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AMD Rome Ruins Intel Hegemony

August 13, 2019

Author: Linley Gwennap

AMD’s second-generation Epyc processors beat Intel’s Xeon processors in several regards. Officially the Epyc 7002 family, the new design is the first server chip built in 7nm technology; although Intel’s 10nm process is roughly equivalent to the TSMC 7nm node, the Xeon line will remain in 14nm for at least a year. Code-named Rome, AMD’s new chips offer up to 64 cores in a single socket, more than the largest Cascade Lake Xeon. Rome is also the first server processor with PCI Express Gen4, a technology Intel plans to roll out next year in Cooper Lake. Most important, the company posted more than 80 benchmark results that show Rome outperforming Intel’s entire Cascade Lake lineup, including the bleeding-edge 56-core model.

The new AMD parts are in production now, and servers are already available from HP Enterprise, Lenovo, and others. Google has deployed production cloud services on Rome-based servers in its data centers, and Twitter plans to deploy Rome in its data centers later this year. Microsoft is previewing Rome-based virtual machines as part of its Azure cloud service, and the new processor will appear in Google Cloud instances later this year.

Rome offers multiple improvements over the original Epyc processors (code-named Naples) launched two years ago. The second-generation Zen 2 CPU core increases per-clock performance (IPC) by 15%, bringing it on par with Intel’s Cascade Lake cores. Even in 7nm, however, Rome falls short of Cascade Lake’s maximum clock speed. The shrink from 14nm reduces power; for example, a 16-core 2.4GHz Naples model has a 155W TDP, whereas a similar Rome model requires 120W, a 23% savings. Compared with Naples, Rome doubles the maximum CPU count, doubles the L3 cache per core, and doubles the bandwidth of the Infinity Fabric links between processors.

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