AMD continues server push, introduces Zen 2 architecture


Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) revealed the Zen 2 architecture for its family of both desktop/laptop and server microprocessors that it plans to launch in 2019, with a promise of twice the performance throughput over the previous generation. The news came at a briefing in San Francisco that saw a number of AMD announcements.

Zen is the core architecture. On the desktop and notebooks, it’s sold under the Ryzen brand name. For servers, it’s sold under the Epyc brand. The next generation of Epyc, code-named Rome, is due next year.

Zen made AMD competitive with Intel once again after the disastrous line of subpar processors named after heavy equipment (Bulldozer, Piledriver, Steamroller). With Zen 2, AMD hopes to surpass Intel in all aspects of performance.

One big differentiator is AMD’s manufacturing partner, TSMC. AMD used to make its own chips but spun them out years ago as Globalfoundaries, where it was a major customer. However, Globalfoundaries found it extremely hard to keep up with bleeding-edge manufacturing processes and bowed out of the race to 10nm and 7nm.

TSMC, however, had the resources to do it and is making 7nm parts for AMD.

Intel, meanwhile, has been stuck at 14nm for three years, with 10nm still a way off. A 7nm chip offers twice the transistor density as a 14nm chip, which means reduced power consumption at the same level of performance, or increased performance at the same power draw. You can guess which option AMD will choose.

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