CTO Mark Papermaster promised a hard launch for Ryzen, without any paper launches, limited availability, or limited product introductions.
He said that when Zen debuts it'll debut in different configurations and will not be a single eight-core part.
Papermaster said that the four-year target didn’t mean that AMD wouldn't make changes to the core.
"We're not going tick-tock... Zen is going to be tock, tock, tock."
AMD has never strictly deployed a similar approach over multiple product cycles before. It is possible to read Papermaster’s comments as AMD might put Zen on new manufacturing nodes over time or release aggressive series of tweaks and improvements to the current core.
There's a significant lag between when a design tapes out and when it ships to consumers. This means AMD's CPU design team is almost certainly hard at work on Zen's successor already, even though Zen hasn't shipped.
It is starting to look like AMD has bet the farm on Zen so that once it arrives then it seems that the fabless chipmaker will be keeping it with us for a while.