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AMD's next-gen Ryzen: biggest leap in CPU tech in years

AMD announces Ryzen, it's next-gen CPU family based on the Zen CPU architecture

By Anthony Garreffa from Dec 13, 2016 @ 15:00 CST

AMD Tech Summit 2016 - AMD has made its next-gen CPU family official, dubbed Ryzen, and we're only scratching the surface of what it's capable of.

AMD flew a very select number of tech press to Sonoma, California for its annual Tech Summit - where we were quickly briefed on Ryzen, AMD's new CPU family based on the Zen architecture.


The enthusiast SKU of Zen will arrive in the form of "Summit Ridge", which will be an 8-core/16-thread CPU clocking in at 3.4GHz minimum. We also have 20MB of L2+L3 cache, and AMD's newly-touted "Sensing and Adaptive Technology".


AMD's new AM4 platform will also launch early next year, with DDR4, PCIe 3.0, USB 3.1 Gen 2, NVMe and SATA Express storage technologies, and more.


AMD has made some radical changes with its Zen architecture, with some truly big advancements from its older Bulldozer, Piledriver, Steamroller, and Excavator architectures. The years of IPC loses to Intel are over.

Zen CPU Architecture Breakdown


The latest change in the Zen architecture is the new AMD SenseMI technology that has five parts: Pure Power, Precision Boost, Extended Frequency Range, Neural Net Prediction, and Smart Prefetch.


This is something that gives me a tingly feeling: Pure Power. AMD's new energy efficiency technology that monitors temperature, speed, and voltage - as well as throwing in adaptive control that manages everything in real-time for lower power consumption. As you can see, we're looking at something called Infinity Fabric, too.


Precision Boost is something that's also shaping up to be great, where it is incredibly optimized with on-the-fly clock adjustments to your Zen CPU with 25MHz increments. Precision Boost works together with Pure Power, too.


Extended Frequency Range is another surprise, because as AMD puts it - it rewards enthusiast cooling by permitting clock speeds far above and beyond the standard Precision Boost clocks. Not only that, but the clock speed scales with the cooling solution used - so if you're using air cooling, you'll have a certain limit - but if you're under water or LN2, well the sky is your limit.

Better yet - XFR is completely automated, so you don't need to worry about tweaking your Zen processor.


This is where things get interesting - with Neural Net Prediction, which AMD teases as a "true artificial network" inside of every Zen processor. Neural Net Prediction that builds a model of the decisions driven by software code execution, and then makes decisions for the future with pre-loaded instructions that choose the best path through the CPU.


Continuing on this intelligence within the Zen architecture is Smart Prefetch, which "anticipates the location of future data accesses by application code", and has "sophisticated learning algorithm models that learn application data access patterns". Smart Prefetch grabs data and throws it into local cache so that it's available for immediate, and super-fast use.

Final Thoughts - From My Zen State

I've been excited about AMD's next generation Zen architecture for a long time now, and have been a rabid fan waiting for it. I've been insulted, and pushed away from people because of the "superiority" that Intel have (and still have, until now). Intel's new Kaby Lake architecture seems like a flop from what I've read, and within industry friends who have 7700K chips that they've tested.


Ryzen couldn't come at a better time for AMD, it's almost like the stars have aligned - pun intended, since AMD is going with a star-named architecture system with Polaris, Vega, and more. AMD needs this, and Zen doesn't look like it's disappointing so far - but the things to come are even better.

I was included in a very small meeting where AMD compared two systems: an Intel Core i7-6900K ($1100 on Amazon) against the new Ryzen CPU - with both chips locked at 3.4GHz. Both systems were powered by 2 x NVIDIA Titan X graphics cards, running Battlefield 1 at 4K Ultra settings. AMD asked us to test the systems, so a few of us tested the systems - and I could not tell the difference between the systems.

I'm a performance nut, and love my frames per second to be at their highest - and even in a CPU bound situation (Battlefield 1 + 4K + Ultra + Titan X SLI) is a seriously hardcore system, the Ryzen CPU performed beautifully. It was an impressive thing to see, and it only makes me want a Ryzen CPU even more than I do now.

AMD is back, and they're back in a massive way. 2017 is only the beginning.


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