AMD's Naples platform prepares to take Zen into the datacenter

— 7:00 AM on March 7, 2017

Now that the Zen core is out of the gate in consumer systems aboard Ryzen CPUs, AMD is launching its fight to retake data-center market share this morning with more details of the configurations and performance of its Naples server platform. The company is demonstrating Naples at the Open Compute Summit this week in Santa Clara, California.

Built around 32 of AMD's Zen cores, each Naples CPU offers 64 threads of compute capacity, eight memory channels, and 128 PCI Express 3.0 lanes from each socket. AMD says that in a two-socket configuration, a Naples server will offer more cores, more memory capacity, higher memory frequencies, and more PCIe lanes than a competing two-socket Intel server built around a pair of 22-core Xeon E5-2699A v4 CPUs.

In a two-socket configuration, Naples CPUs will devote 128 of their lanes of collective PCIe connectivity to AMD's Infinity Fabric interconnect. That still leaves 128 PCIe 3.0 lanes for connections to as many as 24 NVMe SSDs or other PCIe devices in a two-socket system. Among other benefits, AMD says the Infinity Fabric allows it to offer deterministic quality-of-service to VMs, establish roots of trust, perform secure boot operations, and more.

Specs are one thing, but everybody loves a good performance demonstration more. AMD pitted a Naples server against a two-socket Broadwell-E server with the same pair of Xeon E5-2699A v4 CPUs described above. The company chose a seismic analysis workload to demonstrate Naples' computing prowess, and the results seem promising. See for yourself in the following videos.

The first demonstration shows the Naples system running with 44 cores enabled, on par with the Broadwell-E system. Core for core, the Naples server completed this seismic analysis job in half the time needed by the Broadwell-E box.

With all 64 of its cores enabled, the Naples box shaved a few more seconds off its already commanding victory over the Broadwell-E system.

Finally, AMD increased the sample set size in its workload from one billion to four billion, at which point the Broadwell-E server couldn't even load the working set.

Another ideal use for Naples servers could be the creation of Radeon Instinct compute appliances. In a dual-socket Naples server, up to four Radeon Instinct cards per socket would each enjoy up to 16 lanes of PCIe 3.0 connectivity direct to the CPU. Those cards could then be used for applications like virtual desktop infrastructure delivery or machine-learning tasks.

We saw a Naples reference system along with the demonstrations above at AMD's Ryzen tech day just under two weeks ago. AMD says Naples servers will be available starting in the second quarter of this year.

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