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Next-gen AMD platform: processor-direct NVMe storage, USB 3.1, Promontory PCH

Next year Advanced Micro Devices plans to introduce not only all-new accelerated processing units and central processing units, but also fresh platforms for client PCs. While AMD will do a lot to unify its next-gen platforms, there will still be major differences between systems powered by different microprocessors.

AMD’s client platforms next year will rely on code-named “Promontory” core-logic that will support various APUs and CPUs from the company, including code-named “Summit Ridge”, “Bristol Ridge” based on “Zen” micro-architecture and other. All next-gen desktop microprocessors from AMD will use unified AM4 packaging and will be compatible with a variety of appropriate mainboards, which will make it easy for system makers to design PCs powered by AMD’s APUs or CPUs.

AMD “Promontory” chipset will be rather feature-rich: it will connect to processors using PCI Express 3.0 x4 bus (up to 4GB/s of bandwidth) and will support USB 3.1, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports; one PCI Express 2.0 general-purpose port for various controllers; Serial ATA-6Gb/s and SATA Express port(s). Since “Promontory” platform controller hub (PCH) will rely on a single 4GB/s interconnection to microprocessor, do not expect it to enable a lot of 10Gb/s USB 3.1 ports along with numerous fast SATA Express ports.


In fact, the crucial input/output interfaces of AMD’s next-gen client PC platforms will be integrated into APUs and CPUs themselves, according to a block diagram published by BenchLife web-site. AMD’s future microprocessors will built-in processor-direct storage controller: next-gen AMD FX “Summit Ridge” will feature a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe port or one PCIe 3.0 x2 along with two Serial ATA 3.0 ports, whereas less advanced “Bristol Ridge” and other chips will support PCIe 3.0 x2 NVMe and two Serial ATA 3.0 ports (or one SATA Express). The upcoming processors will also incorporate four USB 3.0/2.0 ports as well as audio, SPI and LPC interfaces.

What is a bit alarming is that the next-generation AMD FX processors based on “Zen” micro-architecture code-named “Summit Ridge” will support only 16 built-in PCI Express 3.0 lanes for graphics cards, which means that it is not exactly designed for multi-GPU systems with more than two graphics cards.

AMD did not comment on the news-story.

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KitGuru Says: AMD’s next-gen client PC platform for high-performance APUs and CPUs looks pretty competitive by today’s standards. Unfortunately, the “Summit Ridge” + “Promontory” platform does not support a lot of PCI Express 3.0 lanes, which are needed to build multi-GPU systems with multiple SATA Express (PCIe 3.0 x4) SSDs, like the Intel Z170 does, but it fully supports USB 3.1 and ensures maximum performance for NVMe SSDs thanks to processor-direct storage.

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