The details of the TSMC 5nm process were released last month, which give us an insight into what we can expect from AMD’s 5th-gen Ryzen. Of course, that’s a little ways away but the information we’ve got is interesting showing the future Ryzen 5000 series could feature a major density uplift with TSMC’s 5nm node compared to the upcoming 7nm Ryzen 3000 CPUs.
We know that AMD’s Ryzen 3000 series chips are based on their second-generation Zen architecture. Zen 2 is made from TSMC’s 7nm process, which is achieved by using deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography.
We also know that Zen 3 for the 4th-gen Ryzen is based on 7nm+, which likely refers to TSMC’s 7nm+ made from their extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography process. Only a few mask layers of EUV are used to gain a 20% density increase over their current 7nm technology.
With that said, we don’t definitively know what the 5th-gen Ryzen is bringing to the table, but we do know that engineers are already hard at work on Zen 5 or 6th-gen Ryzen. Which indicates that 5th-gen Ryzen must be currently out or about to be released, and the likely candidates for it are TSMC’s 5nm or 6nm process.
Well the 6nm process actually isn’t that great and that it only gives an 18% density increase over their 7nm DUV process. That is because it’s more designed to make transitioning from 7nm DUV easier.
In other words, AMD may end up using that instead of 7nm+ for their 4th-gen Ryzen chips. That’d be surprising though since they already announced it on 7nm+.
For the Ryzen 5000 series chips, the most obvious candidate is TSMC’s 5nm, also dubbed as N5. This process node promises to offer 80% increase in logic density and a 15% performance boost when compared to what’s on their 3rd-gen Ryzen 7nm process.
“N5 has entered risk production in the first quarter, and we expect customer tape-outs starting this quarter and volume production ramp in the first half of 2020,” said TSMC CEO, C. C. Wei, during the company’s Q1 earnings call (PDF).
“With 1.8X logic density and 15% speed gain and an ARM A72 core compared with 7-nanometer, we believe our N5 technology is the most competitive in the industry.”
Now these numbers come from a 5nm ARM chip, but I doubt Ryzen will be too different. TSMC is expecting most of their customers who are currently using 7nm process will move to 5nm. Eventually.
Basically, AMD is in great place right now when it comes to their CPU’s. The company is already on 7nm, and they are now aiming for 5nm with their 5th-gen Ryzen chips by 2021.
Intel, on the other hand, struggles to bring their 10nm tech to desktop. For all we know they are planning to release yet another refresh of their 14nm Coffee Lake architecture.