With the AMD Zen 3 release date approaching, more and more is becoming known about the specs, performance, and prices of Ryzen 4000 CPUs. AMD’s Zen 2 processors have done well against Intel’s Coffee Lake competition, solidifying its brand once again in the halls of manufacturing greatness. From the looks of things, Zen 3 will continue this trend and keep fighting the good fight.
Zen 3 processors are going to be produced using an improved 7nm fabrication process, which will bring with it a whole host of opportunities for increasing efficiency and performance. Process node improvements usually promise increased transistor density, higher core counts, higher clock speeds, and higher instructions per clock (IPC). Zen 3 should also promise lower power consumption, but this could mean either a lower TDP or (more likely) more performance for the same amount of power.
The change in architecture from Zen 2 to Zen 3 isn’t merely a refresh, either – AMD’s Forrest Norrod has claimed Zen 3 is “an entirely new architecture.” This makes predicting Zen 3’s performance increase over Zen 2 quite difficult, as we could see an increase in-line with the slight architectural change that occurred between Zen and Zen+, or we could see something more like the leap from Zen+ to Zen 2. Either way, AMD enthusiasts will be happy – it’ll be good, or it’ll be great.
AMD Zen 3 release date
AMD’s CEO, Dr. Lisa Su, has confirmed that AMD Zen 3 processors will be released in 2020. AMD has also recently reiterated (via AnandTech) that Zen 3 CPUs will be released “later this year.” Our best guess for a Zen 3 release date is between July and September 2020.
AMD Zen 3 specs
AMD is using a completely new architecture for its upcoming Zen 3 processors, and these will be produced using an improved 7nm fabrication process from TSMC. This should allow for increased transistor density, lower power consumption, and potentially even more cores, all within the same trusty AM4 socket.
AMD Zen 3 performance
The Zen 3 architectural redesign makes us hopeful for a performance increase more in-line with the bigger Zen+ to Zen 2 jump than the smaller Zen to Zen+ jump – but this isn’t guaranteed. The increased transistor density that results from Zen 3’s improved process node should allow for the production of CPUs that give us quite the boost in frame rates.
AMD Zen 3 price
If AMD Zen 3 prices are anything like their current generation desktop CPUs, we should be looking at around $200 for its lower-end CPU and around $500 for its higher-end CPU. If there’s a Zen 3 equivalent of the Ryzen 9 3950X then this will likely sit around the $750 mark.
The AMD Zen 3 release date will be later this year, hopefully between July and September. We already knew that AMD Ryzen 4000 CPUs would be released in 2020 as this was explicitly confirmed by AMD’s CEO, Dr. Lisa Su, who, during a roundtable after the AMD press conference at this year’s CES, said: “let me be clear: you will see Zen 3 in 2020.” While the mid-late 2020 timeframe would match the intervals between AMD’s previous Zen, Zen+, and Zen 2 releases, the latest official comment from AMD states only that Zen 3 processors will be released “later this year.”
The original Zen CPUs were released in March 2017, Zen+ CPUs in April 2018, and Zen 2 CPUs in July 2019. The interval between these different generations’ releases means we’re looking at a potential release date between July and September 2020 for Zen 3 CPUs. But we’re hopeful for a Q3 2020 release date rather than Q4.
In fact, with TSMC’s new 7nm+ design having entered high volume production back in October, if AMD utilises this particular process node then it’s likely that TSMC has the production capability to roll out Zen 3 CPUs fairly soon. And it’s not just hard work that TSMC is putting into its process nodes – it’s money, too. The board of directors also recently released over 200 billion New Taiwan dollars ($6.74 billion USD) to help expand and develop its production capacity.
It’s uncertain which of TSMC’s 3 process nodes AMD will use for Zen 3, but if it uses the N7+ process, Zen 3 CPUs might start shipping sooner. N7+’s use of EUV promises fewer masks and manufacturing steps per wafer – at least in theory. So, splashing the cash, having an early start, and a potential 7nm+ process capable of quicker high volume production: all of these factors make us hopeful that AMD will hit a mid-late 2020 release date.
AMD Zen 3 should bring to its Ryzen 4000 series CPUs everything that we already love about Zen 2’s 3000 series CPUs, but with an extra bit of oomph. That extra oomph being an entirely new architecture, and an improved 7nm semiconductor fabrication process from TSMC – Either N7P or N7+.
It was previously thought that AMD Zen 3 CPUs would be based on TSMC’s N7+ process because AMD had called the technology “7nm+,” but during AMD’s recent 2020 Financial Analyst Day it changed the naming to merely “7nm” to save confusion. It hasn’t explicitly stated (via AnandTech) whether Zen 3 CPUs will be manufactured using the N7P or N7+ process.
TSMC’s latest process, N7+, uses Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, with TSMC being the first to make such technology commercially available. It uses a short 13.5nm wavelength in its production of semiconductors, which should allow for a potential 20% increase in transistor density and a decrease in power consumption by 10%.
If AMD goes with N7+, this leaves the door open for it to make a number of improvements, and potentially lower Zen 3 CPUs’ TDP, making for a more efficient CPU design. So, there’s the possibility of improvements to core count and clock speed with Zen 3. However, with higher core counts and clock speeds, this might offset the lower default power consumption. That’s kind of the point, though, right? Decrease the size and power consumption of a CPU’s core components so that you can supercharge them further.
If AMD goes with N7P, this will still allow for a more efficient CPU design, but likely won’t be as drastic of an improvement as would be possible with N7+. N7P uses Deep Ultraviolet (DUV) lithography for its manufacturing of chips and is marginally worse than N7+ on paper.
Based on the information gleaned from an AMD roadmap leaked a few months ago, it looks like Zen 3 chiplets will contain 32MB of unified L3 cache, as opposed to the current 16MB L3 given to each four-core complex. The L3 cache’s bandwidth is also rumoured to be increasing with Zen 3, meaning the faster retrieval of memory vital for the CPU to access.
This 32MB of unified L3 cache could also indicate that each Zen 3 chiplet is a complete 8-core complex, rather than being made up of a twin 4-core design as was the case with Zen 2.
In terms of compatibility, all you people out there who own an existing Ryzen motherboard will be happy to know that AMD’s Zen 3 line should still use the standard AM4 socket that Ryzen has used for its past three generations. AMD promised to continue the use of this socket until 2020, and the Zen 3 generation should be included in that. Probably. Though we’re not entirely sure how far back compatibility will go for previous Ryzen AM4 chipsets…
Regarding chipsets, AMD will reportedly be relying on third parties, likely ASMedia, to produce platform controllers fit for Zen 3 processors. There’s been no indication that AMD will be moving away from DDR4, however, so for all you bleeding-edge Ryzen people, your existing RAM is probably safe.
Given all these changes to the manufacturing process and inner workings of the upcoming Ryzen 4000 CPUs, AMD Zen 3’s performance might be a jolly jump up from the Zen 2 line. This isn’t just a ‘refresh’ like Zen+, either. While it might not be as big of a jump as its move from a 14nm to 7nm node, an improved 7nm process, and the increased transistor density that results from this, should allow for more cores, higher clock speeds, better single core performance, and ultimately higher in-game frame rates. Win, win, win, and win.
A key part of the boosted core performance is the increased instructions per clock (IPC) that Zen 3 should provide. Red Gaming Tech says that performance in mixed operations, which leverage both integer (Int) and floating-point (FP) calculations, reportedly provides “about 17% IPC gain on average.” But we obviously cannot yet confirm the veracity of these claims. This increase is 2% higher than the IPC increase we saw when moving from Zen+ to Zen 2. Clock speed increases combined with an IPC boost will make for one hell of a duo. Not only will Zen 3 processors push out more cycles per second, but they’ll also push out more tasks per cycle.
AMD has already come close to total domination of the enthusiast market with its Ryzen 3000 CPU range. It’s done this through the capability its 7nm process affords it; allowing for massively multi-core, simultaneously multi-threaded, inexpensive processors with high core clocks that don’t even consume that much power. There’s a reason AMD CPUs are all over our list of the best CPUs for gaming in 2020. We don’t expect this to change with its Ryzen 4000 line – its changes in architecture promise only further advances.
AMD has done really well on price with its current generation of Ryzen processors, partly due to its now-staple chiplet CPU design being a lot cheaper to produce than a monolithic design. There’s no reason to expect the price of AMD Zen 3 CPUs will be any different. If anything, the improved process node efficiency might allow for the reduction of prices. This is not a given, however. More likely any manufacturing savings will go into AMD’s pocket rather than be passed onto us gamers. But with over 260 million AMD Zen cores being shipped since 2017, it’s hard to imagine AMD sacrificing this upward trend by whacking on high CPU price tags. Not yet, at least.
The best we can say at this point is that there is no reason to assume a price range all too different from those of AMD Zen 2 CPUs when they were first released. However, AMD’s average selling price (ASP) has risen by 22% over the course of 2019, driven by higher demand for AMD Ryzen processors and the existence of dominant AMD CPUs at the top-end of the market. The following are the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Prices (MSRPs) for current Zen 2 CPUs:
Of course, if AMD releases a 4th-gen equivalent of the Ryzen 9 3950X, this will be at the top of the list, with a price tag to match up around $750. The change in production efficiency and maybe just the state of the market itself could make AMD price their newest generation of Zen 3 processors differently, especially considering AMD’s rising ASP.
Header image courtesy of Fritzchens Fritz, CC0 1.0.