AMD leaks Zeppelin 32-core chip hint

February 3, 2016 // 12:47 p.m.

Tags: #amd #amd-zeppelin #apu #architecture #cpu #microarchitecture #processor #zen #zeppelin

AMD's plans for its upcoming Zen architecture include a part dubbed Zepplin, which would appear to offer 32 physical cores and 64 logical threads per socket.

Designed to replace the company's uncompetitive existing microarchitectures, Zen is something of a Hail Mary for the fiscally troubled AMD. With the promise of significant gains in instructions per cycle (IPC) and some high-end parts aimed at enthusiast and data centre customers, it could be the launch that turns the company's fortunes around - or it could be the last architecture it ever makes. In either case AMD is keeping many details about its planned launches under tight wraps, but that hasn't stopped numerous leaks hinting at the upcoming devices.

The latest comes from a post to the Linux Kernel Mailing List by AMD's 'Ray' Huang Rui, first spotted by Matthias Waldhauer, revealing an upcoming processor dubbed the Zepplin - something of an awkward name for the company to have chosen, with the bulky and slow lighter-than-air crafts having lost out in the technology race to the far faster heavier-than-air aeroplane - boasting of support for eight bundles of four cores on a single chip, or 32 physical processing cores.

The Zen architecture is known to support a technology analogous to Intel's HyperThreading, allowing each physical core to execute two threads simultaneously. A 32-core Zepplin, therefore, would allow for the execution of 64 simultaneous threads - and if AMD is targeting the data centre market, two- or even four-socket systems may offer up to 256 threads per system.

The details released as part of the post shouldn't be taken as a product announcement, however. While previous leaks have revealed the Zeppelin codename, the number of cores suggested in the code fragment could simply be the maximum supported rather than the promise of a 32-core monster-chip at launch. AMD, of course, is saying nothing about the slip, beyond reiterating its plans to release the first Zen parts before the end of the year.
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