AMD launches Epyc server pro­ces­sor

Epyc is a mul­ti­mod­ule SoC based on the Zen ar­chi­tec­ture of its Ryzen Thread­rip­per chip, writes MARC FERRANTI

Tech Advisor - - News -

It’s not just AMD which hopes its Epyc server pro­ces­sor will break In­tel’s stran­gle­hold on the data-cen­tre chip mar­ket. En­ter­prise users, web host­ing com­pa­nies and hy­per­scale cloud providers all want com­pe­ti­tion and choice in server chips to curb costs and fuel in­no­va­tion.

“OEMs have been look­ing for an al­ter­na­tive to In­tel for a long time, and with In­tel hav­ing 98 per­cent mar­ket share I can say that there’s ab­so­lutely a need, from the

OEM point of view and the chan­nel point of view,” said Pa­trick Moor­head, prin­ci­pal at Moor In­sights & Strat­egy.

Judg­ing from specs, per­for­mance bench­marks and mem­ory fea­tures as well as the sup­port­ing voices from soft­ware and hard­ware mak­ers in the data cen­tre ecosys­tem, Epyc has the best shot of any chip to hit the mar­ket in years at putting a crack in In­tel’s dom­i­nance.

“For AMD to pen­e­trate the mar­ket, win hearts and minds, to cre­ate value that cus­tomers are will­ing to pay for, we have to be dis­rup­tive,” said Dan Bounds, se­nior di­rec­tor of data cen­tre prod­ucts and en­ter­prise so­lu­tions at AMD. “To come in and have a prod­uct that looks and smells like the com­pe­ti­tion re­ally isn’t use­ful.”

Though AMD has been teas­ing Epyc’s fea­tures for some time, and leaks of spec­i­fi­ca­tion sheets have been cir­cu­lat­ing this past month. The re­cent launch is the first of­fi­cial pub­lic un­veil­ing of de­tails for the whole prod­uct stack.

The bot­tom rung fea­tures the Epyc 7251, which of­fers eight cores sup­port­ing 16 si­mul­ta­ne­ous threads, and a base fre­quency of 2.1GHz that tops out at 2.9GHz at max­i­mum boost. The top of the line Epyc 7601 has a whop­ping 32 cores, 64 threads and a base fre­quency of 2.2GHz, with max­i­mum boost at 3.2GHz. In­tel’s Xeon chips, mean­while, have up to 24 cores.

As more and more data moves to the cloud, data cen­tre servers are put in­creas­ingly un­der stress. Adding cores to pro­ces­sors will help servers re­act quickly, for ex­am­ple, to search re­quests as well as rec­og­nize im­ages and process video faster.

But the Epyc story doesn’t stop at the num­ber of cores the pro­ces­sor of­fers. All the pro­ces­sors, up

and down the prod­uct range, of­fer eight mem­ory chan­nels sup­port­ing up to 2666MHz DDR4 DRAM, 2TB of mem­ory and 128 PCIe lanes. TDP (ther­mal de­sign power), the max­i­mum amount of heat ex­pected to be gen­er­ated by a chip, ranges from 120W at the low end of the range up to 180W for the mon­ster 32-core model.

To top it off, all of this is of­fered in a sin­gle-socket chip, which can be paired with an­other Epyc chip in a two-socket sys­tem.

At the high end, in ap­prox­i­mately the $4,000 (£TBC) range, AMD in­ter­nal bench­marks show the Epyc 7601 sin­gle-socket pack­age of­fer­ing 75 per­cent higher float­ing point per­for­mance (for spread­sheets, graph­ics and games, for in­stance) and 47 per­cent higher in­te­ger

AMD’s Epyc pro­ces­sor fam­ily ranges from eight cores to 32 cores

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