The GNU Compiler Collection has received support for the upcoming AMD Zen 5 architecture with a new patch. This indicates that several new instructions will appear on Zen 5-based chips (via Phoronix). The update not only shows that AMD is readying Zen 5 for launch, but also points to specific guidelines in which AMD aims to implement the new architecture.
Zen 5 debuts with five instructions that have not previously appeared in chips on the Zen architecture. Four of these instructions have been native to Intel processors for several years, and one will appear in the company’s Granite Rapids server processors soon, so in some ways AMD is playing catch-up with Intel. This isn’t unusual, as AMD doesn’t seem to place as much importance on instruction set support as Intel, especially AVX-related instructions, Tom’s Hardware reports.
Perhaps the most notable of the five instructions is AVX-VNNI, which Intel first introduced in its 2021 Alder Lake processors. VNNI stands for Vector Neural Network Instructions, and it is becoming more relevant in today’s AI-oriented environments. AVX-VNNI should not be confused with AVX512-VNNI, it is more powerful compared to AVX512 instructions. Both instructions can perform the same operations, but the AVX512-VNNI has access to 512-bit vectors and EVEX extensions for better performance.
Zen 4 already has AVX512-VNNI, so adding support for a weaker version might seem strange, but Intel did the same a few years ago. The advantage of using the non-512-bit version is for consumer components to be able to run software that doesn’t take advantage of AVX512, as data center applications do. Either way, it seems clear that AMD is continuing to focus on AI in its future processors (including consumer models).
The latest GCC patch is not the first for Zen 5 processors. Code for Zen 5 has been leaked since last July, and there was also a Linux update that added new power management features. For reference, GCC support for Zen 4 was already added after the launch of Ryzen 7000 processors, and while this should not be taken as a quick release of Zen 5, it is likely that the new generation will be launched this year. AMD has been tight-lipped about Zen 5 so far, but it may break its silence at Computex in May.