AMD has had a pretty good year so far, from it’s Polaris GPU launch to its much hyped Ryzen launch a few months back. And going by all that was discussed at its Financial Analyst Day, AMD seems to have big plans for the coming year as well. AMD detailed all that it has in store for the coming years including the first of Radeon Vega graphics cards – the Radeon Vega Frontier; AMD Zen 2 and Zen 3 CPUs aside from the much awaited 16-core Ryzen ThreadRipper CPUs; the codenamed – Naples server processors under the new EPYC brand; and lastly Ryzen Pro desktop and mobile processors which offer “deliver powerful multi-threaded performance for premium business PCs with workstation-class performance, state-of-the-art silicon-level security, and reliable solutions with enterprise-class support and top-to-bottom manageability”.
AMD President and CEO, Dr. Lisa Su started off the announcements with emphasis on how AMD was very much focused on delivering products and technologies for a combined $60 billion market. “We are entering the next phase of our growth strategy through ramping our phenomenal new products across a diverse set of markets. AMD is the only company with the combination of high-performance computing and graphics technologies required to deliver truly immersive and instinctive computing experiences.”, said Dr. Lisa Su before handing it over to Mark Papermaster, Senior Vice President and CTO who went on to elaborate upon the upcoming Zen processors.
AMD Zen 2 and Zen 3 on 7nm
Ryzen CPUs have been basking in the limelight thanks to its disruptive strategy of providing a much higher core count and a lower price point that what was traditionally being offered. They’ve had a few hiccups with gaming performance but overall, Ryzen has turned out to be a real game changer. It seems AMD is set to take yet another disruptive leap as the follow-up to its current Zen architecture, which is currently known as Zen 2, will move to a 7nm process node. And Zen 3 is planned to utilise an optimised version of the process node which TSMC is calling 7nm+. It will reportedly, have 1.2 times the logic density and 10% more performance along with 15% power savings over the 7nm technology.
AMD’s Infinity Fabric technology which was introduced a while ago will be adopted into all new products beginning this year onwards. This will allow for a high-scalability across AMD’s offerings. At the briefing, Mark Papermaster had this to say, “Our engineering focus remains on delivering a steady drumbeat of new high-performance CPU and GPU architectures that build on the strong foundations we have set with ‘Zen’ and ‘Polaris’ to drive broader adoption of our products. Infinity Fabric is the secret sauce within each of our products that allows us to bring together our leadership x86 CPUs and graphics in an efficient way to deliver breakthrough products to meet the needs of the most demanding workloads.”
Radeon Vega Frontier and Navi
Moving away from the CPUs, AMD then unveiled the first ever Radeon Vega graphics card – Radeon Vega Frontier Edition. It’s being marketed by AMD as competition to NVIDIA’s Tesla cards focusing on machine learning and advanced visualisation. By the looks of it, Radeon Vega Frontier seems to be a flagship compute graphics card with 64 compute units (4096 stream processors) that deliver an estimated 25 TFLOPS of FP16 and an estimated 13 TFLOPS of FP32 peak performance. In comparison, the NVIDIA V100 based on the upcoming Volta architecture does 14.9 TFLOPS of FP16 performance. Which is why everyone’s eyes will be on AMD at Computex 2017 where they’re rumoured to unveil gaming graphics cards based on the Vega architecture.
At the unveiling, AMD did showcase a few benchmarks for Radeon Vega Frontier while claiming that it can deliver more than 30 per cent more performance than current machine learning GPUs in DeepBench benchmark. Vega will be followed by Navi which, like the processors, will move to 7nm process technology. It seems that AMD is skipping intermediate process nodes to provide massive leaps in performance. Obviously, we’ll believe it when we see it.
Out goes Opteron, in comes EPYC
Based on Zen architecture, the Naples server CPUs have finally been given a new avatar as EPYC. EPYC incorporates eight Zen modules into one die to produce a 32-core / 64-thread monster CPU. EPYC CPUs will support 8-channel DDR4 memory with support for 16 DIMMs and 128 PCIe Gen 3 lanes. The first of these server processors will be out in June 2017.
In their presentation, AMD compared a 2S EPYC system to a 2S Intel E5-2699A V4 system. The former having 64 cores, 16 memory channels and 128 Gen3 PCIe lanes while the latter having 44 cores, 8 memory channels and 80 PCIe Gen3 lanes. Intel too has a few things up its sleeve with the new Xeon lineup but we’re yet to get more details on that.
Core i7 Extreme, meet Ryzen Threadripper
AMD’s Ryzen 7 1800X was certainly competing with some of Intel’s High-End Desktop SKUs but that doesn’t seem to be enough for AMD as they announced Ryzen Threadripper. AMD’s 16-core/32-thread platform scheduled to hit markets this summer. Intel too is slated to launch an entirely new lineup under the Core i9 brand, so even the HEDT segment is up for some action. We should see more information about Threadripper and Vega graphics cards at Computex 2017.
Ryzen 3, Ryzen Mobile and Ryzen Pro
The upcoming Ryzen 3 launch was also discussed at AMD Financial Analyst Day 2017 but not much new information was introduced. AMD announced that OEM partners would be coming out with Ryzen powered desktop machines as well as Notebook computers in the coming months. We’ve already heard of ASUS’ plan to release laptops with Ryzen Mobile APUs (codenamed Raven Ridge) which will be 4-core / 8-thread Zen based APUs powered by Vega graphics. We will be seeing 2-in-1 laptops, ultraportables and gaming laptops featuring these processors in the coming months.
Lastly, AMD is coming up with a new series of processors under the Ryzen PRO branding aimed at commercial, enterprise and public sector implementations. These will be available in the second half of 2017 with Ryzen PRO mobile solutions coming in later in the first half of 2018. Jim Anderson, Senior Vice President and General Manager, AMD Compute and Graphics business group had this to say, “Strong adoption of our AMD Ryzen processors shows customers are ready and excited for the innovative performance and features we deliver ─ and we’re just getting started. Our upcoming AMD Ryzen processor lineup builds on the foundation we have set to drive our further expansion into the high-performance desktop, premium consumer notebook, and commercial markets.”