AMD To Take On Intel With Its Zen Chips

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Either Intel or AMD chips are preferred by PC enthusiasts, but this may change going forward. AMD says its upcoming Zen chips will have even more appeal than Intel’s chips. The Zen chips are based on a new architecture built from scratch, and AMD is betting its future on it. AMD claims the inefficiencies that hurt its old chips, which performed poorly and affected its reputation in the chip world, are wiped by Zen.

Catching up on Intel

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, AMD Chief Technology Officer Mark Papermaster said AMD is now catching up with Intel on processor technology and manufacturing process. He added that the Zen chips offer CPU performance improvements, measured as instructions per clock, of 40%, a great jump by any standard. AMD will ship the first Zen chips for gaming desktops at the end of the year, and they will go to servers and laptops in 2017 and then embedded devices after that.

AMD’s Zen chips will be based on FinFET technology which stacks transistors on top of each other, an improvement over placing them next to each other. This improves its performance and power efficiency.

Is AMD a threat?

As the Zen chips will be made using the 14-nanometer process, AMD will be on par with Intel on manufacturing technology, said Papermaster. But this parity will be for a short while, as in the second half of 2017, Intel will be launching its chips code-named Cannonlake based on the 10-nm process.

AMD’s advantage will be graphics, which can be combined with Zen CPUs for fast-growing markets like gaming and virtual reality. Intel doesn’t have a GPU like AMD’s Radeon graphics core. Intel has some trump cards of its own though. The chip maker will release products based on 3D Xpoint, a fast form of memory and storage, says a report from Computer World.

AMD was considered a threat to Intel in the early 2000s. The best example is of Athlon 64, the first 64-bit chip for PCs, which caused Intel to rush to release its first 64-bit chip. But thereafter, AMD made some mistakes, like Phenom in 2007 and Fusion, the first chip to integrate a CPU and GPU, and this led to its downfall. Bulldozer, AMD’s chip architecture, and its subsequent derivatives were also criticized for bad performance.

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