CERN Engineer Leaks AMD Zen Details Confirming 32 Core Implementation And SMT

AMD is long overdue for a major architecture update, though one is coming later this year. Featuring the codename "Zen," AMD's already provided a few details, such as that it will be built using a 14nm FinFET process technology and will have high core counts. In time, AMD will reveal all there is to know but Zen, but in the meantime, we now have a few additional details to share thanks to a computer engineer at CERN.

CERN engineer Liviu Valsan recently gave a presentation on technology and market trends for the data center. At around 2 minutes into the discussion, he brought up AMD's Zen architecture with a slide that contained some previously undisclosed details (along with a few things we already knew). One of the more interesting revelations was that upcoming x86 processors based on Zen will feature of up to 32 physical cores.

AMD Zen Slide

Before you get too excited about the high core count, there are two things to note. The first is that AMD is employing a "bit of a trick," to use Valsan's words. To achieve a 32-core design, Valsan says AMD will use two 16-core CPUs on a single die with a next-generation interconnect, presumably one that would reduce or be void of bottlenecks.

The second thing to consider is that it's highly unlikely AMD would release a 32-core processor into the consumer market. Zen-based Opterons aren't out of the question—servers and workstations could take real advantage of the additional cores—but as far as FX processors go, it's more realistic to expect offerings to boast up to 8 cores, maybe even 16 at some point.

AMD Roadmap

Regardless of core count, one thing that's exciting is that AMD will for the first time use a symmetrical multi-threading (SMT) design. Intel's implementation of SMT is called HyperThreading and it's worked out quite well for the company, so hopefully the same types of performance gains will apply to AMD's own implementation of SMT.

Either way, AMD isn't sweating performance—the company previously made the claim that Zen will offer up to a 40 percent improvement in Instructions Per Clock (IPC) compared to its current processors, and that was reiterated by Valsan. He also pointed out that Zen will support DDR4 memory and PCI Express Gen 3.0.

Look for AMD to launch Zen to consumers by the end of the year.
Tags:  AMD, CERN, zen, (nasdaq:amd)