AMD had a busy week last week. It introduced the third generation of its Zen microarchitecture, which has been propelling the company\u2019s comeback since 2017, and is the subject of reports it is looking to buy field-programmagle gate array (FPGA) maker Xilinx.\nFive years ago, AMD was a non-entity in the CPU market and only kept afloat by its GPU business. Intel had written the company off and considered Qualcomm its biggest competitor. Then the company came out with Zen, a whole new design. \u201cWe started with Zen from scratch, starting from a clean sheet of paper,\u201d said CEO Lisa Su in a video announcement.\nThe result is a nice comeback for a company that had been written off five years ago. It has 5.8% of the server market share as of Q2, 19.2% of desktop and 19.9% of mobile, according to Mercury Research, which specializes in semiconductor market share. The server share may seem low, but two years ago it was at zero and server turnover is slower than desktop.\n\nThe new Zen 3 architecture is based on a seven-nanometer design and comes with a 19% uplift in instructions per clock (IPC) over the previous-generation Zen 2. It also has increased maximum boost frequencies, and a redesigned core layout and cache topology. As with previous generations, Zen 3 will be used in AMD\u2019s Ryzen desktop and laptop CPUs and Epyc server processors, just with different core counts and caches.\nThis announcement was geared around Ryzen and gaming in particular, but there will eventually be new Epyc server processors based on Zen 3. Zen 2 introduced some major changes, notably the chiplet design. Instead of one monolithic CPU, it had several smaller chips with eight or 16 cores per chiplet, all interconnected by a high-speed interconnect.\nAMD CTO Mark Papermaster said Zen 3 increased integer and floating point execution units wider and more flexible, and allows for more execution capability at a lower latency. AMD added more branch prediction to reduce delays of computation. That will apply to Epyc even though AMD is currently talking games.\nAt the same time AMD worked on power efficiency, something that is definitely an issue. Papermaster said the new generation of chips are up to 24% more power efficient than the last generation of Zen, something that will no doubt be appealing to server customers.\nZen 3 Epyc processors, being developed under the codename \u201cMilan,\u201d are planned for launch later this year, AMD says.\nHow buying Xilinx could help AMD\nLast week the Wall Street Journal reported AMD was in advanced talks to buy FPGA chip maker Xilinx in a deal that could be valued at more than $30 billion. That\u2019s the biggest purchase this side of Nvidia\u2019s $40 billion buyout of Arm Holdings.\nThat\u2019s a hefty sum to pay for a company that might break the $8 billion mark in annual sales this year, but AMD\u2019s comeback has seen a massive run-up in its stock. AMD stock once traded at $0.50. It closed on Friday at $83.10.\nXilinx is in San Jose, California, just down the road from AMD in Santa Clara. It\u2019s the last major independent FPGA maker after Intel gobbled up its rival Altera in 2015 for $16.7 billion. That hasn\u2019t proved a big boom for Intel, notes Kevin Krewell, principal analyst with Tirias Research.\n\u201cIntel was trying to create a one-stop shop for AI accelerators and Altera was part of that solution, but it hasn\u2019t been a big win for Intel," he said. "Altera is still holding the same marketshare.\u201d\nBut he notes Intel has multiple processor offerings for AI, including Xeon, the Xe GPU, Nervana, and other products. Its strategy is built around an API that uses all of these chips for AI processing. AMD\u2019s AI strategy has been wholly reliant on its Radeon GPUs.\n\u201cThis would give AMD more flexibility, and Xilinx has gone much further down the road on AI. It would definitely improve AMD\u2019s AI positioning, whereas with Intel Altera was one slice of a bigger pie,\u201d said Krewell.