Jim Keller, the legendary CPU Architect was hired by AMD once again to save to company from apocalypse. To do this, Mr Keller followed the teaching of Zen. He went meditated for quite sometime to reach enlightenment. Therefore, the new CPU architecture was born!
In picture : Ryoanji, a famous tourist spot of Zen Garden in Kyoto, Japan.
Okay enough with the bullshit introduction. I made that up of course. Now to the point, a recent demo from AMD shows that Summit Ridge in San Fransisco shows that Zen performance result is quite promising. Zen is capable to provide decent result for 4K gaming when paired with AMD Radeon Fury X. They even compare Summit Ridge directly to Intel Core i7-6900K Broadwell-E with similar specs but not identical. The two CPUs have 8 cores and 16 threads. Both are clocked at 3 GHz to make Apple-to-Apple comparison.
The demo is presented by Dr Lisa Su, CEO and President of AMD and Mark Papermaster, SVP and Chief Technology Officer of AMD. The game in the demo is Deus Ex : Mankind Divided. They showed that the combination of Summit Ridge and Radeon Fury X able to provide decent 4K gaming experience. No FPS were shown but judging from how game run, the framerate is quite smooth and very acceptable. In comparison against Intel Broadwell-E, AMD choose Blender as the benchmark. Summit Ridge is just a hair faster. Blender is chosen for a reason and I think it represent the best scenario for Summit Ridge. So, I am not going to say that Summit Ridge is better than Broadwell-E. But at least this it can compete against Broadwell-E. Please note that Broadwell-E is still slower than Skylake (let alone Kaby Lake) in terms of IPC (or Clock to Clock).
Fortunately, AMD make this short video of their presentation in Youtube :
So, what does this means? In my short and not deep analysis, AMD might bring the competition from Phenom II X4 vs Core 2 Quad back. It would be more exciting if AMD can bring back its leadership from Athlon vs Pentium era before Core 2 arrived to save Intel. But for now, in AMD a situation controlled by AMD, Summit Ridge can perform roughly as fast as Intel Broadwell-E, Clock-to-Clock, Core-to-Core. Considering the price of Core i7-6900K at roughly $1,100, AMD could stole the enthusiasts heart if it priced Summit Ridge with similar performance at $500 and below. But of course, AMD will need to handle to lower-end market as well. This is where Bristol Ridge will take part. Yes Bristol Ridge is still a 28nm APU. It also incorporate Excavator Core instead of Zen. But for lower-end users, it doesn’t matter because Bristol Ridge will provide enough or even more than enough performance.
What is the more exciting part? It’s not Summit Ridge but Raven Ridge that will be released in 2017. Raven Ridge is the Quad Core APU version of Zen paired with 12 Radeon Compute Unit. Just 2 Compute Units less than Radeon RX 460 with Polaris 11 GPU. This means we might get Core i5 performance with a (not so) powerful built in GPU. This should be a great for casual gamer who don’t want to spend more money (and waste electricity) for discreet GPU. For small system builder and AIO PC, this is also a win because they can build a small computer that packs a serious performance.
Bristol Ridge have been rolled out for notebooks but the desktop part is still not arrived. It still take months for consumer to taste the sweet looking performance of Summit Ridge. And Raven Ridge probably will be available in about one year. These are future products and I have no better information about their availability for consumer. Let’s just hope AMD will be on it’s track, face no delay, and able to deliver what they have promised.