AMD strikes back against Intel dominance with Zen

AMD wants to get into high-end desktop CPUs once again.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

"Our focus is on high-performance CPUs and GPUs."

This is what AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su told journalists gathered at an event last night in the San Francisco, a stone's throw away from the Intel Developer Forum gathering.

See also: Intel's fastest ever processor, coming this fall

And AMD has been putting the time and effort into powerful silicon lately. AMD makes the processors for both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, including the One S and the upcoming Project Scorpio, and it also released a very capable $200 graphics card in the form of the Radeon RX480.

Now AMD is once again setting its sights on the desktop PC.

At the event, the company officially delayed new CPUs based on its Zen architecture until "early 2017." But AMD was keen to fire a shot of Intel's bow at the event by showing a rendering demo where an 8-core/16-thread engineering sample Zen CPU outperformed an Intel 8-core/16-thread Broadwell-E CPU - Intel's $1,100 high-end Core i7-6900K - running at the same speed.

AMD's first Zen product will be an 8-core/16-thread 2.8GHz desktop CPU called Summit Ridge, which will run on the new AM4 platform. This chip will support DDR4 RAM, PCIe Gen 3, USB 3.1 Gen2, as well as NVMe and SATA Express. It will have a TDP of 95W.

A 4-core/8-thread 65W TDP chip is also in the pipeline, but further details are not available yet for this.

The new chips will feature 14nm FinFET (3D transistor) architecture, and feature a 40 percent performance boost compared to the current-generation hardware, as well as being more power efficient.

But it's not all about the desktop, either. AMD is keen for its server-oriented Naples SoC chips to make an impact too. These chips feature 32-cores/64-threads, and when installed in a dual-core arrangement offer 128-threads of compute power.

Summit Ridge is expected to hit shelves in the first quarter of 2017, but it's possible that some systems might be shipping by the end of this year. The server-oriented Naples chip will land during the first half of 2017.

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