AMD’s 2020 Ryzen CPUs could have a big boost in power efficiency

AMD CEO Lisa Ku
AMD

With all eyes on AMD’s upcoming Ryzen 3000 CPUs built upon the Zen 2 architecture, it’s a little difficult to get excited about the chip line that comes after that one. But new details of AMD’s Zen 3 platform, which would likely form the basis of Ryzen 4000 CPUs, could see them enjoy a large boost in power efficiency, as well as a sizeable uptick in performance.

AMD employed a somewhat classic “tick-tock” design for its Ryzen CPUs so far. The first generation saw the introduction of the new architecture. Built on a 14nm process, it made huge gains in general performance over AMD’s previous designs and gave Intel its first real competition at the top end in years. The second-generation Ryzen 2000 series CPUs were built upon the 12nm Zen Plus architecture and saw modest gains in clock speed and efficiency. Zen 2-based Ryzen 3000 CPUs will likely enjoy greater performance gains (though not to the same extent as the original Zen architecture) with its 7nm process.

Its successor, Zen 3, will be closer to the second-generational Ryzen improvements, but early reports on it suggest it might be more impactful than some small improvements to clock speed. Zen 3 will be built on TSMC’s 7nm Plus node which leverages extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV), a new process for manufacturing chips that could see some impressive gains without shrinking the process. The 7nm Plus node will still be 7nm, but it will allow for an increase in transistor density of up to 20% according to PCGamesN. It will also result in a power consumption reduction of as much as 10%.

This should mean that AMD is able to offer a slightly greater performance and efficiency improvement with Zen 3 over Zen 2 than it did with Zen Plus over Zen. While we would like to say that such chips will be great for mobile devices, AMD has typically used last-generation parts for its mobile CPUs and APUs. That means that even if we see some notable efficiency improvements in desktop Zen 3 Ryzen 4000 CPUs in 2020, we may have to wait until 2021 with whatever comes next to see mobile chips that can take advantage of Zen 3 enhancements.

In the meantime, we have Ryzen 3000 CPUs to get excited for. The mobile versions (based on last-generation Zen Plus cores) have already started to show up in some laptops and the desktop variants are only a few months or weeks away from release this summer.

If you need a new chip right now though, there are some great deals on Ryzen 1000 and 2000 CPUs.

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