMD’s contemporary CPUs and APUs. Alternatively, if the clock-rates are not high, the new products will show moderate performance improvements compared to today’s offerings.


As expected, microprocessors powered by “Zen” micro-architecture – which are allegedly code-named “Summit Ridge”, “Bristol Ridge” and “Basilisk” – will be made using 14nm FinFET (14LPP, 14nm low-power plus) process technology at GlobalFoundries.

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KitGuru Says: 40 per cent IPC performance improvement from generation to generation is absolutely impressive, assuming that this is an average performance improvement. However, it remains to be seen how well will AMD’s future designs perform. In theory, fine designs maximize micro-architectural advantages and we may see FX CPUs from AMD that will compete against Intel’s high-end Core i7 processors in 2016.

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