Tuesday February 07, 2017

AMD Zen Shrinks x86 Area and Power

Recently at the ISCC, International Solid-State Circuits Conference, it was revealed that the upcoming AMD Zen cores are more compact than Intel's current 14nm x86 core technology. Intel engineers and analysts agreed that the Zen core is clearly competitive, but there are other variables to account for. AMD's decision to use a metal-insulator-metal capacitor has led to a 15% reduction in switching capacitance. This gives Zen an edge with lower operating voltages, greater per-core voltage, and frequency control. Also of note is that there are two eight-core designs running at 3.4GHz with simultaneous multithreading enabled.

As mentioned above there are many other variables for AMD engineers to contend with when designing the new Zen core. I'm going to temper my excitement for the new Ryzen processors coming from AMD until Kyle can benchmark them with some real world testing. Show me the numbers is the rallying call, but this news does get me excited for the launch. What does two eight-core designs mean exactly? x86 and ARM?

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The paper detailed techniques AMD used to reduce switching capacitance by 15 percent compared to its existing chips. For example, Zen marked AMD’s first use of a metal-insulator-metal capacitor which helped lower operating voltages and provide greater per-core voltage and frequency control.

Engineers tracked on a weekly basis power benchmarks on high activity regions for more than a year to reduce switching capacitance. The company now has two eight-core designs running with simultaneous multithreading at 3.4 GHz.