AMD's Zen Architecture That Powers Ryzen Chips Set To Last 4 Years


For a moment there, Intel seemed the only chip manufacturer dominating CES 2017 with a slew of advanced tech announcements.

AMD, however, has perfectly timed the revelation of its own product, underscoring how it is not willing to yield any quarter to its rival in this most important tech exhibition of the year.

Better Performing Zen Chip

The chipmaker just announced its latest generation architecture simply labeled as Zen, which the company touts as a technology that sports an aggressive improvement to its proprietary Excavator architecture.

This is the previously reported technology that is expected to establish AMD as fearsome Intel rival. The public should be able to experience its performance in March and it will be embedded in a Ryzen CPU, which is known as the public face of AMD's chip technologies.

Specifically, a Zen-based chip can provide as much as 40 percent better performance. This is one of its most notable characteristics especially since Intel's seventh-generation chips could only offer lower performance improvements.

Zen Chip Lifespan

To top it all, AMD claims that the Zen architecture will have a four-year lifespan.

"We're not going tick-tock," Mark Papermaster, chief technology officer at AMD, told PC world. "Zen is going to be tock, tock, tock."

That statement is a not-so-subtle dig at Intel's so-called "tick-tock" model, which implies a two-year lifespan for a chip architecture. Here, the "tick" represents the year Intel builds a CPU from a smaller process technology. The "tock" stands for the time a brandnew architecture is introduced.

It must also be underscored that the four-year lifespan does not mean that AMD's new microprocessor architecture will simply get replaced once that window is up. It appears that the company plans to improve on it further, expanding its life by as much as three generations.

To put this in context, one can only turn to the AMD Bulldozer architecture introduced in 2011. It continued to live on through the Piledriver, Steamroller, and Excavator updates.

AMD vs. Intel

Upon announcement, the Zen chip effectively stole the thunder from the Intel Kaby Lake processor and AMD is punctuating it with a promise that its rollout is not going to be a paper launch because it will be immediately available from day one.

Consumers can also expect all the bells and whistles in the Zen chip as a next generation microprocessor. These include overclocking capability, increased processing power and the use of machine learning and predictive tables, among others.

While Intel's Kaby Lake may have been unceremoniously sidelined by the revelation of the Zen processor, AMD still has to contend with the upcoming Intel 10nm Cannon Lake chip technology expected to land in our midst this coming fall. One should note that Kaby Lake was manufactured using the 14nm process, making the upcoming chip a much more cutting edge competitor.

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