Zen 2 cores in next gen consoles and how they will change gaming

Carfax83

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Nov 1, 2010
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When the PS4 and XBox One were both announced to have 64 bit Jaguar based CPUs, there was a collective celebration among PC gamers. Finally, consoles and PC shared a unifying 64 bit architecture which would not only make games bigger and more seamless than ever, it would also make porting and optimization much easier; at least theoretically. In the end, I think it worked out rather well. PC gaming is stronger than ever, and as a long time PC gamer, I think the quality of the porting and optimization is much better than it was in the PS3/Xbox 360 days. Another massive benefit of the x86-64 based consoles was that they also forced the developers to multithread their engines to a much greater degree. Although the CPUs in the PS4 and Xbox One were significantly more powerful than the PS3 and Xbox 360 CPUs, they were relatively weak compared to their PC counterparts, with much lower IPC and clock speeds. But they did have multiple cores, and so developers definitely found ways to target them and milk every last bit of performance out of them. The advent of Vulkan and DX12 made exploiting parallelism easier and more powerful and now we have full fledged DX12 and Vulkan only titles that can fully use our expensive multicore CPUs to run at ridiculous framerates.

That's the past, now fast forward to just yesterday when AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su made her presentation for their upcoming Zen 2 based CPU lineup. Unlike the previous Jaguar based CPUs found in the PS4 and Xbox One consoles, these new CPUs are apparently extremely potent and come with IPC that's comparable or better than the best Intel CPUs out now, whist also having a modern instruction set and an arguably more efficient SMT implementation wrapped in significantly lower TDP envelopes courtesy of TSMC's 7nm process. Of course I don't expect the CPUs in the next gen consoles to rival their PC counterparts in clock speed due to power restraints, but these new CPUs are potentially game changing; not only for consoles but for PCs as well.

Despite the huge advancements in gaming over the years brought about by the current gen consoles, particularly in terms of size, scope and seamlessness (thanks primarily to 64 bit), there is no doubt that the comparatively weak Jaguar based CPUs held gaming back in several ways. Most notably, A.I, physics and framerate. Current gen consoles have a helluva time trying to maintain their framerates, and this is especially the case with 60 FPS titles. A good example of that is Doom. None of the consoles, including the PS4 Pro and X1X can maintain a solid 60 FPS in that game, and Doom is one of the most performant current gen titles with a good balance of IQ and framerate. Online FPS/MMBR titles fare even worse.

I expect all of that to be remedied for the better with the new Zen 2 based CPUs, and then some. The question is, to what degree? I don't know how much faster Zen 2 is compared to Jaguar, but I know it has to be at least 3 to 4 times. There's a whole lot that can be done with such a massive increase in CPU performance. Another thing to consider are the full speed AVX2+FMA units, which the new consoles will now have access to. Developers are going to target AVX/AVX2+FMA in a big way I would wager, and this will also impact PC gaming. I'd like the more knowledgeable forum members to comment on this in particular if possible. I suppose the increased vector performance can be put to good use in real time physics simulation rather than relying on canned effects or static simulations.

All comments are welcome! :cool:
 

.vodka

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Dec 5, 2014
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http://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/compare/13061636?baseline=13241660

Little Athlon 5350 (Jaguar) @ 2GHz vs that 6c12t Zen 2 @ 4GHz that leaked the other day.

Even trying to extrapolate results @ clock speeds down to the 2-3GHz range for the Zen2 sample in the single core section, it's a monumental jump. Games this generation will go so much above and beyond just pretty graphics thanks to this much extra CPU power... All areas you mentioned as lacking (AI, physics, etc) improved to get all this graphical beauty come to life, just think about it.

Upcoming games will be amazing. Later games that will be built to use up to the last drops of performance this hardware will offer, even more.
 
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TheELF

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Dec 22, 2012
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Yeah the little athlon was running at a little bit over 1Ghz due to the thermal restraints of the consoles,4Ghz is nowhere near possible especially not for 12 threads.
 
Feb 4, 2009
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Meh, we always hear how the next generation of consoles will change everything.........and it never happens.
I’m sure the new ones will be like all the previous, better frame rates, marginally better lighting and some kind of graphics trick like motion blur, they’ll likely run cooler.
 
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Olikan

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As discussed prior, zen2 L3$ cache might be severy reduced... Like 4Mb per CCX, acting only for thread comunication and L2 victim...

Won't be surprised if it doesn't even have L3$, for even more power/area saving...(L2$ probably will increase to 1Mb/core)
 

Zepp

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May 18, 2019
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Meh, we always hear how the next generation of consoles will change everything.........and it never happens.
we'll see but it looks pretty monumental. When current gen consoles launched in 2013 they were powered by cores with essentially 2006 IPC and clockspeeds. when next gen consoles launch in 2020 they'll be powered by cores with 2019 IPC and clockspeeds
 
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SPBHM

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Sep 12, 2012
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I hope they are proper Zen2 and not some custom aberration missing l3 cache and running at 2Ghz

in any case, I would expect a lot more 60FPS titles and on the long run a lot more advanced gameplay in terms of physics, interactive objects, AI, geometry complexity and such
 
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maddie

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Jul 18, 2010
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Meh, we always hear how the next generation of consoles will change everything.........and it never happens.
I’m sure the new ones will be like all the previous, better frame rates, marginally better lighting and some kind of graphics trick like motion blur, they’ll likely run cooler.
Threads, powerful ones. Engines really utilizing 12+ threads will be a 1st. Might be a while, but it almost certainly is coming.
 
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maddie

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Remember that Sony cell thing
Yes, but that was an aberration at the time. This time, cores are ubiquitous, and I'm holding hope for the Soft machines tech. I know Intel has spent badly on acquisitions, but would they have bought the company if the tech was totally useless. AMD and Mubadala were investors for several years before Intel purchased the company.
 

moinmoin

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Point is, they aren't CPU's, they are more like a GPU's CU or a DSP, they could only access there own scratch pad, needed DMA for memory access etc
Indeed, Sony/IBM Cells were closer to programmable shaders than actual CPUs.

Edit: To clarify for those who don't know, a Cell processor consist of one PPE (which is the CPU part and based on Power PC) and eight SPEs (which are optimized for asynchronous floating point calculations). If one talks about the Cells in a PS3, it's usually in reference to the latter. Wikipedia is pretty good on this.
 
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gdansk

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Feb 8, 2011
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Assuming 8 cores at up to 3GHz, the PS5 will have faster CPU than my (admittedly a few year old) PC. I wonder what it will cost. Either way I'm not buying one until the "slim" refresh.
 

naukkis

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Jun 5, 2002
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Won't be surprised if it doesn't even have L3$, for even more power/area saving...(L2$ probably will increase to 1Mb/core)
Module is held together with last level cache, which for Zen is L3. For Jaquar(and Dozers) that was L2. They can't make a module without last level cache so they can't leave L3 out for Zen2 designs.
 

Carfax83

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Nov 1, 2010
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Threads, powerful ones. Engines really utilizing 12+ threads will be a 1st. Might be a while, but it almost certainly is coming.
Yeah I have to agree with this. Most of the big 3D engines out there can handle 8 threads really well now, ie FB3, AnvilNext, CryEngine etcetera. On CPUs with more than 8 threads, the performance tends to taper off or diminish slightly. There are a few exceptions to this of course, like IdTech 6.5 which uses Vulkan exclusively now, but those are rare.

All of that is going to change with the next gen consoles. Even though the PS5 reportedly will have an 8 core Zen 2 based CPU with no SMT, I'm pretty sure Microsoft will have SMT enabled for the high end model of their next gen console. These questions will be answered when E3 rolls out in a couple of weeks! :D
 

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