AMD Announces 12nm 2nd Generation Zen, 7nm Vega, 2018 Roadmaps

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AMD had a banner year in 2017, with the successful ramp and launch of its Ryzen CPU and APUs in desktop (CPUs) and mobile (APUs). Meanwhile, the company’s new Vega GPU also gave AMD competitive silicon in higher-end desktop graphics and machine learning — both fields it had all but completely ceded to Nvidia. The chip designer wants to sustain that momentum through 2018 and its kicking off CES with a wide range of announcements.

According to AMD’s CTO, Mark Papermaster, AMD is now building its second-generation Zen core. This 2nd generation Zen core is not the same as Zen 2, and we will refer to it as Zen+ to avoid confusion. Zen+ is built on 12nm and launches on April 18 alongside a new X470 chipset. Keep in mind, what AMD and GlobalFoundries are calling 12nm is better understood as a refinement and improvement of GF’s existing 14nm technology. According to Papermaster, 12nm offers a 10 percent performance improvement over 14nm, with additional opportunities to optimize performance per watt.

AMD hasn’t disclosed anything about enhancements to either CPU or chipset, but we’re expecting the company to use that 10 percent performance gain to push 2nd Generation Ryzen clock speeds up slightly, or to improve all-core Turbo speeds on its top-end chips. Papermaster does mention that Zen+ will launch with support for Precision Boost 2.

Papermaster-Zen2

As for the actual Zen 2, AMD has completed the design already, but gives no formal date for product introduction. GlobalFoundries has previously indicated it wants to be in 7nm production by the end of 2018, which would square with a 2019 introduction for Zen 2. There’s no information on how much Zen 2 will improve performance over Zen.

Before Zen+ arrives on April 18, AMD will launch Zen APUs for desktops and flesh out its mobile product family. The new desktop APUs (2400G and 2200G) will fill a hole in AMD’s product family that’s been weakening Ryzen 3. Unlike Intel’s Core i3, Ryzen 3 has no integrated GPU. The 2400G will offer four cores, eight threads, and a 3.9GHz max boost, while the 2200G is four cores, four threads, and a 3.7GHz max boost.

In mobile, AMD will launch two new Ryzen 3 SKUs on January 9. The Ryzen 3 2300U is a 4C/4T chip with a 3.4GHz boost clock and a 2GHz base with 6 CU units, while the Ryzen 2200U is a 2C/4T chip with a 2.5GHz base clock, 3.4GHz boost, and just 3 CUs. That core seems primed to go up against Intel’s Apollo and Gemini Lake, which offer four Atom cores and fairly weak GPU performance.

AMD’s Vega roadmap is a bit less clear. The company specifically stated its first 7nm hardware will be a Vega GPU designed specifically for machine learning workloads, with cards sampling in 2018. There’s no word of any down-market Vega introductions that would push it into Polaris’ territory, and it’s not clear if AMD will bring its 7nm Vega to market as a consumer product.

Papermaster-Vega

AMD is also planning a new Radeon Mobile family with HBM2 on-die, but revealed nothing specific about these SKUs. We’ve put together a slideshow with AMD’s major announcements and CPU information, shown below. Each slide can be clicked on to enlarge and open it in a new window.

Overall, AMD’s CES 2018 was mostly about filling in the cracks and corners where its 2017 Zen CPUs and APUs didn’t quite reach, with a modest desktop refresh in Zen+. That’s more or less what we expected. With a modest clock bump, Zen+ should do well through the year, and 7nm offers AMD the chance to deliver a better Vega than it landed with 14nm.

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