AMD Unlikely to Jump to 5nm For Zen 3, Despite Rumors to the Contrary

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There’s a rumor that is popped up in the past numerous days concerning AMD’s prolonged-time period programs for 7nm and 5nm. According to this rumor, which began with a DigiTimes post now sealed behind a paywall, AMD is now considered a Tier 1 TSMC consumer.

Supposedly, this newfound friendship between the two firms will end result in AMD launching Zen 3 on 5nm to steal a march on Intel in a further extension of AMD’s over-all market place management. There are numerous causes why this is unlikely.

First, there’s a major lag time between when CPU designs are sent to the foundry for producing (a method identified as taping out) and when they ship to clients. First, AMD sends the structure to TSMC. Then they check the hardware TSMC sends back, and tweak the structure as necessary. All of this requires numerous months, most effective-case. I do not know in which AMD is in the Zen 3 structure method, but 5nm is going to have solely unique structure rules than 7nm. There’s no way to promptly port from a person to the other. Leaping in advance in this fashion isn’t performed simply because the prolonged direct instances make it unattainable.


Next, it’s not obvious how substantially edge 5nm provides to AMD in the 1st spot. TSMC is predicting a 45 p.c density edge, which is terrific, but only up to 20 p.c superior electric power efficiency or 15 p.c further efficiency. Continue to keep in intellect, these are most effective-case scores, and to some extent, they are both/or.

I do not want to indicate in any way that AMD will not have a 5nm chip — they’ve previously acquired a person on the roadmap — but it’ll have to balance the structure very carefully to increase efficiency. At the Zen 2 briefing, AMD’s engineers told us candidly they had been stunned they had been capable to offer you any frequency enhancements at all at 7nm. This doesn’t bode nicely for clock scaling at 5nm. The Zen 4 crew will be working on that trouble previously, provided AMD’s explained structure cadence.

Third, AMD also doesn’t ordinarily direct the way on foundry node transitions. Apple and Qualcomm occupy that function these days, and we’d expect the subsequent-generation Iphone and Snapdragon elements to account for substantially of the 5nm potential when the node launches.

If you want a further illustration of how tricky it is to backport capabilities to a unique method node, contemplate Intel. Skylake launched in 2015. If you think the rumors, Rocket Lake is a 14nm chip with backported 10nm capabilities launching later on this 12 months. It’ll be the 1st new desktop CPU architecture from Intel in five yrs.

It didn’t choose Intel 5 yrs to backport 10nm abilities into a 14nm main, but the business was talking to us journalists about its endeavours to make that form of adaptability possible in 2018. Even if you presume they hadn’t even began the function still (a bad assumption, in my belief), it took two yrs to finish. Going a CPU architecture between nodes is not a trivial endeavor.

Update: The unique version of this tale referred to Rocket Lake as Intel’s 1st new architecture in five yrs. The phrase “desktop” was mistakenly omitted. Rocket Lake (if it conforms to rumor) will be Intel’s 1st new desktop CPU in five yrs.

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