AMD Zen 4, 5nm Ryzen & Epyc CPUs Can Feature 80% More Transistors

Future AMD Ryzen series processors can feature a major density uplift with TSMC’s 5nm process node compared to upcoming 7nm based Ryzen 3000 series chips. The details of the TSMC 5nm or N5 process node were released last month and give us an insight into what to expect from future generations of Ryzen processors and how they would stack up against the competition versus the Intel lineup.

Future AMD Ryzen CPUs Can Boost Transistor Density By 80% and Feature 15% Speed Gain With TSMC’s Bleeding Edge 5nm Process Node

In a report published by PCGamesN, it is stated that if AMD was to utilize TSMC’s latest 5nm node, also dubbed as N5, the company may expect an uplift of 80% in transistor density, 15% in overall performance and a 45% reduction in die area with their next-generation Zen based Ryzen series. Following is what TSMC has to say of their 5nm process node:

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N5 has entered risk production in the first quarter, and we expect customer tape-outs starting this quarter and volume production ramp in the first half of 2020. With 1.8X logic density and 15% speed gain and an ARM A72 core compared with 7-nanometer, we believe our N5 technology is the most competitive in the industry.

With the best density, performance, power and the best transistor technology, we expect most of our customers who are using 7-nanometer today will adopt 5-nanometer. With N5, we are expanding our customer product portfolio and increasing our addressable market. Thus, we are confident that 5-nanometer will also be a large and long-lasting node for TSMC.

via TSMC

It looks like TSMC has confirmed volume production of N5 based chips as early as the first half of 2020 but AMD won’t be jumping the bandwagon that soon. We know that AMD has planned their Zen 3 processors to be based on the 7nm+ (EUV) process node from TSMC. The 7nm+ chips will make up for the large majority of TSMC’s orders from AMD. The 7nm+ process node itself delivers hefty increases in density (20%) and increases power efficiency by 10%. The Zen 3 based chips are planned for sometime in 2020 with Zen 2 launching this year.


The question is whether Zen 4, which is currently in development, would be utilizing the TSMC 5nm process node or not. If AMD ends up using TSMC 5nm node by 2021, they will have a huge edge on Intel who will still be relying on their 10nm process node for server and consumer-based CPUs. The Zen 4 chips, however, can also make use of another node that TSMC has planned to launch after N5, that’s the N6 or 6nm process node.

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While not providing the same logic density increases as 5nm (a measly 18% uplift which is around the same as 7nm+), the 6nm process node will offer 100% compatibility with 7nm and 7nm+ based products. So let’s say AMD wants to save time and offer better yields for their Zen 4 chips, then N6 is the perfect path to choose.

As we continue to improve our 7-nanometer technology and by leveraging the EUV learning from N7+, we now introduce N6 process. N6 has 3 major advantages. First, N6 has 100% compatible design rules with N7, which allow the customer to directly migrate from N7-based design, which substantially shortened time-to-market.

Second, N6 can deliver 18% higher logical density as compared to N7 and provide the customer with a highly competitive performance-to-cost advantage. Third, N6 will offer shortened cycle time and better defect density. Risk production of N6 is scheduled to begin in the first quarter year 2020 with volume production starting before the end of 2020.

via TSMC

So whether AMD chooses 5nm or 6nm for their next-generation Zen 4 based processors, one thing is confirmed and that is that AMD faces no impending danger from their rival Intel who are stuck with their 14nm process node till 2020 and will have 10nm to serve them for a long time, post-2020.

AMD CPU Roadmap (2018-2020)

Ryzen Family Ryzen 1000 Series Ryzen 2000 Series Ryzen 3000 Series Ryzen 4000 Series Ryzen 5000 Series
Architecture Zen (1) Zen (1) / Zen+ Zen (2) Zen (3) Zen (4)
Process Node 14nm 14nm / 12nm 7nm 7nm+ 5nm/6nm?
High End Server (SP3) EPYC ‘Naples’ EPYC ‘Naples’ EPYC ‘Rome’ EPYC ‘Milan’ EPYC ‘Next-Gen’
Max Server Cores / Threads 32/64 32/64 64/128 TBD TBD
High End Desktop (TR4) Ryzen Threadripper 1000 Series Ryzen Threadripper 2000 Series Ryzen Threadripper 3000 Series (Castle Peak) Ryzen Threadripper 4000 Series Ryzen Threadripper 5000 Series
Max HEDT Cores / Threads 16/32 32/64 64/128? TBD TBD
Mainstream Desktop (AM4) Ryzen 1000 Series (Summit Ridge) Ryzen 2000 Series (Pinnacle Ridge) Ryzen 3000 Series (Matisse) Ryzen 4000 Series (Vermeer) Ryzen 5000 Series
Max Mainstream Cores / Threads 8/16 8/16 16/32 TBD TBD
Budget APU (AM4) N/A Ryzen 2000 Series (Raven Ridge) Ryzen 3000 Series (Picasso 14nm Zen+) Ryzen 4000 Series (Renior) Ryzen 5000 Series
Year 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021?

The most interesting thing would definitely be how next-generation chips would be designed by AMD as they have already started the Chiplet revolution which will be arriving on their Zen 2 based processors in mid of 2019. The Chiplet design paves way for many interesting applications in CPUs, APUs, and SOCs along with ushering a new era of higher core count, higher efficiency and higher performance.

Which process node do you think would AMD utilize for the production of their Zen 4 processors?

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