Advanced Micro Devices showed as many as two dozen systems using Epyc 7000, the server processor family it released today. The launch reignites competition in one of the most lucrative sectors of Intel’s x86 business.
AMD announced nine Epyc processors, using its Zen x86 core to deliver 23–70% more performance than Intel’s 14-nm Broadwell parts across a range of benchmarks. All support eight 2,666-MHz DDR 4 channels and 128 PCI Express Gen 3 lanes, compared to about four memory channels and 40 PCIe lanes in the average Xeon.
The chips arrive as Intel is about to roll out its first 10-nm Xeon chips based on its Skylake architecture. Some Epyc parts “could still be ahead of Intel’s coming generation, but not as much,” said Nathan Brookwood, principal of market watcher Insight64.
“AMD’s Epyc has a very real opportunity to disrupt Intel’s two-socket server cash machine,” said Kevin Krewell, senior analyst at Tirias Research. “Intel has controlled that market well and has been able to protect its position while slowly increasing its ASPs.”
The dual-threaded Epyc processors range from eight-core chips drawing 120 W at 2.1 GHz to 32-core chips drawing 180 W at 2.2 GHz. Because of their hefty complement of memory and I/O, a single-socket Epyc server may be adequate for some users who needed two-socket Xeon servers.
“Intel artificially constrained what they do with a single socket, so if you needed a lot of memory and I/O, you needed two Xeon chips,” said Brookwood.
The new chips cover the current Xeon price range from $400 to $4,000, with AMD aiming to give users more performance at existing price points. They use four small die in a system-in-package, enabling higher yields and, thus, lower costs than Intel’s generally larger monolithic chips.
An Intel spokesman said the company expects with its upcoming Skylake family "to continue offering the highest core and system performance versus AMD. AMD’s approach of stitching together four desktop die in a processor is expected to lead to inconsistent performance and other deployment complexities in the data center.”
The chips are AMD’s second major volley in renewed x86 competition with Intel. It announced high-end desktop chips in February and, later this year, is expected to announce notebook versions.
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