In a final hurrah for AMD’s Bulldozer and its derivatives, Bristol Ridge APUs will launch later this year. Coming in just before Zen arrives in Q4, the update will bring Excavator to the desktop as well as introduce the new Socket AM4. Today, we’ve been treated to the Geekbench scores for the FX 9800P. Given the results, it looks like Excavator will be a nice IPC increase over the current Steamroller APUs.
Deviating from the rumoured 2.7Ghz base clock, the FX 9800P in the Lenovo 59AC sample runs at 1.85Ghz. Of course, this could be off given that Geekbench might not be properly reading the clock speed. The chip managed to score 2216 in the single-threaded tests and 5596 in the multi-threaded portion. This is pretty competitive compared to the FX 8800P especially given the clock speeds. Given that we don’t know the cTDP setting, we can’t draw too many conclusions.
The biggest change compared to Carrizo is the use of AM4, FP4 and DDR4. Bristol Ridge will showcase the motherboards and memory controller that Zen will be using and that will be the most interesting part about it. By finally bringing Carrizo to the desktop in numbers, AMD will have a new desktop architecture since 2015.
Despite being stuck on the 28nm node for the past while, AMD has been working to bring more CPUs to consumers with better binning and performance as the process and technology matures. Case in point is the A10-7860K Godavari and Athlon X8 845 Carrizo chips launching today. Both chips are focused on increasing performance/watt either by using a new architecture design or simply better binning and process improvements.
First up is the 2M/4T Athlon X4 845, a 65W Carrizo part based on of the “Excavator” architecture. As expected of an Athlon part, it does not have an iGPU and uses the FM2+ platform with DDR3 and PCIe 3.0 x8. As the sole desktop Excavator part, the chip is a bit of a curiosity with only 2MB of L2 instead of the usual 4MB but still manages to have a higher IPC due to improved pre-fetch, large L1 cache and better branch prediction. The low power nature of Excavator also limits the clock speeds to 3.5-3.8Ghz.
Next we have the A10-7860K which is a Steamroller based 2M/4T chip with 512 GCN Stream Processors. With a 3.6-4.0Ghz clock speed, the chip places lower than the 7890K and 7870K but it comes in with a 30W lower TDP at 65W. Despite the lower TDP, the 7860K will get the 95W cooler which should make it a good choice for an HTPC/budget gamer. Overall these chips should tide AMD over till more Excavator and Zen based APUs hit later this year.
Documents have surfaced, via Benchlife.info, that suggest AMD is starting its transition from Excavator architecture to Zen architecture, with the company’s new Socket AM4 arriving on new motherboards by March 2016.
AMD has been using its Socket AM3 for over six years, so is well overdue an upgrade. The AM4 socket will support both Zen CPUs and Bristol Ridge APUs, plus DDR4 RAM and future FX CPU and APU support. DDR3 will not be supported, however. The 14nm Zen processors will support Simultaneous Multi-Threading Support Technology (SMT), allowing a performance increase of up to 40% Instruction Per Clock (IPC).
Recent unverified reports suggest that the Zen architecture has been fully tested by AMD and has “met all expectation[s]” with no “significant bottlenecks”, with hopes high that the new processor line could rejuvenate the ailing chipmaker and be more “competitive against Intel” following the relative failure of its Fury GPU series this year.
AMD’s Zen architecture, built on the company’s new 14nm process, will prioritise increasing per-core performance over core count and multi-threading, and will sport 95W TDP.
When AMD launched their new Zen architecture back in May, the firm announced that Zen would arrive for the CPU and APU lines at the same time. According to slides from March that have now been leaked, it looks like AMD might have originally planned for Zen to arrive in 2017, one year later than the current roadmap seen below. Zen would have been pushed back to Raven Ridge, a name that AMD might still keep in their current roadmap.
That wouldn’t have been too surprising given that AMD has had their APUs lag a year behind their CPU and GPU line in the past. The added complexity of the integrating the two parts has meant that there have to be delays. AMDs first APU, the Llano series, launched with Stars K10.5 and Terascale when dedicated chips with Bulldozer and GCN were launching the same year. It would have meant that APU users wouldn’t see the 40% IPC gain AMD is promising with Zen till after 2016. By tightening up their lineup, AMD stands to focus their lineup and make their APUs a better option.
As we now know, AMD is updating their APU line with Excavator for Carrizo. It looks like AMD still thought there were optimizations left for Bulldozer as Excavator was set to get a refresh in 2016. Despite a somewhat disappointing launch, steady updates have improved the architecture. Nethertheless, Zen will mark a significant improvement that AMD fans can look forward to.
When it’s all said and done though, this is still just an unconfirmed leak no matter well the info meshes with what we know and expect. It if is real, it looks like there was some serious changes done internally to bring Zen tot eh APU line early. Given this type of long-term planning exhibited, it’s unlikely AMD will shed any divisions, especially the core CPU and GPU business.
New information for AMD’s upcoming CPU architecture has been leaked ahead of the company’s annual Financial Analyst Day. The leak image appears to be an official slide details the block diagram for the next generation architecture. If this slide is legitimate, this will offer the first glimpse into the innards of AMDs first major desktop architecture change since Bulldozer was introduced in 2011.
On the left side, the diagram shows a complete Excavator module, looking very much the same from a high level as the Bulldozer before it. You can see the two integer clusters and the single shared floating point cluster. One such cluster makes up two cores and it’s due to the shared nature as well as the small integer clusters that AMD single thread performance has been suffering. AMD gambled on increased parallelism to counter the weaker integer units and GPU compute to address floating point performance. However, computing parallelism has been elusive as many tasks are sequential in nature and GPU computing is still only for some specific workloads. The failure of the gambit has seen AMD processor performance stagnate over the past few years.
This new Zen core appears to a complete change in AMD’s strategy. On the right side, we can see what appears to be one Zen core. In a move that hearkens back to the old K8/10 and Intel’s Core architecture, this single core is given much more resources to play with. With a total of 6 integer pipelines and 2 -256bit AVX floating point units (with potential to combine for 512bit instructions), the core has much more resources to play with, something that should lead to a significant improvement in IPC and single threaded performance. This is the same number of interger and floating point units found in K10, though obviously with improvements.
Many commentators had previously suggested that AMD should have evolved K10 with is much better IPC rather than pursue Bulldozer. While working off K10 would have ben complicated, taking design cues from K10 as Zen likely did, was probably the best way forward to improving performance. This information builds on previous information pointing to DRR4, HBM and quad channel support coming in 2016. Intel will be launching their own mainstream DDR4 Skylake processor later this year. Perhaps, Intel will finally have some high-end competition in 2016, though then again, we will have to wait and see.
We’ve heard a lot about AMD’s Next-Generation desktop APU platform, codename Carrizo. Last year we heard that the expected arrival date was to be 2015, and up until now we thought this was still on-track especially when details about the A10-8890K APU were released that showed support for a new FM3 socket. New rumours suggest Carrizo may now be delayed for the desktop platform – although the reasons are not entirely clear. AMD will not release Carrizo desktop APUs until 2016 and instead they will refresh the Kaveri product stack to bring out the 5th generation of APUs based on that. Carrizo will still arrive in 2015 in its mobile form according to the source, but there’s no sight of the desktop variant. That’s strange given the roadmap below that leaked from AMD suggesting Carrizo was to be released in 2015.
If the rumour is true Carrizo could now be the 6th generation of AMD APU, not the 5th as that title might get taken by Kaveri refresh. That means like with the Trinity to Richland transition the new Kaveri Refresh parts will be based on virtually identical physical components except they will get speed bumps and some performance and power optimisations. From my perspective this seems like a prudent financial decision being made by AMD: they need another generation of Kaveri APUs to fully profit from all the R&D that went into Kaveri, it also buys them some more time to tweak and tune Carrizo to make that release as competent as possible.
Based on current rumours we think that AMD’s Carrizo will bring a new socket to the table: possibly FM3 or FM3+, but will also retain backwards compatibility with FM2+. It should also introduce a new CPU architecture, possibly based on the Excavator design. It may bring DDR4 support too since DDR4 will be commercially viable from September 2014 when Intel introduces X99, Intel should also introduce DDR4 to its mainstream platforms next year. The other possibility is that Carrizo may opt for stacked-DRAM and DDR3 in order to keep costs down.
Digitimes reports that AMD has revised its product roadmap for 2014-2015 due to changes in the industry. AMD will proceed with the unveiling of its Volcanic Islands GPU family in late-September 2013. In the first quarter of 2014 they will apparently unveil their fourth generation of APUs codename Kaveri and Kabini. Kabini in socket ST3 for notebooks and FS1B for desktops while Kaveri is still believed to be FM2+. Mass production begins in February 2014 and public announcements in March.
“The Kabini-based APUs will have power consumption of 25W and AMD will release two quad-core models, A4-5350 and A4-5150, as well as a dual-core model E1-2650.”
Kabini’s successor “Beema” is also rescheduled for a launch in the second half of 2014 or first half of 2015 and will also adopt the FS1B socket for AMD’s Heterogeneous Systems Architecture (HSA).
“AMD’s FM1 and AM3 sockets will start phasing out in mid-2013 and the end of 2013, respectively. By the end of 2013, Socket AM3+ processors will account for 30% of AMD’s total processor shipments, while Socket FM2-based processors will account for the remaining 70%.”
In 2015 AMD is expected to release Carrizo based APUs featuring the Excavator architecture with two power consumptions specifications of 45W and 65W, these will replace Kaveri. Nolan will be brought in 2015 to replace Beema.
To clarify potential confusion here is a summary of the changes to the APU roadmap:
High End Desktop APU – Kaveri (Q1 2014) -> Carrizo (2015)
Mobile and Entry Level Desktop APU – Kabini (Q1 2014) -> Beema (H2 2014/H1/2015) – > Nolan (H2 2015)
The future of AMD’s AM3+ processors remains mysteriously unknown. Plans of a successor for the FX AM3+ series is not detailed yet, we may see one, we may not.