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Everything We Know About AMD’s Next-generation Zen 4 CPUs


AMD has stayed surprisingly silent over the months since Intel kicked off their 12th generation, letting loose a full series of beefy Intel consumer-grade CPUs. Little is known about the secretive Ryzen 7000 series of processors, AMD’s next CPU lineup, but a few morsels of information have been released so far that give us a general idea of what to expect from Zen 4, and boy are they juicy.

Let’s get right into them!

 

TL;DR:

  • Release date is not pinned down yet, but is currently slated for the second half of 2022.
  • Introduction of AM5 support, which brings DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 support to AMD processors.
  • 3D vertical caching allows for potentially enormous L3 caches.

Don’t know what some part of that means? Just want more details, and maybe some speculation? Keeping reading!


Everything We Know

Release Window

While we know the release window for the Zen 4 lineup is the second half of 2022, we don’t know anything more specific than that, like a release date. The Zen 4 platform of CPUs was scheduled to release in early 2021, but due to the massive supply shortages (that feel like they will never end), it got pushed back ~18 months to H2 2022. Considering Intel’s 12th generation processors released in November 2021, AMD is taking potentially over 12 months to release their competition to the Alder Lake lineup. That’s quite a significant amount of time in the quickly evolving realm of CPUs!

It shouldn’t be too long before AMD announces a more solid release date, especially considering “H2 2022” is less than 4 months away from now. We can most likely expect a release before the holiday season… but this is the facts section of the article, so get that speculation outta here!

AM5 = DDR5 + PCIe 5.0

AMD announced most of the info we currently know about Zen 4 processors at CES 2022 in January. There, they stated it would use a new AM5 motherboard socket, which will introduce support for both DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0 slots, bringing its compatibility in line with Intel’s 12th generation of processors. DDR5 RAM remains expensive for the time being, but hopefully we’ll see prices deflate throughout the year to make a Ryzen 7000 build a little easier on the wallet.

AM5 will also introduce a switch to LGA for the contacts, meaning the back of the processor is flat and covered with contacts rather than pins. When pins are on the board instead of the processor, it typically allows them to be stronger and less prone to damage from bending. As for the update to PCIe 5.0, truthfully most graphics cards don’t even reach the maximum bandwidth of PCIe 4.0 or even PCIe 3.0, so PCIe 5.0 isn’t going to revolutionize… anything, really. But the other perks of the new AM5 boards should be well worth it.

Interestingly, the AM5 socket retains the same form factor for cooling devices as the AM4 socket, allowing you to keep using your previous CPU cooler if you have one of AMD’s Zen 3 processors. Pretty convenient! Well, unless you’re coming from an Intel board, of course. But Intel users are probably used to socket compatibility woes for upgrades anyway.
 

Three-Dimensional Caching (On Higher-end Chips)

What even is a cache in a processor? We’ve touched on this before, but to put it simply, the “cache” is to the CPU as the RAM is to the rest of your computer; it works at a very high speed, and stores short-term information that the processor needs to function optimally. There are three different common forms of processor caches: L1, which is fast and has a low capacity; L2, which is moderate in both speed and capacity; and L3, which is the largest and slowest. L3 tends to have a fairly large impact on gaming, with most modern processors having anywhere from 12 to 64 megabytes of L3 cache.

Due to some new hardware technology that AMD is currently working on, at least part of the Zen 4 series will likely support what AMD calls “3D vertical cache”. Essentially, this allows “stacking” of L3 caches rather than placing them adjacently, creating potential for an enormous amount of memory and bandwidth. This is similar in some ways to the HBM tech that AMD introduced to graphics card memory a few years back. Depending on the size of each of the stacked caches, we could see up to 128 or even 192 megabytes of L3 cache storage!

The precise benefits that this new cache technology provides are yet to be seen, as it’s not currently used in any available AMD processors. However, AMD is planning to release the Ryzen 7 5800X 3D next month (as you could guess, it’s basically a Ryzen 7 5800X with this new cache technology incorporated), allowing us to break down exactly how it performs before Zen 4 hits scalper’s shopping carts later this year.
 

 


Everything We Expect

Specs and Performance

As you’d probably expect, the Ryzen 7000 series is intended to have the best performance of AMD’s consumer processors to date. Some rumors have been making the rounds that the Zen 4 CPUs can potentially have a base clock speed meeting or exceeding 5 GHz across all cores, something that would bump performance and make the marketing team’s job very easy.

The additional heat and power required for such a high base clock speed will be slightly mitigated by the new 5 nanometer lithography, which (as improvements to lithography have in the past) should reduce heat and improve power consumption.

Core Count

AMD has always pumped their processors full of cores, typically exceeding the core count of Intel processors by a fair margin. Since Intel really upped the core count in their entire lineup for the 12th generation, it’s quite likely AMD will do something similar.

We’d love to see a 24-core, 48-thread consumer processor come out of the Ryzen 7000 lineup. That would be double the core count of Intel’s i7-12700k! While some of these would most likely be lower-tuned performance cores, it would still introduce a significant leap in processing power for workstation jobs and multitasking. Plus, your computer would have 24 cores. Twenty-four! Everyone on the playground would think you’re the coolest kid in the world.


Conclusion

Even with the true capabilities of the Zen 4’s architecture a mystery, Intel is likely feeling a little nervous over AMD’s big launch later this year. With rumors of unparalleled power, brand new cache technology, and support for the latest interfaces—AMD have some big shoes to fill. Whether the chips live up to their hype remains to be seen, but AMD has been absolutely crushing it for the last decade, and we have cautious confidence that they will deliver yet again.

Consumers have big expectations for Zen 4; let’s just hope this chip crisis doesn’t end up nerfing this release into the ground! In the meantime, if you’re interested, you can find specific info about AMD’s currently available processors on their official site.

Have any questions about AMD’s new CPUs? Maybe you want to share your thoughts about their new cache technology? Maybe you just want to compliment my hair? Whatever you’re feeling, tell us in the comments below! Thanks for reading!


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