We’re just hours away from AMD’s Dr Lisa Su taking to the stage at 09:00 PST/18:00 CET/17:00 BST to detail the company’s highly-anticipated Zen 3 architecture. Here’s what we can expect ahead of the announcement, which you can watch here.
What is Zen 3?
Zen 3 is the successor to Zen 2, which is currently making up the majority of AMD’s Ryzen 3000 or 3rd Gen Ryzen CPUs. It saw a huge leap over Zen+ and really closed the gap between it and Intel in games, and extended leads elsewhere. It’s expected to remain a 7nm architecture, which AMD introduced with Zen 2 last year, but various leaks and rumors point at some significant performance gains in a number of areas.
TSMC’s enhanced 7nm process node
One area AMD really has an advantage is lithography and its 7nm CPUs have proven to be very power frugal, easily cramming 16 cores into the likes of the Ryzen 9 3950X and cooling it with modest hardware as well as drawing low amounts of power compared to Intel’s 14 and 18-core CPUs. The process has been refined so announcements that Zen 3 CPUs will offer lower still power draw or higher frequencies or perhaps a bit of both are widely expected, adding to AMD’s advantage in this area.
IPC and latency improvements
AMD has already dropped numerous hints here but the clearest is that we’ll see something you’d expect from an entirely new architecture. This could signal 10-15 percent improvement in IPC, which will undoubtedly mean more performance in areas such as content creation but also gaming, where Intel still pips AMD to the post in numerous titles. Latency is also expected to be cut, perhaps by creating higher core-count core complexes and unifying caches, which again is one reason AMD lags behind in some games, but more efficient communication within the CPU could well be detailed this afternoon and if so, could spell trouble for Intel.
The X670 chipset
Very little is known about a new chipset for AMD’s Zen 3 CPUs, but we already know that current X570 and B550 motherboards will support Zen 3 CPUs. PCIe 4.0 is also supported by them as well so rumors that AMD will not launch a new chipset this time have been circulating in the last few days. Motherboard manufacturers will likely still launch new motherboards, though, with refreshed models being likely targets for those upgrading from older hardware. Perhaps we’ll know more this afternoon.
What we don’t know
We’ve seen sporadic mentions of certain CPUs, which seem to suggest AMD is skipping the 4000-series naming scheme, but nothing is confirmed here yet. We also don’t know anything about confirmed core counts. The current limit is 16 cores with its mainstream desktop CPUs in the Ryzen 9 3950X. The next step up with Zen 2 CPUs is the Threadripper 3960X, which has 24 cores and it seems unlikely it would need to offer more for mainstream users and instead stick to a similar core count structure to its current Zen 2 CPUs, which stretch from four cores up to 16. We also don’t know anything about pricing, but it’s likely we’ll see something similar to current pricing.
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