AMD is promising to ship a 5nm node with its upcoming chips that’s “extremely optimized for prime efficiency computing.” A GPU or CPU’s course of expertise is likely one of the key features of its design, however smaller isn’t routinely higher. Which is why AMD is not simply leaping straight to an absolute bleeding edge 3nm or 4nm course of; as a result of one nanometre is not essentially the identical as one other.
Once we overview a brand new CPU or GPU technology, we at all times discuss just a little about course of expertise. Corporations have a endless want to maneuver to ever smaller nodes. There are just a few key causes for this. An in any other case like-for-like chip on a smaller node will sometimes ship higher energy effectivity, and subsequently output much less warmth. The opposite key purpose is that smaller transistors and smaller dies imply that extra chips might be squeezed out of a conventional 300mm wafer. Extra dies per wafer means extra remaining product to promote, and ever increased income.
After all, it is not at all times that easy. Energy effectivity good points are sometimes used up within the quest for increased efficiency and typically this implies a chip on a smaller node can find yourself requiring extra energy and working hotter than its predecessor. Additionally, one firm’s node just isn’t at all times immediately comparable to a different’s. Generally, a bleeding edge node merely can’t compete with a mature one. Intel’s lengthy gestating 10nm course of is an efficient instance of 1 that struggled to make an area for itself.
Presently, the 5nm node is essentially the most superior course of in widespread use. Many cellular processors are constructed with a 5nm course of. Apple is the plain firm to reference. In late 2020 Apple launched its first 5nm merchandise, led by the A14 SoC powered iPhone 12 vary.
The M1 CPU adopted, which is discovered contained in the iPad Professional and numerous Macintosh laptop computer fashions. These chips are optimized for low energy use instances and battery life on the expense of all out efficiency, although they’re removed from being gradual. In these conditions, the drawbacks of adopting a bleeding edge course of expertise aren’t obvious. A processor that consumes 15W just isn’t the identical as one which makes use of 125W, or much more.
Shifting ahead and TSMC is already prototyping 3nm products, with mass manufacturing anticipated later in 2022. Additionally coming in late 2022 is AMD’s Zen 4 processors, however they are going to be constructed utilizing the 5nm node.
Why not 3nm? AMD CEO Lisa Su spoke with Ian Cutress from Anandtech about this very factor, and mentioned: “Expertise roadmaps are all about making the appropriate selections and the appropriate junctures” and “our 5nm expertise is extremely optimized for high-performance computing— it’s not essentially the identical as another 5nm applied sciences on the market.”
So, whereas AMD may look like a node ‘behind’ the bleeding edge, what’s extra vital is that its 5nm course of selections are greatest tailor-made to go well with its personal merchandise. Zen 4 must be tuned for desktop, enterprise, and cellular purposes that cowl TDPs in all places from sub 10W to 400W or extra for its excessive core depend Epyc fashions.
The identical might be mentioned of Intel and its 12th Gen CPUs. Intel calls its 10nm node ‘Intel 7’—which is clearly a advertising and marketing tactic—although its transistor density is reportedly nearly as good as that of competing smaller 7nm nodes.
However that apart, take a look at what Intel is ready to obtain regardless of its obvious course of drawback: Its Core i9 12900KS can attain 5.5 GHz out of the field. That’s a slightly beautiful achievement. Okay, it takes quite a lot of energy to get there however nonetheless, 5.5 GHz!
What does all this imply for avid gamers? The important thing takeaway is to not focus an excessive amount of on what product is utilizing what course of node. Core structure issues as does the remainder of the product or system in query. When contemplating your subsequent part buy, take a look at the outright efficiency, but in addition energy consumption, cooling necessities, and efficiency per watt. Oh, and there is the little issue of worth. These uncooked course of node numbers are simply part of a a lot greater image, and customarily simply pure advertising and marketing, too.