AMD’s Zen 2 could make an appearance at the Next Horizon event tomorrow

AMD’s Next Horizon event is happening tomorrow, but what can we expect AMD to announce? During the AMD ‘New Horizon’ event in 2016 AMD finally let loose performance figures for its soon-to-be-called Ryzen processors, kickstarting its most recent rise to competitiveness, but tomorrow’s event may not hold quite so much promise.

AMD’s investor relations page simply states the name and date: AMD Next Horizon, and November 6, 2018. The red team is approaching a jam-packed year, meaning the event has a rather wide potential remit. Not only is Zen 2 set to launch, there are brand new datacentre chips, AMD Navi graphics cards, and developments in the competitive mobile space expected from team red in the new year.

At least we can be sure that 7nm datacentre processors will be discussed at the event – potentially encompassing full details on AMD’s EPYC ‘Rome’ chips. During its Q3 earnings call a few weeks ago, Lisa Su confirmed that the event will “discuss innovation of AMD products and technologies specifically designed for the datacentre on industry-leading 7nm process technology.”

That doesn’t rule out a wider discussion on AMD’s 7nm lineup, including Zen 2, but it might be enough to curtail gamers’ excitement ahead of the Next Horizon event. AMD has been getting into the habit of streaming most of its major announcements that will impact the gaming sphere, and  its marketing team have been noticeable quiet this time around.

AMD CPU architecture roadmap

For that very reason, it seems unlikely that the RX 590 will be mentioned at the event. Ostensibly a 12nm refresh of the RX 580, this card looks to offer roughly 10-15% improvement on the Polaris flagship’s performance in leaked benchmarks. However, AMD will likely make a very big fuss about this card once it’s prepared to dish out the details.

Datacentre and machine learning applications have been leading the charge for AMD’s next process node change, and could well solely take centre stage at the event. AMD has been making big waves in the datacentre world with its EPYC processors, seemingly helped along by Intel’s shortages, and also is making a concerted push into machine learning with its Vega Instinct graphics card, built on the 7nm Vega 20 GPU.

AMD is shifting almost the entirety of its production to the 7nm process node in the near-future, starting with the Vega 20 GPU. The move is propelled by advances AMD’s foundry partner TSMC has made with squeezing even more transistors into teeny tiny chips, lending to an increase in efficiency and performance.

But while datacentre may take the limelight, it seems only fitting that AMD will discuss something to do with its upcoming CPU architecture at the Next Horizons event – even if only in passing.

The specs and performance of AMD’s Zen 2 microarchitecture have been kept away from prying eyes for the most part, with only a few glimpses of what’s to come in the public eye. Aside from the expected improvements brought on by the 7nm node, AMD has promised to continue support for the current AM4 socket until 2020, ostensibly confirming backwards compatibility across at least two generations of Zen architectures.

AMD’s next-gen chips will be continuing the fight against Intel’s 9th Gen Core processors, including the i9 9900K and i7 9700K. They will likely be first to take on any chips Intel can salvage from its heavily delayed 10nm process node, too. AMD will be hoping the performance/efficiency gains of the 7nm node will be able to give it the edge over Chipzilla going into 2020 and beyond.

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