Is it true that the upcoming AMD Ryzen 4000 (Zen 3) desktop processors will be fabricated on the 5nm TSMC process, instead of 7nm as announced? Let’s find out!
AMD Ryzen 4000 : Zen 2 | Zen 3
AMD is expected to introduce the Ryzen 4000 family of desktop processors, built on a newer Zen 3 microarchitecture, later this year.
AMD’s naming convention confuses people, because the Ryzen 4000 mobile processors are 3rd Gen Ryzen processors, while the upcoming Ryzen 4000 desktop processors will be 4th Gen Ryzen processors.
To make it easier for you to understand, we created this table to differentiate the two processor families.
|Ryzen Generation||4th Gen||3rd Gen|
|Microarchitecture||Zen 3||Zen 2|
|Fabrication Process||Improved 7 nm||7 nm|
|Launch Date||Late 2020||Jan 2020|
DigiTimes : AMD Ryzen 4000 Will Use 5nm TSMC Process
A DigiTimes article, purportedly translated and posted by RetiredEngineer, claimed that the next-generation AMD Ryzen 4000 desktop processors, using the Zen 3 microarchitecture, will be fabricated on the brand-new 5nm process technology, instead of 7nm as announced earlier.
Now, we have not directly seen the DigiTimes article, so we cannot vouch for its authenticity. We only have this picture to go by :
5 Reasons Why AMD Ryzen 4000 Will NOT Use 5nm TSMC Process
We have no idea whether the DigiTimes article exists, or was translated accurately, but we seriously doubt it will happen. Here’s why…
Reason #1 : AMD Unlikely To Delay Ryzen 4000 Desktop Launch To 2021
AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su confirmed at CES 2020 that Zen 3 will debut in 2020, most likely around October to make it in time for the year-end holiday season.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the consumer launch of the Ryzen 4000 mobile processors, it is unlikely to delay the launch of the Ryzen 4000 desktop processors until early 2021.
Reason #2 : Desktop Ryzen Processors Don’t “Need” 5nm
While shrinking die size is generally a good thing, desktop processors like the upcoming 4th Gen Ryzen 4000 CPUs do not “need” a die shrink.
The focus will be on achieving high clock speeds at lower costs. That’s why the 3rd Gen Ryzen 3000 desktop processors use a chiplet design – the CPU dies are fabricated on 7nm, while the I/O die is fabricated on 12nm.
A matured and improved 7nm process would allow the 4th Gen Ryzen 4000 processors to deliver higher clock speeds at a much lower cost than a new 5nm process.
Reason #3 : Mobile Ryzen Processors Will Likely Be First To Use 5nm
AMD is strongest in the desktop and HEDT segment, outperforming Intel by sheer brute force, thanks to the higher number of cores in their desktop Ryzen and Threadripper processors.
They are weakest in the mobile market, with Intel mobile processors still controlling the vast majority of the market.
To seriously take on Intel in this critical segment, AMD would probably leverage the costly 5nm process to give their future Ryzen 5000 mobile processors a significant advantage in both performance and power consumption.
Reason #4 : 5nm Not That Advantageous Over Improved 7nm
While a 5nm transistor node sounds like it will offer 28.5% smaller transistors than a 7nm node, the difference in reality is much smaller.
That’s partly because the transistor sizes – 7nm, 5nm – are really marketing terms, not precise engineering definitions – and partly because of diminishing returns.
In any case, the TSMC 5nm process promises to offer 25% better performance over 7nm, but their improved 7nm process will offer at least 10% better performance over 7nm.
In other words, the net performance difference between the TSMC 5nm and improved TSMC 7nm (N7+) is just 13.6%. The cost of 5nm would, no doubt, be far more than improved 7nm.
Reason #5 : 5nm Yields Are Still Poor
Another thing to consider with a new transistor node is yield. This is the problem Intel had with their 10nm process technology – poor yield.
As of December 2019, the 5nm TSMC process has an average yield per wafer of ~80% with a tiny die size of 17.92 mm2. That yield goes down to an abysmal 32% with a 100 mm2 die size.
While no one knows how big the Zen 3 die will be, it is safe to say it will be closer to 100 mm2. The Zen 2 die, for example, is 74 mm2 in size.
Will AMD risk the success of their 4th Gen Ryzen 4000 desktop processors on TSMC hitting reasonable yields on 5 nm? We think not!
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