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AMD Embeds Epyc 3000

February 27, 2018

Author: Tom R. Halfhill

After successfully introducing its Zen-based processors for desktops, laptops, and servers, AMD is now pushing Zen into the embedded market. The new Epyc Embedded 3000 family, code-named Snowy Owl, adds 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) and south-bridge interfaces to the PC chips that rejuvenated the company’s fortunes last year. AMD also guarantees 10-year availability for the embedded models, which are pin compatible across the eight-member family.

Epyc Embedded processors derive from the eight-core Zeppelin die in Ryzen Threadripper but add south-bridge interfaces to the die. Four models combine two of these die in the same package, and the other four have one die. To maximize production yields, several models disable some of the Zen cores and the dual threading. Thus, the family members have 4, 8, 12, or 16 CPUs and 4-32 threads. Ranking among the most powerful SoCs on the market, they’re suited to networking and communications infrastructure, data-center storage, PC-like embedded systems, and other applications that need strong performance.

Security features inherited from the PC and server processors are a major selling point. They include cryptography extensions, hardware offloads for cryptography and data compression, secure boot supervised by an integrated microcontroller, hardware-based memory encryption, and stricter task isolation. This last feature can allow some embedded systems to accept untrusted content or software without compromising the system’s core functions. For example, a digital kiosk could safely run third-party advertising.

Some of these features—particularly memory encryption—distinguish Epyc Embedded from Intel’s embedded processors and from nearly all RISC-based SoCs. Only Broadcom offers similar memory encryption. Although the Xeon family has superior single- and multithread performance, AMD is undercutting its list prices. All of the Epyc Embedded models are scheduled to begin production next quarter.

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