Zen 6 Leak? AMD's Next-Gen Sound Wave APUs Break Cover

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AMD's current-generation client processors can be broadly divided into two groups: chiplet CPUs and monolithic APUs. Currently, both have Zen 4 CPU cores and RDNA graphics, but the integrated GPUs on the chiplet processors (like the Ryzen 9 7950X3D) are downright puny, while the integrated GPU on the monolithic parts (such as the Ryzen 7 8700G) is quite potent indeed.

It seems like things are about to get a bit messier when AMD's next-generation product stack fills out. We've already reported on the upcoming Strix Point and Strix Halo chips, as well as the rumored "Kraken" processors that are thought to be vaguely analogous to the current-gen Hawk Point. However, the latest leaks indicate the existence of something called "Sarlak" as well as another chip codenamed "Sound Wave".

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These details originate on Linkedin and were spotted by Korean site Gamma0burst, who specializes in exactly this kind of data mining. An engineer posted that they had worked on "STRIX A0, Sarlak, STRIX B0, Kraken, and Sound Wave" projects at AMD. Strix A0 and Strix B0 likely refer to the Strix Point and Halo processors, although it's possible that there are two variants of Strix Point and that what leakers have been calling Strix Halo is in fact this "Sarlak" thing. The obvious reference to the terrifying pit monster from Star Wars doesn't reveal much.

Sound Wave is the real question mark here. The name is completely new to the scene, and while the manufacturing processes given in the employee's Linkedin post are clearly wrong—there's no way Strix is using 7nm—we have to note that he marks down Sound Wave for 3nm. While there will purportedly be Zen 5 processors built on 3nm, it's possible that Sound Wave is the first appearance of a chip implementing the Zen 6 "Morpheus" core.

Image: Hasbro

On the other hand, Sound Wave (more properly "Soundwave") is the name of a character from the Transformers series who is known for deploying small Transformers called "Mini-cons". If we can wax hypothetical for a bit, we think it's actually more likely that Sound Wave is a very small processor in the Zen 5 family.

In fact, it could be a semi-custom part like the Steam Deck's Aerith and Sephiroth chips. Soundwave's robot form is that of a microcassette player; the name (including the pop culture reference) lines up nicely with the idea of a future Steam Deck's APU. Indeed, Gamma0burst says that it is likely that all of the above-mentioned chips combine Zen 5 CPU cores with RDNA 3.5 graphics.

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Linkedin screenshots redacted for privacy by Gamma0burst.

We might have the wrong idea about Kraken, though. In another AMD-related Linkedin leak spotted by Gamma0burst in the same post, a different engineer mentions "Strix, Sarlak, Kracken [sic] IO dies". Strix Halo has been thought to be a chiplet-based design all along, and similarly, we don't really know anything about Sarlak—though the fact that both Strix and Sarlak are mentioned here casts doubt on the idea that Sarlak is actually "Strix Halo". Kraken was thought to be a small monolithic processor, though; if Kraken is chiplet-based, then the earlier rumors concerning its 4+4 core configuration may not be accurate.

Gamma0burst notes that the easy assumption that all three products use the same IO die is unlikely considering that Strix Halo is supposed to have some 20 RDNA 3.5 workgroup processors (WGPs), while Kraken was rumored to have just 8. It's unlikely AMD would waste the phenomenal amount of silicon that would have to be disabled to use the same cIOD for both chips.