After the special event that took place yesterday during CES 2021, Lisa Su, CEO of AMD, had an online communication with some media, during which she spoke about the company’s plans regarding the next generations of processors. Su spoke on various topics and praised the work of his team, including CTO Mark Papermaster, but he also gave some hints of what we can expect from the upcoming Zen 4 and Zen 5 architectures and the number of cores we will see. in these.
For some time we have seen that the number of cores in desktop processors for consumption (that is, those that ordinary users buy and mount on our computers in a normal way) seems to have stagnated, or at least its rate seems to it does not go up too much, and it is that quad-core processors have been standardized with Intel Core Quad for quite some time, and it was not until the arrival of Coffee Lake that the hexa core processors seem to have been gaining strength, but still And with that, even in the middle of 2021, quad-core processors are still the order of the day.
AMD Zen and its struggle to increase the number of cores
One thing is what can be considered normal or almost standard in the industry, and another thing is what the manufacturers offer. Thus, despite the fact that, for example, marketing teams have been putting 4K resolution through our eyes for many years now, today the normal is still Full HD resolution. The same happens with processors, despite the fact that both AMD and Intel (and especially AMD) have been developing and launching processors with many more cores, today the usual thing is still quad-core processors, or so the statistics say selling.
In any case, at the time when Intel was starting to launch 4-core and 8-thread processors, AMD already had its Bulldozers with 8 physical cores that delivered performance based on brute force. But the years have passed and it seems that the number of cores we only see it increase in the top-of-the-range processors, processors that are certainly not in the niche of the market with the highest sales volume because they have almost prohibitive prices, and as you well know In the end, what sells the most is always the mid-range, no matter how much the high-end range is put through our eyes.
Still, AMD has been a strong advocate of increasing the number of cores for a long time, but it was not until the arrival of Ryzen that this was finally reflected in a reward in terms of market share, and today in no one doubts that AMD is winning the battle against Intel after a lot of drought years in which those in blue have dedicated themselves to living off the rents.
For its part, Intel seems to be more advocate of improving the IPC and performance in a single core before integrating a greater number of cores in its processors, and this fact has undoubtedly contributed to the fact that today the normal and standard continue being processors with few cores. We do not have to look far, since the top-selling processor currently is the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X that has 6 cores and 12 threads, while Intel’s best-selling processor is the Core i7 10700K, in this case with 8 cores. and 16 threads.
AMD will break the 64-core barrier with Zen 4 and Zen 5
During the aforementioned media conference, Lisa Su stated that Zen 3 architecture has especially improved single-thread performance, cache latency, and have great overall system optimization, achieving a 20% performance increase. He also said that the company is putting all the meat on the grill with Zen 4 and Zen 5 to ensure strong competitiveness, but the most interesting thing is that Su pointed out that 64 cores will not be the limit and that AMD will move towards more.
If we take a look a few months ago we cannot help but remember the ThreadRipper 3990X that broke all records with its 64 cores and 128 threads at a maximum speed of 4.3 GHz, a processor that does have a price for which literally You can buy two complete high-end gaming PCs (to this day it still costs more than 4,000 euros). Actually, only in the ThreadRipper series we have seen large amounts of cores, but as you know it is not that they are processors oriented to the average user precisely.
We must therefore interpret Lisa Su’s words carefully; claiming that 64 cores will not be the limit in the upcoming Zen 4 and Zen 5 architectures does not necessarily mean that AMD intends to bring such large numbers of cores within the reach of the average consumer, and in fact it is most likely precisely in the enthusiast series , within the reach only of lucky pockets, where we will see the number of cores grow above 64.
Of course, there is also the possibility that we begin to see processors with 10 or more physical cores and within the reach of the average consumer. When it comes to AMD, it would not really be surprising, but what seems clear is that we are far from having those 64 or more core processors within our reach.