What is AMD 3D V-Cache? Ryzen packaging technology, explained

AMD announced the Ryzen 7 5800X3D at CES 2022, bringing the world’s first processor with 3D V-Cache to market. It’s an interesting processor, outclassing the more expensive flagships from AMD and Intel. To understand why, you need to familiarize yourself with what AMD 3D V-Cache is, how well it can perform, and why it matters.

3D V-Cache is just a different way of arranging a processor, a way that leaves more room for the cache on the chip. This could be a major change for AMD, and it could impact many generations to come. We’re going to wonder if this is really the revolution that AMD has presented, or if it is just about bringing hot air to the market.

What is AMD 3D V-Cache?

AMD Computex 2021 Lisa Su

AMD 3D V-Cache is packaging technology that stacks additional layers of cache on top of a processor. It sounds complex, and from an engineering perspective it is, but it’s not hard to understand what AMD’s technology does. Instead of placing the cache next to the processor as has been done traditionally, AMD stacks the cache on top to put more pressure on the chip.

It’s a different way of laying out a processor, and thanks to advancements in the way processor manufacturers put components on a chip, AMD is able to use more cache without creating a massive processor. AMD has only framed the extra cache in the gaming area, where the company says it can offer a 15% improvement on average.

To understand why, it’s important to understand what the cache does. Your processor has three levels of cache, the lowest being L3 or level 3 cache. Each level of cache is smaller in size but faster in speed, acting as a memory chain to your processor that can deliver instructions depending on your processor. needs.

Think of the cache as a supply chain. Your RAM is like a national warehouse, the L3 cache is a regional distribution center, and so on through the L2 and L1 caches. For 3D V-Cache, we are talking about additional L3 cache, the slowest level on your CPU. It’s only relatively slow, though – each layer of cache is still much faster than your hard drive or RAM.

More L3 cache allows the processor to broadcast and store more instructions, which decreases the number of times it has to fetch instructions from RAM. Of course, this does not provide a performance advantage in all situations. However, in scenarios where the processor handles multiple instructions, like gaming, an additional L3 cache should provide a big boost.

AMD CEO owns a 3D V-Cache processor.

Why not just more cache on the processor? AMD doesn’t want to put all of its eggs in one basket. Layering more cache on the processor opens up the possibility of defeats, rendering the entire processor useless. The 3D V-Cache is separate from the processor chip, close to the processor but not part of it. This provides the bandwidth advantages brought by the proximity of the cache to the processor without risk.

Right now we only have one processor that comes with 3D V-Cache: the Ryzen 7 5800X3D. It comes with an additional 64MB of 3D V-Cache, but AMD says its packaging technology can scale up to 192MB. As 2022 begins and we start to look to AMD’s Ryzen 7000 processors, we’ll probably see a lot more of 3D V-Cache.

3D V-Cache processors

AMD CEO presents a new processor.

3D V-Cache is a technology that should eventually find its way into AMD’s product stack. For now, we only have one processor with: The Ryzen 7 5800X3D. It’s slated for release in the spring and it ships with the same eight cores and 16 threads as the Ryzen 7 5800X. The big difference is the 64MB of V-Cache 3D, bringing the total L3 cache to 96MB.

AMD will likely release more 3D V-Cache processors soon, but they won’t come from the Ryzen line. Since the launch of the third-generation AMD Epyc server processors, the company has talked about an update to the line-up that includes 3D V-Cache. AMD claims that the 256MB of flagship Epyc 7763 can reach up to 768MB.

Throughout 2022, we’ll likely see 3D V-Cache being the cornerstone of AMD’s processor announcements. The first Ryzen processor appears to be a proof of concept – a working chip that can serve as a benchmark for future Ryzen and Epyc designs. Cache has a lot more impact in the data center, and AMD likely certifies the technology before deploying it to a fleet of servers.

3D V-Cache performance

Performance data is scarce for 3D V-Cache at this time. AMD has only announced one processor with packaging technology, and it is yet to arrive. We rely on data provided by AMD and always suggest waiting for validation of third-party testing.

The Ryzen 7 5800X3D is an interesting processor based on what AMD has said. Instead of comparing it to the base Ryzen 7 5800X, AMD compared it to the Ryzen 9 5900X and the Core i9-12900K. Ryzen 7 processors aren’t meant to compete with Ryzen 9 and Core i9 chips, setting the tone for what 3D V-Cache can offer gamers.

Dr. Lisa Su presents the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D.

For more details, AMD states that the Ryzen 7 5800X3D can offer an increase of around 15% at 1080p compared to the Ryzen 9 5900X. In Watch Dogs Legion, AMD claims that the new chip offers a 36% boost, and in Far Cry 6, an increase of 24%. Keep in mind that the Ryzen 7 5800X3D comes with four fewer cores than the Ryzen 9 5900X, illustrating how V-Cache 3D can improve performance while gaming.

Even more impressively, AMD claims that the Ryzen 7 5800X3D can match or exceed Intel’s Core i9-12900K. We consider Intel’s current flagship to be the best processor for gaming, but if AMD’s numbers are right, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D could take that crown. In titles like Final Fantasy XIV, AMD says it sees a 17% improvement over the Core i9.

While AMD’s claims are impressive, it’s important to take them with a dose of reality. AMD only shared numbers for 1080p. As the resolution increases, the processor plays a less important role in performance. It will be important to research the 1440p and 4K benchmarks once the processor kicks in to see how it actually compares to flagships.

A packaging revolution?

Render of an AMD Ryzen chip.

AMD is very fond of 3D V-Cache, and for good reason. We have to wait until we test the packaging technology before drawing any conclusions, but AMD’s numbers are impressive and CPU cache can have a huge impact on gaming. While we don’t have any third-party tests on 3D V-Cache, we already know how much Ryzen prefers fast memory.

Without getting too deep in the weeds, Ryzen processors use chiplets instead of a single die. By separating the processor components, AMD chips have higher latency than their Intel counterparts. To counter this, AMD includes a large amount of L3 cache and dense interconnects. And when it comes to RAM, faster speeds further improve the situation caused by AMD’s chip architecture design.

3D V-Cache takes what was supposed to make up for a performance deficit and turns it into a performance advantage. More L3 cache does not improve latency, but it does allow more data to be stored in the CPU instead of RAM. In turn, this reduces the overall latency – the data coming from RAM and flowing to the processor – by allowing more to stay on the chip before being flushed.

Technically, 3D V-Cache is more than a hype. That said, it will likely only offer marginal improvement at higher resolutions. The real reason to be excited about 3D V-Cache is future generations of AMD processors, where architectural improvements and 3D V-Cache together could bring big leaps in performance.


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