It’s hard to believe that AMD released its very first Ryzen CPUs as recently as 2017. They were based on a new Zen architecture, built from the ground up in the five years prior to release. Looking back, this was a defining moment for AMD, and the future of laptop and desktop chips more widely.
Since then, we’ve seen five more generations of Ryzen chips and three subsequent Zen architectures. The latest of these is the Ryzen 6000 Series, which uses a tweaked version of the existing architecture known as Zen 3+, but includes no desktop CPUs.
Both are expected in the Ryzen 7000 Series, which is were the Zen 4 architecture looks set to make its debut. Here’s everything you need to know.
AMD Zen 4 release date
At the Zen 3 reveal in October 2020, AMD Chief Technology Officer Mark Papermaster confirmed that Zen 4 was “on track, in design”. His presentation was accompanied by the following timeline:
Our next official update came in July 2021, when AMD CEO Lisa Su confirmed that Zen 4 was on track to launch the following. At CES in January 2022, the company was a little more specific – the second half of 2022 was the target.
That looks set to be met with time to spare. As Wccftech reports, AMD has confirmed it’ll be holding a keynote at the event, just after it finishes on 29 August. That’s where the Ryzen 7000 Series is expected to debut, with all signs pointing to it using the Zen 4 architecture.
Those first few CPUs are expected to be reserved for high-end desktops, with the same Wccftech article hinting at a 15 September release date. But there’ll supposedly be only five desktop processors in that initial release, with more expected in 2023. That’s also when we’re expecting Zen 4-based laptop CPUs, as AMD’s earlier official roadmap shows:
AMD Zen 4 devices
Of course, Zen 4’s official release date is expected to coincide with the first CPUs that will take advantage of it. As AMD itself has confirmed, these will be the Ryzen 7000 Series.
PC users regularly turn to AMD chips to update their existing machines, with the main limitation being a compatible motherboard. Moving to the new 5nm process, as indicated in the official screenshot above, will likely mean motherboards using the existing AM4 socket wouldn’t be supported. A new AM5 socket is expected, but that wouldn’t work with the AMD’s AMD’s current A520 and X570 motherboards.
That same Wccftech article reporting the initial launch and release dates has revealed the following specs for the initial Ryzen 7000 Series lineup:
The Zen 3-based Ryzen 5000 Series has a maximum of 16 cores, so this is a big upgrade. More cores doesn’t always yield performance gains though, so it remains to be seen how much of an impact this will have. The leaker in question does have history when it comes to component news, but there’s still no guarantee we’ll see a 24-core Zen 4 CPU.
Zen 4 will almost certainly make its way to laptop chips at some point, although we’ll probably be waiting until CES 2023 to see them. Even then, these processors are designed to be integrated into devices, so will be dependent on interest from laptop manufacturers (or OEMs, as they’re often known).
AMD Zen 4 spec news
Ahead of its expected release, we already have a few concrete rumours on what to expect from Zen 4.
As was first reported by Videocardz, the same official roadmap as above describes the architecture as “achieving the pinnacle of gaming performance”. It’ll include the ‘Raphael’ desktop chips, but also ‘Phoenix’ for thin and light gaming and a new ‘Dragon Range’ for ultra-powerful gaming laptops.
According to AMD, you can expect some big gains on CPUs that use Zen 4 architecture:
AMD has also confirmed that it will move to a 5nm process, down from 7nm you’ll find on Zen 3 and 6nm on Zen 3+. This could be a significant move, with the ability to provide the same amount of power within a smaller footprint.
Indeed, a WikiChip article from March 2020 suggests the move to 5nm could enable TSMC to provide a density improvement of as much as 87% when compared the 7nm process. TSMC directly works with AMD to produce Ryzen CPUs, so these sorts of gains could make their way into Zen 4-based chips. Transistor density is vital to the performance of a processor, so this could lead to huge gains in performance.
A subsequent post on tech blog Chips and Cheese suggests this could be as much as 40%, while IPC (instructions per clock) could increase by 25%. The article goes on to say that early samples of AMD’s less EPYC processors show a 29% speed improvement over the current generation, despite having the same number of cores and clocks.
AMD has since confirmed a rumour reported by Wccftech – the new AM5 socket will make its debut on Zen 4. The platform will require a new architecture, so this makes sense. Prolific Twitter leaker @ExecuFix has revealed some of AM5’s key specs:
AM5 😏 – LGA-1718 – Dual-channel DDR5 – PCI-e 4.0 – 600 series chipset— ExecutableFix (@ExecuFix) May 22, 2021
Subsequent tweets suggest that the existing 40×40 mm CPU socket will remain, but that PCIe 5.0 will be reserved for enterprise-level chips. However, at CES 2022, AMD suggested that PCIe 5.0 will be coming to all Zen 4 CPUs, alongside DDR5 RAM.
The above video consolidates some information that’s already been revealed, suggesting Zen 4 chips will use a 5nm process designed by TSMC. DDR5 RAM support is expected, as well as increasing PCIe 4.0 lanes from 24 to 28.
Key new information includes Zen 4 chips improving IPC (instructions per clock) by around 25% over Zen 3. The architecture will potentially support a 24-core CPU at some point, but it’s not expected to be among the first wave of processors that launch.
However, we may see new high-end processors with more cores – ‘Genoa 7004’ CPUs have been detailed in a leaked roadmap unearthed by Videocardz. This will supposedly feature come with more than 64 cores and is expected to launch in 2022, before ‘3004’ chips with 32/64 cores debut in Q1 2023.
That was expected to be the top-spec Zen 4 chip you could buy, but a subsequent suggests it will be able to support many more than that. Prolific CPU leaker @Broly_X1 (whose account has since been deleted) appeared to confirm a 128-core CPU in June 2021, saying: “Wow, ZEN4 is really more than 96 cores. I was skeptical when I first saw this news in Chiphell. Now I can also confirm that ZEN4 is up to 128 cores”.
If true, this will mean Zen 4 supports twice as many cores as the current Zen 3. It’s also expected to double the maximum thread count (256 vs 128). This has the potential to deliver huge performance gains for Zen 4-based CPUs.
We’ll update this article as soon as we know more about Zen 4, but . There’s already news on its successor, too – check out our guide to the Zen 5 architecture. You may also be interested in learning more about the current Zen 3+ based Ryzen 6000 series CPUs, designed to be integrated into many of the best laptops and other mobile PCs of 2022.
Our Ryzen 7000 Series article runs through everything you need to know about the new CPUs.