Today was the first major tech event of 2020: CES. Many prominent names in the industry from Sony and Microsoft to AMD, Intel and NVIDIA had their CES Keynotes today. Out of all these, AMD had the most interesting and diverse portfolio. Ryzen 4000 “Renoir” APUs based on the 7nm Zen 2 design are finally coming to the mobile space with the Radeon RX 5600M and its desktop variant, the 5600 XT and the OEM exclusive, 5600. That’s not all though. Tech journalists were able to get some more info out of the AMD CEO, Dr. Lisa Su. That’s right, we have a confirmation on the Zen 3 microarchitecture and Big Navi. And guess what? Both are coming in 2020.
Zen 3: AMD Ryzen 4000 and Epyc Milan
There have been many rumors and speculations regarding Zen 3 and the accompanying Ryzen 4000 (codenamed Vermeer) and Epyc Milan server CPUs based on the design. Like Zen 2, Zen 3 will also be a new microarchitecture based on the improved 7nm+ node from TSMC. That means higher boost clocks, better IPC, potentially (Intel-breaking) gaming performance all the while reducing the power draw. While we know very little about the Zen 3 design, we now have a confirmation that the new uarch will land in 2020 itself.
AMD CEO, Dr. Lisa Su confirmed it in an interview with AnandTech today. As already shared, the Zen 3 core has already been taped out and sent off to TSMC’s foundries for production. This means we’ll most likely see the Ryzen 4000 CPUs launch sometime in Q4 2020 or Q1 2021.
Considering that Intel is going to launch the 10th Comet Lake-S CPUs (essentially a 9th Gen rebrand) by Q2 2020, AMD will most likely limit Big Blue to the OEM and pre-built space by the time their 10nm chips hit retail (if they do that is).
AnandTech: AMD’s products have been on a very regular 12-14 month cadence for the last three years. Should we expect to see Zen 3 this year? In previous CES presentations you’ve shared 12-month roadmaps, but this year you only spoke about Q1 and Q2. Would you like to comment on Zen 3 or what’s coming?
LS: You should expect that we’re going to be very aggressive with the CPU roadmap. We think Zen 2 is the best CPU core out there today, and we’re very proud of it. We’ve completed the family and Zen 3 is doing really well, we’re very pleased about it and you’ll hear more about it in 2020. Rather than ask me the question three times Ian [laughs], let me clear: you will see Zen 3 in 2020!
AnandTech: To go beyond that, AMD has already spoken about how its Zen 3 products will be built on TSMC’s N7+. Does that help alleviate the situation, given how parts of your product portfolio will transition to a slightly different process?
A: It’s fair to say that all the variants of TSMC’s 7nm share a lot of technology between them, whether that’s N7, N7P, or N7+. The main thing is that we forecast well and plan for success. That’s what we’re doing.
Navi 21: “NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti Killer” and Ray-Tracing for AMD Radeon GPUs?
There was also mention of ray-tracing and Big Navi (Navi 21) that will supposedly wipe the floor with NVIDIA’s RTX 2080 Ti at a lower price. PC World’s Gordon was the one who asked the question. Dr. Su reaffirmed AMD’s interest in the high-end GPU market and verified the existence of a high-end or Big Navi. As for the launch date, it’s definitely coming in 2020.
When asked about ray-tracing, Dr. Su told the journalists to expect AMD Radeon graphics cards supporting the technology in 2020 itself. She explained that ray-tracing is still in its infancy stage and it will take time to mature, but we’ll most certainly see AMD GPUs supporting real-time ray-tracing in 2020.
Since 1st Gen RDNA doesn’t support ray-tracing, we’ll most likely see a new GPU most likely the Navi 21 based design this year and its derivatives powering AMD’s next-gen Navi lineup. This will be the same architecture powering the next-gen Xbox Series X and PS5 consoles.
Gordon Ung, PC World: Do you think that AMD has to have a high-end competitor in the discrete graphics market?
LS: [laughs] I know those on Reddit want a high end Navi! You should expect that we will have a high-end Navi, and that it is important to have it. The discrete graphics market, especially at the high end, is very important to us. So you should expect that we will have a high-end Navi, although I don’t usually comment on unannounced products.
Dean Takahashi, VentureBeat: Is real time ray-tracing in graphics going to be as big as NVIDIA says it is?
LS: I’ve said in the past that ray tracing is important, and I still believe that, but if you look at where we are today it is still very early. We are investing heavily in ray tracing and investing heavily in the ecosystem around it – both of our console partners have also said that they are using ray tracing. You should expect that our discrete graphics as we go through 2020 will also have ray tracing. I do believe though it is still very early, and the ecosystem needs to develop. We need more games and more software and more applications to take advantage of it. At AMD, we feel very good about our position on ray tracing.