That AMD's Zen 5 processors will be much faster than current-gen Zen 4 (Ryzen 7000) chips is something we've heard before, but this time around, the spinning of the rumor mill comes from a fascinating source: Jim Keller.
In case you weren't aware, Keller is a renowned processor guru, and in fact led the development of the original Zen architecture at AMD way back in 2012.
He left Team Red three years later and is now CEO of Tenstorrent, but clearly he knows a thing or two about the Zen microarchitecture - and he's provided a pretty impressive guestimate of how effective it might be.
Granted, there are some considerable caveats involved - and we must be cautious around any pre-release speculation, especially this far away from launch - but let's dive in while pointing them out.
The first point to note is that Keller's estimations of Zen 5 performance are based on data center usage. However, that silicon still gives us a good idea of what Zen 5 will do for desktop PCs, as at their core - in a literal sense - the server and desktop chips are very much built along the same lines.
In a YouTube video (of a 'Nerds Talking to Nerds About RISC-V' event hosted by his company) Keller shows a chart of data center CPU performance (42 minutes 20 seconds in) comparing Intel, Amazon, as well as past AMD (EPYC) processors, along with numbers for Zen 5 and NVIDIA Grace which are estimates.
Specifically, this shows relative SPEC CPU 2017 INT Rate benchmark performance in which Zen 5 is estimated to be 30% faster than Zen 4 chips.
Interestingly, Zen 5 clocks are also displayed here and are slightly higher than Zen 4. So as PC Gamer, which spotted this, points out, we can see Zen 5 delivers 23% more IPC (Instructions per Clock) than the current generation (when those faster clocks are accounted for).
In the know
We don't know how Keller arrived at the Zen 5 results presented here, and indeed the benchmark isn't even marked as a 'projection' (which the NVIDIA Grace result is). But presumably Keller is at least quite well in the know when it comes to AMD's next-gen chips, and likely more than your average YouTube leaker.
Speaking of the latter, of course we can compare these figures to what we've heard in recent times from the usual suspects in terms of prominent hardware leakers.
YouTuber RedGamingTech is theorizing an IPC uplift of 20% to 25% for Zen 5, which appears to be pretty much bang-on with Keller's assertion of 23% here. Whereas Moore's Law is Dead is calling it a bit more conservatively at 20%, most likely, perhaps a touch lower.
The overall consensus seems to be that Zen 5 will offer a boost of around 20% over Zen 4, or slightly more than that, which would be a great result for AMD, of course.
These next-gen chips, likely Ryzen 8000 models, could be serious trouble for Intel when they arrive. The launch timeframe for Zen 5 CPUs is currently thought to be the first half of 2024, and we might just see them in Q1.
Intel may not advance much in that timeframe, and may only go through a Raptor Lake Refresh, or at least that's the belief of some rumor peddlers. That could leave Team Blue dangerously exposed to a speedy flanking maneuver from Zen 5.