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CPU Performance for the Next Decade

September 25, 2018

Author: Samuel Naffziger

Samuel Naffziger is a Corporate Fellow at AMD with 30 years’ experience in microprocessor design at AMD, Intel, and Hewlett-Packard.

Moore’s Law has driven remarkable increases in general-purpose compute capability over the past decade, but how exactly have these transistor improvements translated into greater performance? This article examines the fundamental technology advances that have contributed to this increase by analyzing benchmark, die-size, and power data from mainstream processors over the past decade. High-performance computing requires both general-purpose processing, which is usually accomplished by CPUs, and special-purpose processing, often accomplished by GPUs. This analysis will focus on these products, particularly mainstream dual-socket (2P) server processors and high-end graphics processors.

These results show that Moore’s Law, while significant, doesn’t account for the majority of the improvement. Much of the advance in compute capability is a result of unsustainable approaches such as increasing die size and TDP. These approaches are reaching limits that will slow the rate of performance improvement over the next decade. If our industry is to satisfy the accelerating demand for more general-purpose compute performance, new approaches will be needed.

Partitioned multidie designs, such as AMD’s Epyc server processor, ease the cost of larger die by increasing yield. Packaging techniques that support multiple die can be extended to stacking die, as in High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) modules. Combining processors and memory stacks on a single substrate boosts power efficiency (memory bits transferred per watt) substantially. Additional gains could come from integrating a high-voltage converter on the processor package.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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