First Impressions

Due to bad luck and timing issues we have not been able to test the latest Intel and AMD servers CPU in our most demanding workloads. However, the metrics we were able to perform shows that AMD is offering a product that pushes out Intel for performance and steals the show for performance-per-dollar.

For those with little time: at the high end with socketed x86 CPUs, AMD offers you up to 50 to 100% higher performance while offering a 40% lower price. Unless you go for the low end server CPUs, there is no contest: AMD offers much better performance for a much lower price than Intel, with more memory channels and over 2x the number of PCIe lanes. These are also PCIe 4.0 lanes. What if you want more than 2 TB of RAM in your dual socket server? The discount in favor of AMD just became 50%. 

We can only applaud this with enthusiasm as it empowers all the professionals who do not enjoy the same negotiating power as the Amazons, Azure and other large scale players of this world. Spend about $4k and you get 64 second generation EPYC cores. The 1P offerings offer even better deals to those with a tight budget.

So has AMD done the unthinkable? Beaten Intel by such a large margin that there is no contest? For now, based on our preliminary testing, that is the case. The launch of AMD's second generation EPYC processors is nothing short of historic, beating the competition by a large margin in almost every metric: performance, performance per watt and performance per dollar.  

Analysts in the industry have stated that AMD expects to double their share in the server market by Q2 2020, and there is every reason to believe that AMD will succeed. The AMD EPYC is an extremely attractive server platform with an unbeatable performance per dollar ratio. 

Intel's most likely immediate defense will be lowering their prices for a select number of important customers, which won't be made public. The company is also likely to showcase its 56-core Xeon Platinum 9200 series processors, which aren't socketed and only available from a limited number of vendors, and are listed without pricing so there's no firm determination on the value of those processors. Ultimately, if Intel wanted a core-for-core comparison here, we would have expected them to reach out and offer a Xeon 9200 system to test. That didn't happen. But keep an eye out on Intel's messaging in the next few months.

As you know, Ice lake is Intel's most promising response, and that chip will be available somewhere in the mid of 2020. Ice lake promises 18% higher IPC, eight instead of six memory channels and should be able to offer 56 or more cores in reasonable power envelope as it will use Intel's most advanced 10 nm process. The big question will be around the implementation of the design, if it uses chiplets, how the memory works, and the frequencies they can reach.

Overall, AMD has done a stellar job. The city may be built on seven hills, but Rome's 8x8-core chiplet design is a truly cultural phenomenon of the semiconductor industry.

We'll be revisiting more big data benchmarks through August and September, and hopefully have individual chip benchmark reviews coming soon. Stay tuned for those as and when we're able to acquire the other hardware.

Can't wait? Then read our interview with AMD's SVP and GM of the Datacenter and Embedded Solutions Group, Forrest Norrod, where we talk about Napes, Rome, Milan, and Genoa. It's all coming up EPYC.

An Interview with AMD’s Forrest Norrod: Naples, Rome, Milan, & Genoa

HPC: NAMD
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  • cyberguyz - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    I was also a senior software engineer (retired after 30 years) supporting mostly fortune 1000 companies. I have to tell you that the the vast majority ones I have dealt with use a mixed server environment of Windows server, Linux (RHEL), zLinux, and AIX along with Java as the language of choice along with Javascript as the web interface language. This experience comes from digging through their heap and system dumps, poring through thousands of lines of server source code and building/releasing middleware server development software for those companies. Except for those on zLinux the rest are on multiprocessor x86 systems. Reply
  • Null666666 - Friday, August 9, 2019 - link

    Hardly, but then what do I know, only been tuing corporate large scale databases since 91..

    Linux is for any scale any size.

    Friends don't let friends do windows. Admittedly, it's gotten better. But for high available you just can't do "the windows solution", power off power on.
    Reply
  • sleepeeg3 - Friday, August 9, 2019 - link

    Um... is your background in Windows Server? That might skew your bias. Reply
  • eek2121 - Saturday, August 10, 2019 - link

    This is 100% false, even Microsoft themselves has stated as much. Linux owns the internet. Windows owns the office. Reply
  • Vatharian - Saturday, August 17, 2019 - link

    Not every server in existence is meant to carry and forward mails from accounting to marketing. Most of IT in non-IT focused enterprises are indeed meant as office backend will run WS, but virtually every single workhorse beside that will be Linux running. Between hosting, compute and big data Windows has no place simply because of too high overhead, no flexibility on low level optimization, and extremely high cost of initial driver development. I.e. hardware my company makes (specialized accelerators) has 3x time to market on Windows platform. We now shift to FPGA, and we dropped support for Windows, because of bugs that our vendor can't fix for months. Not to mention, that some of our clients run IBM, therefore, Linux. Reply
  • healthymosquito - Wednesday, October 2, 2019 - link

    Being part of a 10 figure company's infrastructure team, I can say that what you are saying it patently false for electronics Manufacturing. Sure Windows has most of the office desktops, but all engineer stations, as well as all heavy lifting servers in my corp run Linux globally, That isn't counting our 100% Linux AWS and Google Cloud presense. Having worked in hosting recently as a side gig, Web presence for Windows is just as dismal. No one is paying money for an IIS server or MSQL to run websites. Windows numbers on the Internet are extremely low. Reply
  • nobodyblog - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    Windows is used in military..
    Additionally, about Java, I doubt it is as good as .Net even in 2019. And Linux is norm in Big Companies OR embedded market only. Medium/small size are all on Windows - FACT. Additionally, there is no real Antivirus for Linux, and opensource softwares aren't very reliable..

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • Arnulf - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    Antivirus? How old are you?

    I work for a small/medium business (8 figures in EUR) and we have same usage profile as described by Deshi - Linux is running all our key stuff while we have a lone Windows server for AD and related crap.
    Reply
  • FreckledTrout - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    Say what no Antivirus for Linux? Two I know of in use at corporations right now are ESET and Trendmicro. Reply
  • zmatt - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    Completely baseless claims. I have worked large scale government and military IT and Windows servers are the most common by far. There were some Linux but they we a minority. Where you see Linux thrive in servers is cloud providers and in companies that provide primarily web based products. Microsoft even offers their own Linux options through Azure, and everyone knows about AWS and their own totally-not-a-ripoff-of-RHEL distro. But Cloud infrastructure doesn't have to be Windows, people dont use it for the same thing usually.

    Linux still doesn't have an equivalent to Active Directory and that has been in my experience one of the largest infrastructure uses in self hosted environments. Domain controllers and servers that support them made up and continue to make up the bulk. Until Linux has a competitor to it (and I doubt they will because most Linux devs refuse to "copy" anything Microsoft does) then Windows servers will stick around.
    Reply

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