AMD Challenges Intel Datacenter Dominance

Declaring a "new era in the datacenter," AMD introduced a new server processor family last week that offers the first real challenge in years to the market dominance of Intel's Xeon processors.

The EPYC 7000 series System on Chip (SoC) design supports between 8 and 32 AMD Zen cores, with 2 high-performance threads per core. The product family also comes with a feature set the company claims will deliver greater performance than the competition across a full range of integer, floating point, memory bandwidth, and I/O benchmarks and workloads.

Flanked by customers and partners, AMD CEO Lisa Su unveiled the new processor family at a launch event in Austin, Texas. "With our EPYC family of processors, AMD is delivering industry leading performance on critical enterprise, cloud and machine intelligence workloads," Su said in a statement. "EPYC processors offer uncompromising performance for single-socket systems while scaling dual-socket server performance to new heights, outperforming the competition at every price point. We are proud to bring choice and innovation back to the datacenter with the strong support of our global ecosystem partners."

AMD is offering a range of EPYC 7000 series processors, from the entry level EPYC 7251, an 8-core, 16-thread chip with a base frequency of 2.1 GHz, to the high-end EPYC 7601, with 32 cores, 64 threads, a base frequency of 2.2 GHz, and a max boost CPU speed of 3.2 GHz.

The company claimed that its new processor line outperforms Intel's Xeon chips, citing "record-setting" internal performance test scores using the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation's SPECint computer benchmark specification. The AMD EPYC 7601-based system achieved a SPECint_rate2006 score of 2360; the EPYC 7601-based system scored 1200; and the EPYC 7601-based system scored 943.

"At every targeted price point for two-socket processors, EPYC outperforms the competition, with up to 70 percent more performance in the eight-hundred-dollar price band, and up to 47 percent more performance at the high end of the market of four thousand dollars or more," AMD claimed.

The launch event showcased a range of products from AMD partners based on the new processor series, including systems from HPE, Dell, Asus, Gigabyte, Inventec, Lenovo, Sugon, Supermicro, Tyan, and Wistron. Microsoft, Red Hat, and VMware announced optimized support for EPYC on their hypervisors. Mellanox, Samsung Electronics, and Xilinx unveiled EPYC-optimized server hardware platforms. Members of the so-called Super 7 datacenter services providers, including Baidu, Microsoft Azure, 1&1, Bloomberg, Dropbox and LexisNexis, also said they would support the new processor family.

Antonio Neri, EVP and GM of HPE's Enterprise Group, called the EPYC processor "a paradigm shift in computing" that "will user in a new era for the IT ecosystem." His company plans to support the EPYC line in its Cloudline CL3150 server, and will expand to other product lines later this year.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of Converge360.com sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at jwaters@converge360.com.