AMD hints at high-performance Zen x86 architecture

September 11, 2014 // 10:32 a.m.

Tags: #amd #amd64 #bulldozer #jim-keller #k12 #lisa-su #mark-papermaster #microprocessor #processor #raja-joduri #rory-read #semiconductor #x86 #x86-64 #zen

AMD has admitted that its Bulldozer microarchitecture was a misstep but claims that its next-generation replacement, Zen, will deliver the performance improvements required to become competitive with Intel once more.

Speaking at the Deustche Bank 2014 Technology Conference this week, AMD chief executive Rory Read gave a surprisingly honest appraisal of the Bulldozer microarchitecture around which its current-generation processors are designed. 'Everyone knows that Bulldozer was not the game changing part [expected] when it was introduced three years ago,' Read told attendees, according to a partial transcript prepared by WCCFTech. 'We have to live with that for four years.'

When those four years are up, however, AMD promises that it will have something a little special ready. 'For Zen [and] K12 we went out and got Jim Keller, we went out and got Raja Koduri from Apple, Mark Papermaster, Lisa Su,' Read explained, referring to his company's recent hiring spree of big-name industry specialists. 'We are building now our next generation graphics and compute technology that customers are very interested in [...] they’ll move to the next generation node and they’ll be ready to go.'

The speech is the first time AMD has publicly talked about its next-generation x86 microarchitecture, now confirmed as being codenamed Zen. This will launch, it appears, alongside the K12 ARM-based desktop architecture the company has been planning, in order to 'capture [desktop] ARM before it happens.'

Read did not provide any technical details of Zen, or how it differs from the current batch of Bulldozer and derived designs, but he did confirm that the company is targeting the usual manufacturing improvements including FinFET technology and process nodes down to the 14nm and 10nm size. The first FinFET-based product will, Read claimed, launch in 2016, but he did not provide a hint as to the process size.
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