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AMD Zen To Be A Serious Rival Of Intel CPUs

By Victor Thomson , Aug 25, 2016 03:00 AM EDT

Lisa Su, AMD president and CEO, stated during the AMD special event in San Francisco that the upcoming Zen processor will lay the foundation for a new line of products.

AMD Zen's Goals

During the AMD event, gaming and performance computing enthusiasts heard mixed news. The bad news is that the first Zen chips that were expected later this year will be delayed until early 2017. The good news is that the long-awaited Zen CPU architecture is constantly delivering a significant increase in processor performance in benchmark tests.

Top Tech News reports that the upcoming AMD Zen processor could potentially pose a threat to competitor Intel's CPUs. Advanced Micro Devices made radical changes for its flagship Zen design with the aim to become a force in the server and personal computer markets yet again. At next week's Hot Chips symposium in Cupertino, California, it is expected that AMD will reveal more details about the in-development Zen CPU core.

AMD Zen To Bring 40 Percent Performance Improvement

According to Computerworld, chip designers at AMD started to work on Zen's design four years ago with the goals to keep power efficiency stable and to improve CPU performance as much as possible. Ultimately, AMD decided to settle for a 40 percent improvement in Zen's performance over Excavator its predecessor processor.

Mike Clark, a senior fellow at AMD, explained that going for 40 percent performance improvement was a very aggressive goal, but the team knew that they had to do it in order to stay competitive. When it introduced Zen in 2015, the company promoted the 40 percent CPU improvement goal during an overhaul of its chip roadmap.

Recent benchmark tests demonstrate that Zen chips achieved the 40 percent improvement goal. Compared to low-double digit improvements claimed by Intel in recent x86 chips, AMD's impressive boost in CPU performance will be a radical improvement.

AMD Zen Core Features

AMD's Zen-based Summit Ridge 8-core 16-thread desktop processor arrives on top in benchmark tests when compared to an Intel Broadwell-E processor set to the same clock speed. According to Mark Papermaster, AMD senior vice president and CTO, the Zen architecture has indeed proved to deliver a 40 percent clock improvement over previous generations of AMD processors.

In terms of design features, Zen comes with a number of changes, including simultaneous multithreading (SMT) and a new cache hierarchy. The new architecture fixes most of the design errors made by AMD in its previous line of Bulldozer-based CPU cores. In fact, Intel has already used SMT to great effect.

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