AMD is well on its way to delivering CPU and GPU products built on a 7-nanometer FinFET manufacturing process. The question is, when? We could see an unveiling of new 7nm chips in just a few months at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, an annual event for companies to showcase new and future products.
There are several reports suggesting AMD will in fact unveil 7nm CPUs and GPUs at CES, all of which are based on AMD announcing that its president and CEO Dr. Lisa Su will give a keynote during the event. The announcement also talks about high-performance 7nm chips playing an integral role in 2019. So, it's very possible, though AMD never comes right out and plainly states an unveiling is imminent.
"In 2019, AMD will catapult computing, gaming, and visualization technologies forward with the world’s first 7nm high-performance CPUs and GPUs, providing the power required to reach technology’s next horizon. During her CES keynote, Dr. Su and guests will provide a view into the diverse applications for new computing technologies ranging from solving some of the world’s toughest challenges to the future of gaming, entertainment and virtual reality with the potential to redefine modern life," AMD says.
Take from that what you will. At the very least, this is a confirmation of AMD rolling out its 7nm CPUs and GPUs in 2019, even if that isn't exactly new information. Over the summer, AMD talked about essentially going all-in with 7nm manufacturing.
"We have invested heavily in our architecture and product roadmaps, while also making the strategic decision to bet big on the 7nm process node. AMD’s next major milestone is the introduction of our upcoming 7nm product portfolio, including the initial products with our second generation 'Zen 2' CPU core and our new 'Navi' GPU architecture," AMD's Mark Papermaster said.
"We have already taped out multiple 7nm products at TSMC, including our first 7nm GPU planned to launch later this year and our first 7nm server CPU that we plan to launch in 2019. Our work with TSMC on their 7nm node has gone very well and we have seen excellent results from early silicon," Papermaster added.
In a nutshell, AMD will be releasing 7nm Zen 2 CPU and Navi GPU products next year. This aligns with previously disclosed roadmaps, which is not insignificant because it indicates that AMD continues to be on track. Meanwhile, rival Intel is still working on its 10nm node. After several delays, Intel finally introduced a 10nm chip earlier this year, a mobile part found in some overseas laptops. Intel is aiming to deliver 10nm Cannon Lake desktop CPUs to consumers by the end of 2019, and recently said it's still on track as well.
How this plays out obviously remains to be seen. On the surface, it seems like AMD is getting ready to skip ahead of Intel, and perhaps by several months. Intel, however, argues that its 10nm manufacturing process is more advanced than the competition, partially because it is packing more transistors and is doing a better job with scaling. Intel has even proposed coming up with a new metric that better reflects chip designs.
"What is really needed is an absolute measure of transistors in a given area (per mm2). At the other extreme, simply taking the total transistor count of a chip and dividing by its area is not meaningful because of the large number of design decisions that can affect it—factors such as cache sizes and performance targets can cause great variations in this value. It’s time to resurrect a metric that was used in the past but fell out of favor several nodes ago. It is based on the transistor density of standard logic cells and includes weighting factors that account for typical designs," Intel said last year.
As they say, the proof is in the pudding. If all goes to plan, both companies will be serving up a batch of next-gen goodness in 2019.