AMD throws some Epyc shade on Xeon-powered servers

During a portion of its 2017 Financial Analyst Day, AMD made a splash by officially showing its 32-core Epyc (née Naples) server chips. Each of those chips comprises four eight-core Zen units, connects up to 8 memory channels, and has 128 lanes of PCIe 3.0 connectivity.

Those specs are enticing enough on their own, but the first questions on every datacenter administrator's mind are how exactly do these CPUs perform and how exactly does AMD intend to fit them onto rack units. As it turns out, AMD isn't trying to aim cannonballs at top-end Xeon servers. Instead, the company wants to take a slice from the meaty middle of the two-socket (2S) server market, and is posing its Epyc offerings as single-socket alternatives that should hopefully deliver the same performance with much smaller boards—thereby potentially lowering cooling and power requirements.

To illustrate the point, AMD offered a demonstration of a 2S Epyc system going against two high-end Xeon E5-2699A v4 CPUs, each with 22 cores and 55 MB of cache. AMD's machine had 256 GB of RAM thanks to its eight channels, while the Intel-powered server was rolling with 128 GB. The Epyc box finished a Linux kernel compilation in 15.7 seconds, around 43% faster than the 22.5 seconds it took the Intel system.

Those figures may raise a couple eyebrows on their own, but AMD proceeded to point out that not a whole lot of systems are shipped with the mighty Xeon E5-2699A v4 onboard. According to the company, servers powered by Intel's Xeon offerings between the ES-262x and ES-265x series make up the bulk of shipments, and among those, the ES-264x series is the best seller among them. AMD proceeded to offer another demonstration, then: a single-socket Epyc system with 128 GB of RAM going up against a 2S box with Xeon ES-2650 v4 CPUs (12 cores each). For a Linux kernel compile, the Epyc system took 33.7 seconds, while the Xeon box did its work in 37.2 seconds. While this is but a single benchmark, it's nonetheless impressive and lends some credence to AMD's plan of going after two-socket systems with single-socket Epyc offerings.

AMD offered some more figures to support its case. The company says that an Epyc 1S system has "significantly" lower power consumption versus a comparable 2S Intel-powered machine and can offer a 30% lower total cost of ownership (TCO). Taking a direct jab at Intel's world-famous and world-hated product segmentation, AMD says that all Epyc CPUs are "unrestrained," meaning that the entire lineup from the lower-end model to the fanciest CPU will offer the same PCIe connectivity, all eight memory channels, the same security stack, and the same set of chipset features.

Finally, the company played up Epyc's I/O (namely those 128 PCIe lanes) as an advantage for machine learning applications (you thought you'd read an entire post without those words?) As a sample case study, AMD showed what it takes for an Intel system to drive six compute accelerator cards—two CPUs, a storage controller, two sets of eight DIMMs, and two PCIe switches. In comparison, an Epyc system would require a single CPU directly reaching out to the drives, 16 DIMM slots, and all six compute cards at once.

Only time will tell whether AMD's Epyc moves in the server space will pan out, but we're at least cautiously optimistic. After all, I can barely even remember the days when I saw "Opteron" in a text console.

Comments closed
    • AMDisDEC
    • 2 years ago

    Ms. SU is the best CEO AMD has had since Jerry Sanders!
    After dead beat female CEO’s, Carly Fiorina and Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer made female CEOs (as well as dead beats Dirk Myer & Rory Read) look like the worst possible choice a company could make, Ms. Lisa SU has saved the day and raised the standard for what a CEO should look like and perform.
    Thanks to Ms. Lisa Su, for the second time I am about to quad-triple my ROI in AMD stock.
    Lisa Su and Jen-Hsun Huang are the absolute best corporate CEOs in America.

      • chuckula
      • 2 years ago

      [quote<] I am about to quad-triple my investment in AMD stock.[/quote<] See AMD fanboys, this guy knows how to get with the program. He even increases his [s<]tithes[/s<] [u<]investments[/u<] in AMD using four dies that each triple the money.

        • AMDisDEC
        • 2 years ago

        That Lisa Su is pure genius!
        I’m not cashing in, and in for the 8 die long hurl.

      • xpentor
      • 2 years ago

      I am in the same boat with you with this one 🙂 still accumulating since $3.5!

    • Tristan
    • 2 years ago

    Intel is well prepared for any AMD loud attempts to disrupt Intel’s ominance
    [url<]https://www.techpowerup.com/233428/intel-shows-1-59x-performance-improvement-in-upcoming-intel-xeon-scalable-family[/url<] Ryzen is good to increase revenue of AMD by 10-20%, but nothing more

      • Krogoth
      • 2 years ago

      That “X1.59” figure is probably from AVX512 workloads (Ryzen architecture is currently weak at AVX). It will be closer to 5-15% gain over Broadwell-E/Broadwell-EP predecessor for most server/workstation related loads as seen with the jump from Broadwell to Skylake.

      It will be interesting to see how Skylake-E/Skylake-EP and Naples will go up against each other.

        • chuckula
        • 2 years ago

        SAP doesn’t use AVX-512.

        It’s a convoluted and nasty business ERP program (mostly a database with a whole bunch of “business logic” processing) that nobody really likes.

        Having said that, thousands of companies rely on it and getting performance boosts like that out of a new platform is nothing to sneeze at in the slightest.

          • Redocbew
          • 2 years ago

          SAP = Stop All Progress

      • blastdoor
      • 2 years ago

      It sounds like that speed increase is due to more RAM.

      Fair enough, I guess, since AMD is exploiting Intel’s RAM limitations in its benchmarking.

      More generally — Intel’s weaknesses seem to be all self-imposed as part of their market segmentation strategy. They aren’t inherent weaknesses in Intel’s designs (a big contrast to the days of Netbust and Itanic).

      So the limiting factor on AMD’s growth is how much marketshare Intel is willing to lose before they’ll start cutting prices. My guess is that Intel will part with enough marketshare to let AMD grow a fair bit more than just 10-20%. If Intel cuts prices, the revenue loss is price cut times volume of sales. Since Intel’s volume is so huge, that could be a big revenue loss. Intel might prefer to give up say 5 to 10 percentage points in marketshare if they can keep prices steady on the remaining sales. But 5 to 10 percentage points in marketshare is enormous from AMD’s point of view, given their low baseline.

    • Kurlon
    • 2 years ago

    Anyone else expecting VMWare, Microsoft, etc to count one socket as four processors for licensing on Epyc?

      • Klimax
      • 2 years ago

      Most of them already count cores, not sockets.

        • Gasaraki
        • 2 years ago

        Yeah unfortunately. New Windows server licensing is based on core counts so I recently had to drop the amount of cores i get on my new servers.

    • Forge
    • 2 years ago

    I want to know what the core to core interconnect on that bigass interposer is.

      • cygnus1
      • 2 years ago

      [url=https://www.google.com/search?q=amd+infinity+fabric&oq=amd+infi&aqs=chrome.0.0j69i57j0l4.1951j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8<] AMD Infinity Fabric[/url<]

        • psuedonymous
        • 2 years ago

        Which is a bunch of PCIe lanes ganged together. Infinity Fabric, DMI 1.0/2.0/3.0, it’s PCIe all the way down!

          • jts888
          • 2 years ago

          No, only the inter-socket xGMI links share the 12 Gbps PHYs with PCIe controllers.
          The inter-die/cross-interposer GMI links speak native Infinity Fabric, but there’s nothing publicly known yet how much that protocol follows or expands upon PCIe.

      • lezmaka
      • 2 years ago

      Graham crackers

        • DoomGuy64
        • 2 years ago

        Toothpaste and pencil lead. (graphite.) You use the pencil trick to enable the faster CCX interconnect speeds.

    • Welch
    • 2 years ago

    Man, I wish these were out already. I have 3 server upgrades/installs coming in the next few months.

    Side note, Dell server addom prices don’t just suck, they are down right a scam.

    • chuckula
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]AMD proceeded to offer another demonstration, then: a single-socket Epyc system with 128 GB of RAM going up against a 2S box with Xeon E5-2650 v4 CPUs (12 cores each). For a Linux kernel compile, the Epyc system took 33.7 seconds, while the Xeon box did its work in 37.2 seconds. While this is but a single benchmark, it's nonetheless impressive and lends some credence to AMD's plan of going after two-socket systems with single-socket Epyc offerings.[/quote<] That factor of 2.5 speedup is quite impressive. But your numbers are a little off, the AMD system finished in 15 seconds, not 33.7. Maybe Intel hired the Russians to hack AMD's slides. [quote<] After all, I can barely even remember the days when I saw "Opteron" in a text console.[/quote<] Just wait. AMD will make servers Epyc again.

      • morphine
      • 2 years ago

      [quote<]That factor of 2.5 speedup is quite impressive. But your numbers are a little off, the AMD system finished in 15 seconds, not 33.7. Maybe Intel hired the Russians to hack AMD's slides.[/quote<] The 15-second mark is for the first test, 2S vs 2S. The 33.7 mark is for 1S vs. 2S. Unless I missed something?

        • chuckula
        • 2 years ago

        No, the 2S EPYC scores are wrong too. The single socket system was 15 seconds, and the 2 socket system only 9.08 seconds.

        Epyc 2.5X faster all the way to the bank.

          • morphine
          • 2 years ago

          I think you want to take a look at these:

          [url<]https://youtu.be/590h3XIUfHg?t=6980[/url<] [url<]https://youtu.be/590h3XIUfHg?t=7221[/url<]

            • chuckula
            • 2 years ago

            As I said: Russian Hackers trying to make AMD look bad. When AMD says EPYC is 2.5X faster than any Xeon, they’re right.

      • Bumper
      • 2 years ago

      It’s all a conspiracy by the Elders of Zion…

        • UberGerbil
        • 2 years ago

        Fun fact: the “Protocols” was fabricated by the Czar’s secret service. So it all goes back to the Russians one way or another.

          • Bumper
          • 2 years ago

          I can’t keep up… just leave my bodily fluids alone damn you!

      • tay
      • 2 years ago

      You’re floundering. Despite the horrific name, I think AMD is bringing some disruption in this market. I wouldn’t want to be holding on to intel shares for many more quarters.

        • chuckula
        • 2 years ago

        Oh I sold all my Intel & AMD shares for a profit a while ago.
        I was smart enough to buy Nvidia well before it hit $100.

          • raddude9
          • 2 years ago
          • tay
          • 2 years ago

          I wish I had been greedy with nGreedia. We could all see clear as day that they were killing it in the market, but I was still in the thrall of the “post-PC world” where no one was buying GPUs anymore. Regret that mistake.

        • UberGerbil
        • 2 years ago

        [quote<]Despite the horrific name, I think AMD is bringing some disruption in this market. I wouldn't want to be holding on to intel shares for many more quarters.[/quote<] People said [i<]exactly[/i<] the same thing about Opteron in 2003. In the short term, they were sort of right. In the long term... not so much. (And before somebody points out the the price of INTC hasn't changed much, keep in mind it's a dividend play not a growth stock).

          • Flying Fox
          • 2 years ago

          [quote<](And before somebody points out the the price of INTC hasn't changed much, keep in mind it's a dividend play not a growth stock)[/quote<]And AMD is still a gambler stock to me, look at the ride over the last 2 days. Only the big sharks make money off this.

          • blastdoor
          • 2 years ago

          Yes, but. What did AMD do with the profits earned on Athlon and Opteron? Build a new fab? Invest in another great CPU design? No. They bought ATI for 5 billion.

          Hopefully the current management learned from the mistakes of the old one.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This