AMD is still claiming a 40% improvement in instructions per clock for Zen, but now the company has actually demonstrated the previously announced 8-core, 16-thread Summit Ridge system — and is showing it outperforming an Intel Broadwell-E processor, at least in certain applications, at the same clock speed.
New Summit Ridge desktops will utilize AMD’s new AM4 socket, which will be compatible with the formerly named Bristol Ridge 7th generation A-Series CPUs. AM4 supports DDR4 memory; PCIe Gen 3 with dedicated lanes for graphics, USB, and other I/O; SATA Express; NVMe; and USB 3.1 Gen2 at 10Gbps. Summit Ridge looks like it won’t show up until the first quarter of 2017, which is a bit of a disappointment. And there’s also still no word on shipping clock speeds.
The key here isn’t whether AMD can suddenly catch up and pass Intel in one fell swoop, delivering today’s version of the 386-40 or the K6. Instead, at this point, it’s much more important Zen does well in a wide variety of applications, including low-power notebooks as well as desktops and servers, so that the company is well positioned for further growth and regaining lost market share. It looks like we’re beginning to see the foundation of that for Zen, but time will tell.