AMD Unveils Zen 2 EPYC 7nm CPU with 25% Performance Gain

AMD shows Zen 2-based 7nm EPYC Rome CPU in action

Zen 2 will be the building block of its Ryzen and Ryzen Threadripper desktop CPUs as well as its EPYC server CPUs and is the most significant step in Zen's timeline for a number of reasons. Although exact dates and product specifications have not yet been revealed, AMD is hoping to achieve "double-digit growth" with this generation of products, according to CEO Lisa Su. AMD needs to keep driving performance upwards to stay competitive and already made significant gains with Zen+, offering higher frequencies and improved boosting algorithms that offered tangible benefits, especially in lightly-threaded workloads.

At a dedicated event in San Francisco today under the "Next Horizon" tagline, AMD announced that it is collaborating with TSMC to make the jump to the 7nm process node with its next-generation Zen 2 architecture.

However, that's not all for the 7nm manufacturing process.

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One aspect of the Zen2 design has only been rumored though, but now it has been confirmed: Zen 2-based Epyc processors will use a separate I/O die. AMD says this will greatly help with uniform memory access latency, which was potentially a bottleneck when data had to hop from one core complex to another. The IO chip has 8 channels of DDR4 plus support for PCIe 4.0. Rome CPUs will also be socket-compatible with existing Naples server motherboards. AMD said it reworked the Zen 2 core to offer double the throughput, increased floating point performance, a doubled core density and half the energy use per operation of Zen. The company is also claiming a potential 45 percent reduction in total cost of ownership for an Epyc-based server rather than comparable Intel hardware.

Rome is now sampling with customers and is expected to ship sometime in 2019, at which point we'll find out about all the product specs: SKUs, clock frequencies, cache sizes, pricing, and so on. Not only is Rome designed for backwards compatibility with Naples platforms, but will likely be forward compatible with the impending 7nm+ third-gen Milan in 2020. Zen 4 is also in development, but there is no further news on that yet. AMD also used the event to announce a major win in the cloud computing market, with Amazon's Web Services division launching instances based on current-generation Epyc processors which are claimed to beat their Intel-based equivalents on performance-per-dollar. Next year will be the first time ever that AMD's CPUs hold a process node manufacturing advantage over Intel.

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