AMD still hasn’t taken the lid off its Zen 4 processors – the red team’s Ryzen 7000-series desktop CPUs aren’t expected until later in the year. However, it’s rare for such things to remain a secret for long before launch, and so here’s what appears to be a Zen 4 processor without any caps.
An unnamed overclocker somehow managed to get his hands on one of AMD’s upcoming desktop processors before launch and performed the potentially risky procedure of handing over the chip. This is a process that involves removing the heat sink (IHS) from the top of a processor’s silicon; usually done for the purpose of replacing the heatsink with a copper number or replacing the thermal interface material for better cooling.
Delidding is an especially risky procedure now that both AMD and Intel tend to solder their silicon to the bottom of the IHS to improve heat transfer. You can see evidence of this weld in the image below, collected by TechPowerUp (opens in new tab) from the IHS after it has been removed.
The exact source of the image went unnoticed in an attempt to prevent the overclocker from ending up in AMD’s bad books.
This is a newly designed IHS that will be introduced with Zen 4 processors and the AM5 platform, meaning this is our first look at its build beyond the renders provided by AMD. The telltale sign that this is a Zen 4 IHS, or something that looks exactly like it, is the many feet on the edges. This isn’t something we’ve seen much before, and AMD has already provided images that show this drawing (opens in new tab).
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You can also see that the Zen 4 IHS appears to be made of a thick piece of metal, which could be a useful feature to keep future generations of chips cool under load.
The thickness of the IHS can also be a tool to more evenly distribute the heat generated by the chip to its extremes for efficient cooling. Still, it’s hard to say how much thicker it is than the existing AM4 IHS without a side-by-side comparison.
Existing AM4 compatible coolers should largely work with the AM5 socket. This means that for all the changes in the thickness of various parts, socket design, etc., there are at least a few key similarities in their construction. That said, AMD switched to an LGA chip with AM5, which means the pins are no longer on the processor itself, but inside the motherboard socket. It makes a little different look socket (opens in new tab) on announced high-end motherboards.
Judging by the three solder points on the AM5 IHS, I think we’re looking at a Ryzen 9 processor. The biggest solder footprint seen on the IHS will be the cIOD, or the Zen 4 equivalent, which manages all the I/O. The other two contours will contain a CCD chiplet, which will likely have eight cores each. Not all of these cores may be working, so this could be a 10-core or 12-core chip, but it could also be a 16-core processor.
It could also be a failure or an engineering show of some kind. Engineering samples of AMD chips are occasionally listed on eBay in the months leading up to launch for a premium price, a common occurrence when AMD starts to sample chips for OEMs and manufacturers who need to test these chips for their own product designs.
The fact that someone out there has a Zen 4 chip in their hands could be a sign that they are heading our way relatively soon. Though it won’t be until the end of summer at the earliest. AMD says these chips arrive in autumnbut maybe we can hope for an early fall release now.