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Epyc Benchmark Battle

October 31, 2017

Author: Linley Gwennap

Now that third-party benchmark results are available, we can better assess the performance of AMD’s Epyc server processor against Intel’s Xeon Scalable (Skylake-SP). The results show Epyc outperforming the newest Xeon across a range of benchmarks; Intel still holds the highest ground, however, with its $10,000 Platinum 8180. The company also retains a lead on certain workloads, including those that require the highest per-core performance or that use AVX-512 intensively. The Xeon Platinum models enable four- and eight-socket configurations, whereas Epyc is limited to two sockets.

For mainstream server applications, particularly cloud services, Epyc is a strong performer. Furthermore, AMD has taken advantage of Intel’s high prices to offer big cost savings. The 16-core Epyc 7351, for example, performs similarly to the old Xeon E5-2680v4, a popular server processor, and to the new Xeon Gold 6130. But the AMD part lists for just $1,100, compared with $1,745 and $1,894, respectively, for the Intel parts. On the downside, the Epyc chip has a 15% higher TDP, so some of the savings are lost to electricity cost.

Given the variation across workloads, one processor is never the best solution for all tasks. This independent testing data, however, confirms that Epyc provides strong performance across many applications, including web serving, databases, compression, encryption, and software development. It appears to lag a bit on Java but is still on a par with Xeon Scalable. Epyc performs well on many HPC applications, particularly those that benefit from its superior memory bandwidth and capacity. In general, the processor fares well for workloads comprising many lightweight threads that share little data. Except for some minor firmware changes, it’s compatible with nearly all x86 server software. Data-center operators focused on performance per TCO dollar should evaluate AMD Epyc systems to assess the potential cost savings.

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