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AMD Embraces Hybrid Architecture: A Game-Changer In CPU Design

The tech world was taken aback when AMD announced its intentions to create a hybrid CPU, with the first model already in the pipeline. This move is significant not only from a technical perspective but also because it indicates that AMD is taking cues from Intel, a rare occurrence.

Intel made waves when it launched its 12th-generation Alder Lake chips in late 2021, which featured two entirely different types of cores within the same package. This “hybrid architecture” was not a new concept, as Arm had been using a similar approach for years under the name big.LITTLE. However, it was a game-changer for desktops, enabling Intel to deliver high performance while using less power and space than a non-hybrid CPU. AMD, on the other hand, has traditionally offered only one architecture per CPU.

This is set to change, as AMD has all but confirmed that its first hybrid processor is on the horizon. The specifics of AMD’s hybrid architecture are still under wraps, but we do have some key details about what is likely to be the company’s first hybrid CPU.

Hybrid architecture could significantly enhance AMD’s Ryzen CPUs. The question often arises as to why Intel fills its CPUs with weaker E-cores instead of going all-in on P-cores. The answer lies in power and area. P-cores are faster than E-cores but consume more power. For CPUs like the 13900K, less efficiency translates to less performance as it pushes the boundaries of how much power a CPU can feasibly consume without overheating. E-cores are also much smaller than P-cores, allowing Intel to pack more performance into a smaller size.

AMD’s first hybrid CPU, the Phoenix 2 APU, is already in the works. It’s a six-core APU, likely featuring two Zen 4 cores and four Zen 4c cores. The result is a significantly smaller CPU than the regular Phoenix APU. However, it’s also significantly cut down in other areas; it lacks Ryzen AI capabilities, and its integrated graphics are limited to four cores.

One challenge AMD faces on desktops is that it can only incorporate two CPU chiplets in a mainstream CPU, which has left Ryzen stuck at 16 cores since 2019. However, Zen 4c CCDs have 16 cores rather than the 8 on Zen 4 CCDs, and using one of each would allow AMD to reach the 24-core mark without issue.

In conclusion, the impending death of Moore’s Law could have significant implications for AMD and its CPU design approach. Chiplets are a way to circumvent the increasing cost of manufacturing processors and the diminishing improvements each new process brings. For a forward-thinking company like AMD, incorporating hybrid architecture seems like the logical next step. Phoenix 2 will be AMD’s first hybrid chip, but it could just be the start. AMD is clearly starting small here with a chip that won’t be exclusively used for hybrid processors, but in the coming generations, AMD will likely try to leverage every advantage it can from hybrid architecture.

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