Here are some last speculative thoughts before we'll hear about Zen at Hot Chips 28, from the guy, who told you first about Bulldozer's and Zen's microarchitectures, AMD's upcoming 32 core server chip, and some other interesting things. Now I can say this, as AMD did present a first view on Zen's microarchitecture just a day after my last blog posting. Again, I was pretty close. This simply depends on the amount of data found in patches and patents.
However, some things are different: The speculated Zen microarchitecture shown here on this blog had a unified scheduler for the 4 ALUs and a second one for the AGUs, while Zen actually has 6 separate schedulers instead. The base for my assumption was the cat core heritage. But of course, a unified scheduler for 4 execution units holding lots of µOps is still a big step up from a scheduler, which only has to issue to two units (cat cores). Now what's the reason for this configuration? At first, there are many possible typical design trade-off related reasons, like area, delays, buffer sizes, power efficiency. But there are also some interesting concepts, like a dependency chain oriented handling of instruction streams. If some code has an instruction level parallelism greater than one, there are groups of instructions, which at some point could be executed independently of the main flow, until their result gets fed back. These groups and sections of the main flow could also be called dependency chains, where it is not possible to execute a newer instruction before an older one, as each of them in the chain depends on some result of its predecessing operation. Here is an example:
mov eax, [edi]This code actually can't be executed out-of-order. All the logic put into an out-of-order scheduler would be a waste of energy in this case. And multiple same type execution units for parallel issue wouldn't help to speed this up either. A single scheduler with an integer execution unit (IEU), and an address generation unit (AGU) would be enough. The latter wouldn't even need a separate scheduler, similar to the K7, K8, K10 series of CPUs. This could be one reason for Zen's individual schedulers, as one identified dependency chain could be sent to a single integer scheduler and one AGU scheduler if there are memory operands. The other schedulers might even be clock gated then.
add eax, ecx
imul edi, eax
cmp [ebp+08h], edi
U.S. Patent No. 8769539 covers a scheduler, which can be switched between out-of-order and in-order operation. One of the inventors is Zen project leader Suzanne Plummer, while Dan Hopper is also an important member of the Zen x86 core design team. In combination with many other patents (for example US20120023314), which cover dependency chain related logic, there might be such a scheduler in Zen.
Knowing the dependency chain also offers several efficiency measures. One patent covered different latencies for "far source operands" and close ones, i.e. coming from a different "lane" or the same. Bypass networks could be implemented in a somewhat more relaxed way, which improves delay and power efficiency.
A Zen core size estimationAfter talking about Zen's die size just days ago, there is another size, which likely will be revealed at Hot Chips: the size of a Zen core. Earlier this year I created a table to estimate that size based on Excavator module components and some scaling factors. Based on AMD's statement about a density optimized process, one of the unknowns in this calculation just became a bit smaller. Their statement could both mean dense metal layers or high density standard cell libs. For simplicity and lack of further data, assuming no density related scaling should do. Process related scaling is a different story, though.
Using die photos, it is possible to measure the size of a graphics CU. On a Polaris 10 die, the size of a graphics CU is about 2.96 mm², while Carrizo has 7.21 mm² CUs. This results in a scaling factor of about 41%. Putting this all together with some individual scaling factors based on design changes (e.g. more ALUs, smaller multiplier arrays, 64KB L1 I$ - already included in the "area 1C" number), results in a Zen core size incl. L2 cache of about 4.9 mm².
|Zen core size estimation based on Excavator data|