Saturday, February 11
Back in 2011, AMD released Bulldozer, the follow-up to their well-regarded Athlon and Phenom processors which were getting a bit long in the tooth. Bulldozer changed the traditional design AMD had used, of four or six independent cores, two four modules containing two cores each, with some shared resources like caches and schedulers.
- AMD could not hit their frequency targets within their power targets. They've had a 5GHz chip for years, but it's a 220W monster, and they've had low-power chips, but they're slow.
- Although the shared resources made for smaller cores and good multi-threaded throughput, single-threaded performance was significantly behind Intel's chips, and that matters both for common business applications and for gaming.
- AMD's plans were to use future process improvements - 20nm planar and then 14nm FinFET - to increase the number of cores and reduce power consumption. But the 20nm planar process was an industry-wide failure, and AMD's high-end CPUs have been stuck at 32nm for five years. Intel alone escaped this because they spent the extra money to go to FinFET in their 22nm process.
Posted by: Mauser at Sunday, February 12 2017 06:20 AM (5Ktpu)
Also, Intel sell different (and expensive) motherboards for their 8-core CPUs, and change sockets every 2-3 years anyway.
AMD have been much better at this; for 10 years they've supported compatibility between one degree of difference in motherboard and CPU versions. So an AM2+ CPU would work in an older AM2 socket, and an AM3 CPU works in an AM3+ socket. Not true this time - this is a brand new design with about 400 extra pins - but should work whenever AM4+ ships.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sunday, February 12 2017 06:38 AM (PiXy!)
With the lead time on chip design, all these look like they're likely to be is Kaby Lake rev 2, that is, a couple hundred MHz faster (based on the claim of a ~15% improvement, which is roughly comparable to KL's increase over Skylake (entirely due to clock speed increases; at the same speed, SL and KL perform essentially identically.)
AMD must've been working on this for a LONG time, even before they started talking about Zen.
It's almost time for me to upgrade my home desktop. I had been going back and forth between a 5820K and a 7700K (I want the additional cores for things like VMing, but I also want a small case (currently loving the look of the NZXT Manta) but there's only one Mini ITX X99 motherboard, and it seems to be a crapshoot: if it works, it's great, but a LOT of people have serious problems with it) but now I'm going to hold off until sites like AnandTech (I saw you commenting there yesterday, Pixy) and HardOCP get their hands on Ryzens and test them. I am training myself to admit I don't NEED the absolute fastest single-core performance for nearly anything I do.
Posted by: Rick C at Monday, February 13 2017 10:14 AM (ITnFO)
According to Wikipedia, quad-core chips will start at $129, six-core at $220, and eight-core at $319. Top of the line eight-core 4GHz model is $499.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Monday, February 13 2017 01:31 PM (PiXy!)
It looks like AMD are where they needed to be. The FX-8350 suffered from nearly 40% slower single-threaded performance, and limited multi-threaded scaling despite having eight cores. Zen seems to have fixed both the single-threaded performance and the multi-threaded scaling.
Motherboard pricing has started showing up too, essentially in line with Intel's mainstream boards, but a lot cheaper than the boards for their eight-core chips.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tuesday, February 14 2017 10:06 AM (PiXy!)
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