TSMC Hits Volume Production Of 7nm Silicon With AMD Zen 2 And Vega 7nm Incoming This Year
AMD has had some great momentum since it unleashed its first Zen-based processors to market early last year. A little while later, we saw EPYC hit the enterprise market and Threadripper hit soon thereafter, to cater to high-end enthusiasts and workstation users. Recently, the company followed-up its initial Ryzen release with second-gen parts, and Threadripper 2 is also en route and due in a couple of months (which includes a beastly, 32-core part).
Based on what we're seeing right now, it doesn't appear this momentum is going to slow down anytime soon. We've already known for a little while that AMD planned to launch 7nm product later this year, and based on new information, it looks like the company won't have much problem delivering 7nm GPU and CPU solutions manufactured at TSMC by the end of the year.
One thing to note regarding AMD's initial 7nm moves, though, is that gamers and desktop users are not the initial targets. Enthusiasts are not even on the radar just yet. Instead, second-generation EPYC server processors are set to launch on 7nm, and begin sampling later this year, with full market availability coming in 2019.
On the graphics side, the idea of a 7nm Radeon RX Vega sounds great, but it'll actually be a Radeon Instinct card and, potentially, a new product in the Radeon Pro line-up. The Radeon Pro mention is interesting, because it's as close to a desktop use case as we'll get from 7nm in 2018, but that assumes the products all launch according to plan.
SIGGRAPH, the professional graphics conference, take place in Vancouver in Augist, and it's at this show where AMD has generally announced their proviz products, like the Radeon Pro. We could learn a lot more at that event, though since it's still two months off, we may very well hear about something sooner than that. The rumor mill has been running rampant lately.
Even when it has bleeding-edge 7nm products in its portfolio, however, AMD will have a steep, uphill climb with its Radeon Instinct cards, as NVIDIA simply dominates the market right now with its Tesla GPUs. Just last week, Oak Ridge National Laboratory dropped over $100,000,000 on NVIDIA Volta-based GPUs used in the world's fastest supercomputer. That kind of success is hard to come by.
On the CPU side, 7nm EPYC processors are a very enticing prospect, especially considering Intel's current 10nm woes. Using the more advanced manufacturing process and incorporating the architectural tweaks expected with Zen 2 could allow AMD to eke additional IPC out of their chips, and increase frequencies, while also keeping power in check. All of those things are ideal for desktop and workstation users, but they mean higher density, more performance, and a lower TCO in the data center as well. Though, with a 32-core 2nd Gen Threadripper incoming, users will not need to wait for 7nm before getting their hands on a truly high-end CPU option from AMD.