Zen 5 in 2023 (speculation)? and Hybrid APUs coming soon?

GIGABYTE made the revelation in a press release on the subject of AMD Ryzen-powered servers, but as ever with leaks like this, we must be skeptical.

On the face of it, though, the press release couldn’t sound any surer that Zen 5 chips are due later in 2023, arriving on the AM5 chipset (the one used by current Zen 4, or Ryzen 7000, products).

GIGABYTE writes:

“The next generation of AMD Ryzen desktop processors that will come out later this year will also be supported on this AM5 platform, so customers who purchase these servers today can upgrade to the Ryzen 7000 series successor.”

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We already knew that Zen 5 - presumably the Ryzen 8000 range - would stay on the same platform as Zen 4, of course, meaning consumers (and businesses) can simply upgrade PCs by dropping one of the next-gen CPUs into the same motherboard.

Previously, though, we believed that Zen 5 processors weren’t due until 2024, and that’s not chatter from the grapevine, but the last timeframe mentioned on AMD’s CPU roadmaps.

So it seems that Lisa Su and company are stepping up a gear, and pushing to have Zen 5 released before 2024 rolls around. Either that, or GIGABYTE has got crossed wires when communicating with AMD about the delivery schedule for Zen 5 silicon, or a mistake has been made somehow.

At the time of writing, though, the press release is still visible online and has yet to be changed, which at least suggests that GIGABYTE believes it is accurate.

We remain unconvinced, then. A further possibility could be that GIGABYTE is referring to a refresh here, a Zen 4+ launch, perhaps?

If AMD really does have Zen 5 ready to roll before the year is out, that could be quite a blow to Intel. While Team Blue has been faring well in the war of the CPUs since introducing its hybrid architecture (a mix of performance and efficiency cores) with Alder Lake, all that’s due this year is a Raptor Lake refresh.

At least a simple refresh of Raptor Lake is one theory that seems to have overtaken the other rumor of a Meteor Lake launch for desktop CPUs in 2023, but without high-end (Core i9) models.

Ultimately, there seems to be an unusual amount of confusion regarding what Intel’s planning for its next iteration of Core CPUs, and we don’t take that as a good sign. At any rate, whichever way you dice it, the rumors don’t sound all that promising: either somewhat hamstrung Meteor Lake desktop offerings, or a plain old Raptor Lake refresh.

The danger for Intel is that this is rather leaving the door open for an AMD comeback, if Team Red can bring the big Zen 5 guns to bear against that kind of opposition later this year.

Zen4+4c core APUs?

An unannounced AMD processor identified as Family 25 Model 120 Stepping 0 recently showed up in the MilkyWay@Home database. The CPU can process 12 threads simultaneously and the CPU expert @InstLatX64 believes that this is AMD’s codenamed Phoenix 2 processor, packing two high-performance Zen 4 cores and four energy-efficient Zen 4c cores.

AMD Eng Sample processor marked 100-000000931-21_N [Family 25 Model 120 Stepping 0] features 12 logical cores (i.e., six physical cores with simultaneous multithreading) and reports about 1MB of cache, which indicates that the MilkyWay@Home client cannot correctly determine the amount of cache featured by the chip. The listing itself does not prove that we are dealing with AMD’s hybrid Phoenix 2 processor with Big.Little-like core configuration, but six physical/12 logical cores featured by an unknown CPU gives us a hint that this may match the rumors.

AMD’s Phoenix 2 processor (which does not have a lot in common with the company’s Phoenix APU) is rumored to feature two ‘big’ Zen 4 cores with 2MB L2 and 4MB L3 cache as well as four ‘small’ Zen 4c cores equipped with 4MB L2 and 4MB L3 cache, which is a rather surprising cache configuration. The APU is also said to pack an RDNA 3-based integrated GPU with 512 stream processors and has a DDR5/LPDDR5X-supporting memory subsystem, according to 3DCenter. @InstLatX64 claims that AMD’s Phoenix 2 APU has an A70F8x CPUID, whereas CoelacanthDream asserts that the CPUID of the processor is 0x00a70f80.

For now, any information about Phoenix 2 in general and the 100-000000931-21_N [Family 25 Model 120 Stepping 0]processor in particular should be taken with a grain of salt since AMD has loads of products in the pipeline.

The alleged Phoenix 2 processor with two Zen 4 cores and four Zen 4c cores has been running MilkyWay@Home client since early March, which indicates that someone within AMD or even outside of the company is test driving the chip. This may be a sign that the CPU will be released in the foreseeable future, though it is unclear when exactly. Meanwhile, based on unofficial information, AMD is set to release its Phoenix 2 APUs in the second half of 2023.