September 03, 2016

AMD, GlobalFoundries Focus on Path to 7 nanometers

AMD’s recently-released Polaris GPUs and upcoming “Zen”-based processors are being made at the GlobalFoundries fab 8 plant in Malta, NY. Like IBM Power9 and Intel Kaby Lake, Zen uses 14nm process technology. Kaby Lake, released this week, is Intel’s third generation of processors to use the 14nm process, while AMD has just begun shipping 14nm production silicon (Polaris GPUs).

Interestingly, we learned this week that GlobalFoundries is skipping the 10nm process. A statement from AMD said that it will collaborate with GlobalFoundries on the 7nm technology node, building on the success of the 14nm node. It’s possible that AMD will use another fab’s services for a 10nm process node, but going from 14nm to 7nm would put the chipmaker in position to leapfrog Intel.

Intel’s 10nm die shrink is expected for the second half of 2017 with the debut of Cannonlake (formerly Skymont). This is the same time frame that IBM is releasing its 14nm next-gen Power9 CPU. AMD plans to launch its first 14nm CPU, the Zen-based “Summit Ridge,” in early 2017.

Zen Expectations

AMD showed off some of its new Zen-based silicon in San Francisco last month and talked up the new high-performance cores. The next-gen microarchitecture design, led by renowned chip architect Jim Keller, is said to enable a 40 percent improvement in instructions per clock over Zen’s predecessor, Excavator.

The “Zen”-based “Summit Ridge” desktops will utilize the AMD AM4 socket, a new unified socket infrastructure that is compatible with 7th Generation AMD A-Series desktop processors – previously codenamed “Bristol Ridge” – for exceptional performance and connectivity scalability required by AMD partners and customers. The first desktop systems featuring 7th Generation AMD A-Series processors and new AM4 sockets are scheduled to ship in the second half of 2016 in OEM PC designs.

With dedicated PCIe® lanes for cutting-edge USB, graphics, data and other I/O, the AMD AM4 platform will not steal lanes from other devices and components. This allows users to enjoy systems with improved responsiveness and benefit from future-ready technologies that the AM4 platform provides with a powerful, scalable and reliable computing solution.


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