Expectations with AMD’s 7 nm Zen 2 architecture

This year is one of transition for Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) as it launches a complete suite of its next-generation Ryzen PC and EPYC server CPUs (central processing unit) and Navi consumer GPUs (graphics processing unit) built on TSMC’s 7 nm (nanometer) node. AMD’s Ryzen portfolio comprises the Ryzen 7, 3, and 5 series for desktops, the Ryzen Threadripper for high-end desktops, the Ryzen Mobile 7, 3, and 5 for laptops, and the Ryzen Pro for commercial laptops and desktops.

AMD is set to launch its third-generation Ryzen 3000 series in mid-2019 and early 2020. AMD’s investor presentation, which it updated in May 2019, lists the Ryzen products it will launch in 2019. The list includes the second-generation Ryzen Mobile APU (application processing unit), the Athlon Mobile and Mobile Pro APUs, and the third-generation Ryzen desktop CPU.

Will AMD Launch Its 7 nm Ryzen Threadripper in 2019?

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Speculation from The Inquirer noted that the slide didn’t include the third-generation Ryzen Threadripper CPU in its 2019 road map.

Why AMD excluded the Ryzen Threadripper

The third-generation Ryzen series is based on the company’s 7 nm Zen 2 architecture. The Inquirer reported speculation that AMD may not launch its third-generation Threadripper in 2019 because the Zen 2 architecture may not yet be ready to deliver a high-end performance. But AMD is building an EPYC server CPU dubbed “Rome” on its Zen 2 architecture, and Threadripper is just one notch below EPYC, so this speculation is likely false.

The most probable reason could be a limited supply of 7 nm processors at TSMC, as the foundry will build Apple’s A-series processors in addition to AMD’s other 7 nm CPUs and GPUs in the third quarter. AMD could consider launching the Threadripper next year on the 7 nm+ node.

Intel accelerates its node transition

While AMD is rigorously implementing its product road map, Intel is accelerating its efforts to launch its first 10 nm mobile CPUs later in 2019 and its 10 nm server CPUs in early 2020. Intel is looking to compensate for the 10 nm delays and gain back its technology lead. At its 2019 Investor Meeting, Intel stated that it would launch its 7 nm products in 2021. Intel’s 7 nm node will compete with TSMC’s 5 nm node.

Intel’s acceleration of the manufacturing of its nodes will likely negatively affect its gross margin from 2019 to 2021 but could help it gain back its lead in the market.

In the meantime, AMD will benefit from its technology advantage in the PC and server CPU markets.

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