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AMD’s Zen chipset reportedly faces a costly design hurdle

Recent whispers suggest that AMD is experiencing some problems with the chipset design for its Zen processors. Given that the company plans to debut its first Zen-based CPUs this year, this is not the sort of development that contributes to a smooth product launch.

AMD outsourced research and development of the chipsets to Taiwanese firm ASMedia. Apparently, the design submitted by the company has led to some undesirable issues pertaining to USB 3.1, according to a report from Digitimes.

Transmission speeds across a USB 3.1 connection are said to drop dramatically as the circuit distance increases. It seems that extra components will be needed to rectify this situation; likely additional retimer and redriver chips, or even an independent USB 3.1 IC.

This means there will be extra costs during the manufacturing process, if these reports are accurate. However, it’s not entirely clear who will end up footing the bill.

The additional components required will likely equate to about $2 to $5 in added expenses, which quickly starts to add up when you consider the scale of production. The worry for AMD is that the extra costs would discourage manufacturers from utilizing Zen-based processors in their systems.

There are also rumors that AMD is mulling over whether to purchase retimers and redrivers from a third-party source. These parts could then be supplied with the processors, although it’s not clear whether the company would eat the cost as part of this strategy.

Despite all this talk of doom, both of the companies involved with the chipset are putting a brave face on the situation. A statement from AMD maintained that the company is “pleased that Zen is on track,” while a representative from ASMedia downplayed the rumors as speculative, and asserted that the product has already cleared certification.