AMD Lays Out the Argument for Zen at Hot Chips Show
Company engineers outline the myriad innovations in the new CPU microarchitecture that are driving the performance and efficiency improvements in its Zen core.Officials with Advanced Micro Devices went to the Hot Chips 2016 show to preach the benefits of "Zen." Company executives last week were in San Francisco at a hotel not too far from where larger rival Intel was holding its annual developer conference to demonstrate the new Zen microarchitecture, which will form the basis of future processors that will power everything from fanless notebooks to supercomputers for high-performance computing (HPC) environments. AMD is expecting the Zen core, which is slated to begin appearing in high-end desktop PCs later this year and into 2017 and in servers in the second quarter, to fuel its push to become competitive again in the client and data center spaces. President and CEO Lisa Su and other executives introduced Zen in May 2015 as the cornerstone of the company's restructured product road map, and now have begun to show the industry what the new microarchitecture can offer in terms of performance and power efficiency. That brought Mike Clark, senior fellow at AMD, to Hot Chips in Cupertino, California, Aug. 23 to outline what company engineers did to build the new microarchitecture, which now delivers 40 percent better instructions-per-clock performance over the company's current Excavator core while keeping a lid on power consumption.
In an interview with eWEEK before the presentation, Clark and Sam Naffziger, AMD corporate fellow, talked about the challenges presented to them and other engineers four years ago when they were tasked with overhauling the AMD microarchitecture to create a core that will enable the company to once again compete in an increasingly crowded processor space. Not only did that space include traditional rival Intel, but also newer competitors in ARM and its array of manufacturing partners such as Qualcomm and Samsung, not to mention a revived IBM and its new OpenPower effort.