During a presentation regarding datacenter technology and market trends, Liviu Valsan, a computer engineer at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, revealed some details regarding AMD’s upcoming ‘Zen’ Processors.
The upcoming CPUs are rumored to use a technology called Symmetrical Multithreading(SMT). Symmetrical Multithreading is much like Intel’s hyperthreading, which allows a CPU core to run multiple threads on the same core, which improves performance in heavily threaded workloads. Zen is also stated to provide a 40% improve to instructions per cycle(IPC), relative to their current Excavator architecture, and will support DDR4 memory and PCIe 3.0.
Perhaps the most exciting piece of information is that Zen CPUs may contain up to 32 cores. According to Valsan, the 32 cores processors will actually combine two 16 core CPUs onto a single die, using some form of connection to link them. We’ve previously seen multi-CPU motherboards, but this may be the first case of multiple CPUs on the same processor die.
If AMD is planning to sell 32-core processors, it likely means that they intend to enter the datacenter and server market. The best consumer-grade CPUs currently only contain 8 cores, with those being the AMD FX 8320/8350/8370/9590, and the Intel i7 5960x. With most consumer CPUs used in desktop PCs and laptops containing only 4 cores, It would be very surprising to see AMD release a 32 core CPU to the consumer market. If AMD uses a binning process similar to Intel, it’s possible they may sell 12 or 16 core “Enthusiast” CPUs, much like Intel’s Haswell-e series CPUs, which are binned Xeons with deactivated cores. Besides that, we expect the 32 core CPUs to be designed for usage in servers.
Zen is expected to be available towards the end of 2016, however no exact release date has been announced.