The biggest news from the annual Computex show came from AMD: The company is ready to launch its next-generation Zen 2 microarchitecture and updates its Ryzen and EPYC product lines. AMD goes all-in with its chip CPU architecture and new RDNA graphics architecture for the upcoming navi graphics product family. After AMD's keynote, we took part in a small round of journalists to ask questions to AMD's CEO, Dr. Ing. Lisa Su, to judge.
The most important announcement of the day was that the consumer processor line Ryzen is upgraded with higher core performance, 7nm chips, and up to twelve cores for less than half the price of Intel's twelve-core processor , AMD presented benchmarks that showed raw single-threaded performance parity at lower frequencies, and the company claims its CPUs can compete with Intel's performance at lower performance due to the technology and features of the on-chip process node. Introduced 7/7, these processors are the first consumer processors to offer PCIe 4.0 connectivity. Along with the CPU, AMD has also taken a step into the next range of Navi GPUs, declaring that the first products with the new RDNA architecture will target the performance of RTX 2070, with the RX 5700 family also available in July will be.
Dr. Su came across a number of topics: AMD's roadmaps, discussions about process technology, a series of topics that cover AMD's market strength, and the fight against established companies, and even some discussions about where AMD will lead in the future.
There was a round table Six representatives of the press, CEO Lisa Su, head of RTG David Wang, and senior AMD staff members are available to answer questions directly. As with our other roundtable transcriptions, the wording can be edited to improve readability and group questions by topic. Where possible and known, the questionnaire is noted.
This roundtable occurred before the E3 announcements, so some questions were removed when they were answered there during the AMD event.
All Ryzen, All CPU  Gordon Ung, PC World: As for the 16 cores, there is so much passion in the PC community and in the forums. Is the rumor about AMD products getting out of hand sometimes?
Lisa Su: Of course I would like to say that I read more than any of these guys thinks. We are very flattered that there are so many people wondering what we do, whether it's Ryzen or Navi, how we are at IPC, the core count, the frequency, the price. We have so much advice people give us. All I can say is that the community is very important to all of us. We believe we offer the community an exceptional range of products, and that's how we stand by it.
Mark Hachman, PC World: Thread Ripper Was Not Mentioned? Did you update the roadmap?
Lisa Su: You know what's interesting – some of these things being spread on the Internet. I do not think we ever said that Threadripper will not continue. It has a life of its own on the internet. You will see more threadrippers (plural) of us. You will definitely see more thread rippers from us. Look, we love the high-end desktop market. We see both the content creators and the workstation requirements, and Threadripper has done well. With Threadripper you will see more of us.
Tarinder Sandhu, Hexus: Assuming that there are more than 24 threads in the mainstream Ryzen (the 12-core thread), one can even argue that it is so on the thread breaker's toes to step?
Lisa Su: The thread breaker is still an important step up. You will see future generations of threadripper from us. When the mainstream gets moving, of course Threadripper has to get moving.
PCWorld: Intel made a big mistake last night in which we use artificial benchmarks, benchmarks that are not used by the real world, and they try to influence the community to get out of that model to remove. What do you think?
Lisa Su: We also believe that real applications are important, no doubt. But eventually you have to compare X with Y, and that's why we'll use benchmarks. You may have noticed that we switched from Cinebench R15 to R20. We did it on purpose, it's a harder test than R15. When we look at the gaming performance, we do our best to make a clear benchmark and all of our products are apples to apples. Benchmarks are important – they give you an overview of competitiveness. But at the end of the day, it's about the user at home, and we believe we give the user a wide choice, depending on your price points, your performance requirements, whether you want to use a water cooler, or an air cooler, I think we offer Give them a wide range on the processor market.
David McAfee, AMD: I'll fill that up a bit. You know that Cinebench R20 is based on the same engine used in Maxon Cinema 4D, a real-world application that provides a measure of processor performance. Our second demonstration was about Blender – a real application that people use every day. We've gone to great lengths to ensure that part of the work is based on actual experiences, not on synthetic workloads.
Robert Hallock, AMD: This theme is close and dear to my heart. It's my daily job to pick the benchmarks we use, and the last thing I want to do in my role at AMD is a set of benchmarks that mislead the public in some way. Because of this, I feel that we do not agree with what they want, and we're constantly looking at the set of benchmarks you use in the Reviewer community and users, the software used by companies, and us Try It In order to find the right balance, we are authentic and honest with what the product is. Doing everything else is just an injustice to both the community and the public.
Ray Tracing and GPU
Devinder Sharma, Engadget: I have a feeling that somebody needs to inquire about graphic details. I'm interested in what you do with raytracing – it seems to be the next big thing for the next generation of consoles. I know we've heard about it before. Can you confirm that with RDNA?
Lisa Su: There is much more RDNA content, both David (Wang) and Scott (Wasson). Some of you may come to our Tech Day at E3 in a few weeks and we will talk about it. We only had one hour today! I will not say more but we will give you more of our roadmap at E3.
Ian Cutress, AnandTech: Can you say that this is one given the fact that Ray Tracing was announced in the PS5 specifications? Specific Sony optimization or is that included in RDNA?
Lisa Su: We have certainly made very specific optimizations for Sony. You are a very familiar partner with us in the semi-custom area, and there are optimizations there. However, we consider ray tracing as a very important element in the entire portfolio. We will have raytracing in a number of places. Look at that, you made me say more about raytracing!
David Wang, AMD: We started RDNA before the Sony engagement. I think RDNA is revolutionary, and it's very flexible in terms of adapting to different types of workloads.
Hexus: You may have answered that question, but what do you think about raytracing in mainstream graphics? (to David)
David Wang: We will talk more about Raytracing on our Technology Day. What is your opinion, what is your opinion on the importance of ray tracing for consumer gaming? What are the success factors?
Hexus: I think it was shown a bit too early, and NVIDIA has a pretty decent market share, but they only have a few Triple A titles if it's relevant. I think we have to wait at least a year. It's nice to have the hardware buzzwords, but in terms of usable graphics, and especially in the mainstream, I think we're a bit removed.
Lisa Su: What you should expect, however, is Ray Tracing is an important technology that you will see in our portfolio. In particular, working with the ecosystem will ensure strong ecosystem support.
David Wang: The support of the ecosystem is very important!
Ian Cutress: How important is the atrium in the GPU market for AMD?
David Wang: Very, very important. I love being able to compete well with NVIDIA.
Nikkei: Because you work a lot with TSMC and TSMC is your very important ecosystem partner. Can you tell us how many 7nm products you build with TSMC, and will you manufacture 5nm products?
Lisa Su: We have made many, many 7nm products. I do not think we exactly said how many. Imagine that: server, PC, graphics and our custom products as we expand our product portfolio. We will deal aggressively with cutting-edge technology. I'm not saying which 5nm and when, but you'll see that we aggressively deal with the top.
Paul Alcorn, Tom's Hardware: Given that you are now sourcing 7nm exclusively from TSMC, rather than worrying about some redundancy and the growing popularity of Ryzen?
Lisa Su: We have a great relationship with TSMC and myself I would say that our ramp for 7nm was one of the smoothest ramps we've ever had for a range of different products. We have plenty of capacity.
Market Share and Market Tensions
Nikkei: I have a question about AMD's market share in PCs and GPUs, and your role in the data center. Do you have a goal in mind as you mentioned a two-digit percentage of your server over the next six quarters – can you work out something about those segments?
Lisa Su: ] We always strive to increase our market share. That's why we've released great products. Regarding our market share goals, it says for servers that we can reach double-digit market share of 4 to 6 quarters from the end of 2018. So that was the time, so to speak. When talking about graphics, the truth is that AMD graphics have been very strong in the past and are very strong today. We believe that the RDNA architecture will be even stronger in the future, so we are very excited about the opportunities to participate in graphics. In the PC market, if you look at AMD in the PC market in the past, we have a high teenage market share and a low double-digit share depending on the time of viewing. With Ryzen, we have gained market share in the past six quarters. We think Gen Ryzen will be very helpful to continue that. Nikkei: I think this time Computex is really the AMD show. But are you concerned about the prospects for the industry as a whole? But it is still a very exciting time, a dynamic time. In your opinion, how will this market affect the positive outlook and will the tensions between the US and China affect your customers?
Lisa Su: From the point of view of the products, this certainly does not change. From a product perspective, our roadmaps are designed for the next three to five years. From a business point of view, we remain very blessed and, of course, pay attention to some of the global issues. You know, all business leaders want it resolved as quickly as possible. From the point of view of the product roadmap, however, this has no effect.
Nikkei: Could you comment on the situation at Huawei?
Lisa Su: Huawei is a customer of ours and they have made some very nice PCs with our first generation Ryzen as well as our second generation Ryzen. Obviously, we are a US company and therefore comply with applicable US regulations. As I said earlier, we believe that certain things need to be resolved as quickly as possible. So I say that at the moment we are sticking to the US regulations, joint venture with THATIC are playing in that? (This question was asked before the 6/21 updates to the ordinance.)
Lisa Su: THATIC was founded a few years ago, and at that time we carried out the original technology transfer. We continue the joint venture, and most of the work is done on the joint venture side.
Paul Alcorn: Will this continue with future generations like Zen 2 and Zen 3?  Lisa Su: We are not discussing additional technology transfers.
Paul Alcorn: You do not discuss with them or you do not argue with us?  Lisa Su: The THCC joint venture was a technology license for one generation and there are no additional technology licenses.
Ian Cutress: license for a core or core x86?
Lisa Su: A single implementation.
Ian Cutress: So the RTL of the SoC?
Lisa Su: I do not think we ever said what they licensed. We said that you licensed an x86 CPU implementation.
Consoles and the Cloud
Q: Sony, Microsoft, and Google talk about cloud games, while AMD is so prevalent in consoles. How do you see console games in the future compared to cloud games?
Lisa Su: We believe that games are offered on all form factors, whether PCs, consoles or clouds. All of this requires great graphics skills as well as a number of other things. We are very proud to work with Google on their Stadia streaming platform. There are a number of other cloud efforts that AMD is instrumental in. In my opinion, they will all co-exist, so it's not as if someone is taking the lead. There are business models that depend on where you live, all that stuff. I think cloud gaming will be important and we will continue to invest in this technology. It's a strategy that includes both EPYC and Radeon.
Engadget: Do you have the feeling that many of the previews on the Playstation 5 gave you a lot of clues about what you are working on? One big thing for them is not loading levels. Is there anything that is provided by you that is also relevant to PC games, like PCIe 4.0?
Lisa Su: PCIe 4.0 definitely helps. In terms of things, they were very specific about their proprietary technologies.
CPU Research and Development
Ian Cutress: We have already seen of other companies in the industry that one of the keywords in the next few years AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Artificial Intelligence ). Machine learning) and when it comes to consumer computing and the activation of inference models. We have companies on the PC that allow inference models in their software to speed up the developers. However, AMD has not yet talked about any specific AI-specific silicon or related options in the consumer market. Can you talk about how AMD is approaching this issue, especially if many of your competitors are actively reaching users in this role?
Lisa Su: So we really believe in a heterogeneous architecture. So, if you look at our consumer CPUs or see the system environment, the world of CPUs, the GPUs, and the accelerators, everything is important. We are very actively working on machine learning accelerators integrated into our silicon, and we will talk more about them as we approach the start.
Ian Cutress: When I talked to Mark Papermaster at CES, he said AMD has a CPU architecture group and two implementation groups. Do you expect this to change in light of recent achievements in the AMD product portfolio?
Lisa Su: The CPU group will definitely get bigger, if that's what you mean! But the GPU group – David (Wang) also has a very large group. However, we are on a very clear roadmap: Zen 2 is what we are talking about today, Zen 3 is deep in development and Zen 4 is also under development. Similarly, today we are talking to the GPU group about the first generation of rDNA, and we have several generations at the same time. So I think that our roadmap has not changed. Our roadmap, when Mark and I started the roadmap with the rest of the team, was the idea that we needed several generations of continuous improvement. With Zen, Zen +, Zen 2, Zen 3 it was all part of the plan. In the future, we will continue to be very aggressive towards the CPU.
Ian Cutress: Does AMD have the ability (or desire) to develop two different CPU microarchitectures for different market segments?
Lisa Su: You know, it's not clear that we want that. We learned by focusing our resources on Zen. Of course, Zen on the server is a bit different from the PC – surely the frequencies, the performance, and all these things are different. But we're learning so much when we use the same technology in multiple markets, and I do not think we'll change that in the near future.
Ian Cutress: In the light of AMD's semi-custom business with the consoles, we turn to Silicon Zen 2 and Navi. Can you talk about Renoir?
Lisa Su: [to self] Can I say something about Renoir? [to others] It's going well.
Ian Cutress: There were some unconfirmed reports that the project is dead.
Lisa Su: That's not true. It runs fine. By the way, did we talk about Renoir?
John Taylor, AMD: I think we did not say anything about Renoir. I think Ian is breaking new ground here. What is Renoir? [laughs] Future Ryzen Mobile.
PCWorld: So Intel is mostly struggling with where desktop clients are being used, and it seems they're using other things like Optane or Thunderbolt 3, and they're using all those things in the CPU, except computing power. Will this be a problem for AMD if you have to fight Optane and TB3 and what they will install in Desktop?
Lisa Su: First of all We have long desktop architectures. We've really focused on bringing more computing power to all systems, the desktop, the server and the laptop. I think open standards are really important, and you know we're going down the street with the store sellers and all the other people, and we'll continue to do that. I do not see it as a major disadvantage, but as an opportunity. That's why we always bring the ecosystem together, and if you look at the number of people supporting PCIe Gen 4, we expect that we come first, and the fact that we come first and all of them Ecosystem partners are extremely aggressive I think they give you a little insight into the ambition of the ecosystem when it comes to being skilled and available to our ecosystem.
PCIe Gen 4.0 and Motherboards
Paul Alcorn: PCIe 4.0 had a pretty big delay before it was introduced, and PCIe 5.0 is just around the corner. Do you expect a faster introduction of PCIe 5.0, so that PCIe 4.0 is short-lived?
Lisa Su: Well, I think it remains to be seen. Things seem to be getting faster and things always take a bit longer than expected.
Paul Alcorn: There have been reports that some motherboards, especially the lower, do not support new Ryzen, the 3rd rd gene processor. Is that exactly the particular boards of the A-series.
David McAfee: So, looking at today's motherboard ecosystem, we'll be sure to provide BIOS updates to our ecosystem partners to take into account at various levels of their portfolios. However, I do not expect any motherboard for processors of the Ryzen 3000 series to be updated by partners. This will also be a kind of portfolio decision from their point of view, where they apply these updates and when they will not apply these updates.
Robert Hallock: Do you think that this is not the case? This is a bigger story with AM4, because nobody in the history of x86 has at a time when our competitors have socket compatibility every year break, creating an upgradeable socket that is in no way inferior to AM4. Basically, there are three consecutive generations, all falling in the same socket, and this socket was started four cores four years ago and is now 12+ cores, has PCIe Gen 4 and has grown massively. That's the bigger story for me than a motherboard here and there that does not understand it.
Paul Alcorn: With PCIe 4.0 backward compatibility, who validates that? Are the motherboard partners going to PCI-SIG or AMD to validate these transfer rates?
David McAfee: If you claim that your motherboards are PCIe Gen 4 ready, this is a certification that is made through PCI-SIG, not AMD. I think what we are seeing when we launch our new product, the X570 platform, is the platform that will carry the accompanying PCIe Gen 4 readiness certificate. In addition, other motherboards may or may not be compatible. It really depends on how these old motherboards are designed and what features they provide at the platform level. If we go out the window, we do not expect older motherboards compatibility with Gen 4. [AMD has since confirmed that only X570 at this time will have PCIe 4.0.]
Mobile and Mobile Form Factors
Engadget: I wonder how AMD is looking at the changing form factors of PCs. It's been a big trend for Computex over the past year and we still see it, we see different types of industries and we do not always see AMD driving these systems. Is that something you are thinking about?
Lisa Su: You know that we have a lot to do with OEMs. I think there will be more and more form factors finished with Ryzen Mobile's second generation. I think you will see more if we continue. I think the PC and the form factor mean that innovation is very important. We are very connected with Microsoft and the OEMs.
Nikkei: How do you feel about the 5G PC or the folding PC? Do you see a usability for such things?
Lisa Su: Yes, there will certainly be 5G PCs. I think 5G is still too early and the infrastructure is not yet available on the consumer side.
Ian Cutress: Intel loves realizing such projects as Ultrabook and now the new Athena project, which aims to bring together the ecosystem to develop better designs or ultimately, as much hardware as possible possible to unify from Intel in a single scheme. Normally, AMD has not really pushed back the mobile space – they focus on authenticating form factors with a brand logo and leaving it up to the OEMs.
Lisa Su: I What you have hopefully seen is the progression of form factors from the first generation to the second generation of Ryzen Mobile and beyond. I'll say that for a long time, OEMs did not necessarily bring AMD processors to their best form factors. We worked very closely with the OEMs to introduce many more. That's why you saw Microsoft's modern device category as something that we were very focused on. We are very focused on the user experience, and you will be very pleasantly surprised with the new form factors that AMD will release in the coming months.
Ian Cutress: What do you think about your competitors who hire a number of journalists for technical media? Ultimately, this reduces the number of people talking about AMD?
Lisa Su: You know, you seem to talk a lot about us! I'm not worried about that. I am very proud of our team at AMD. If you look at our engineering team as far as the CPU side or the GPU side of our business environment is concerned, I think we have an enormous team that's always fed up. I like tech reporters reporting on technology to thank you for it. And you know I really like the attention AMD receives. Sometimes I think maybe a little too much! No, that's not true – there is not too much. There's probably a bit to worry about the rumor mill not getting out of hand.
Many thanks to Dr. med. Lisa Su and her team for their time.
- An Interview with AMDs Forrest Norrod: Naples, Rome, Milan and Genoa (3rd Quarter 2019)
- Naples, Rome, Milan, Zen 4: An Interview with AMD CTO, Mark Papermaster (4 Quarter 2018)
- An exclusive media interview at AMD Tech Tag with CEO Dr. Ing. Lisa Su (Q1 2018)
- Bringing AMD to Ticks: A Very Zen Interview with Dr. Ing. Lisa Su, CEO (Q1 2017)
- An AnandTech Exclusive: The Jim Keller Interview
- An Interview with Snapdragon: An Interview with Cristano Amon, President of Qualcomm
- An Interview with Lisa Spelman, Vice President of Intel's DCG: Discussion of Cooper Lake and Smeltdown  Interview with Rod O'Shea, EMEA Embedded Group Director and Site Manager for Intel UK
- Interview with Jackson Hsu, Product Management Director at GIGABYTE