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Epyc Relaunches AMD Into Servers

June 27, 2017

Author: Jag Bolaria

AMD has reentered the server-processor market by delivering Epyc, finally providing a credible alternative to Intel’s dominant Xeon family. The new processor (code-named Naples) uses the same Zen CPU design as AMD’s recently launched Ryzen PC processors, but it offers more cores and unique server features. The top-of-the-line Epyc 7601 has 32 CPUs—far more than any current Xeon—and delivers greater performance. Epyc also provides twice the memory bandwidth and far more I/O bandwidth than the Xeon E5.

AMD released nine versions in its Epyc 7000-series to compete with the entire Xeon E5v4-2xxx lineup, which represents most server-processor sales. Like the Xeon E5v4, Epyc also enables single- and dual-socket configurations. It’s a massive improvement from AMD’s previous Opteron server processors, and more than 30 customers have already adopted the new design.

In its previous “Bulldozer” generation, AMD took the risky approach of developing a two-headed microarchitecture. For Epyc and Zen, it stuck to the basics while scaling up the core count and bandwidth. Zen boosts IPC by 52% compared with Bulldozer and can reach turbo speeds exceeding 3.0GHz in GlobalFoundries’ 14nm FinFET process.

AMD can’t compete against Intel for all server opportunities, but Epyc will win some designs thanks to its leading memory bandwidth, competitive performance, and better value, as we expect AMD will offer lower prices than Intel. Major OEMs and data centers will welcome a second x86 supplier. The first Epyc products have a 120W or greater TDP, limiting the available opportunities but allowing the company to establish a beachhead (or improve its position) in the server market. Later in 2017, we expect it to launch lower-power Epyc processors, which will expand its available market to include web servers, storage systems, appliances, and other new applications.

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