AMD Zen 5c Comes Into View With Codename Prometheus But What Is It Exactly?
As PC hardware enthusiasts, we talk about code names a lot. Stuff like "Raptor Lake" and "Bergamo" are technically internal names that aren't really supposed to be used in an official context. Intel, for example, would prefer that we say "13th-Generation Intel Core Processor" and AMD would like to read "AMD EPYC 9704-series Processors". There are a lot more code names than you probably realize, though. AMD's Ryzen 7000 desktop processors based on Zen 4 are known as "Raphael", but the Zen 4 core itself has a separate code name: Persephone.
We've heard from past leaks that the Zen 5 core is code-named Nirvana. That's an odd choice, as historically AMD's CPU architecture code names have been based on mythological figures, like the aforementioned Persephone. Along similar lines, the dense core Zen 4c was code-named Dionysus, who in classical mythology was the son of Persephone.
Interestingly, the codename for Zen 5c may in fact be Prometheus. This information comes to us by way of Korean-language hardware leak blog Gamma0Burst, who presents some heavily-redacted screenshots (above and below) that appear to be from LinkedIn posts by AMD employees, or possibly former AMD employees. One of these screenshots links the two names, Nirvana and Prometheus, together as something that an employee worked on concurrently.
Gamma0Burst goes on to hypothesize that, because Zen 5c appears to have a codename based on mythology, it's possible that Zen 5c is in fact an evolution of Zen 4c rather than being a dense version of Zen 5. It makes sense; if Zen 5 is a new architecture aiming for maximum IPC as we've heard recently, then basing the dense cores on the simpler Zen 4c design could be a way to differentiate the two.
However, we have to point out that we also know that the codename for Zen 6 is Morpheus. This, too, was revealed in a LinkedIn post from an AMD employee. Morpheus, of course, was the primordial god of Dreams in classical mythology. This leaves only Nirvana as the odd one out. Nirvana is of course the Buddhist state of enlightenment; while arguably mythological, it's from an entirely other pantheon than the rest of the codenames.
The blog post also presents another heavily-redacted screenshot where someone seeming to be an AMD employee lists numerous fabrication processes, presumably that they either used or are familiar with. For those who don't know, microprocessor design has to take into account the characteristics of the fabrication process that it is destined for, so familiarity with the characteristics of a given process is important.
The list includes not only the expected TSMC and GlobalFoundries processes, but also "Samsung 4nm". AMD hasn't worked with Samsung on fabrication recently, and it hasn't made any official announcements about considering Samsung's foundry services, so this is pretty interesting. As far as we know, AMD's Zen 5 CPUs will be fabricated using TSMC's N3 and N4 processes, but perhaps some other projects could find their way to Samsung's 4LPP technology.