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



View All Comments

  • npz - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    Let me tell you: Lockheed? Linux Raytheon? Linux + Solaris, etc Aerospace Corp? Linux. You won't find Windows ANYWHERE but desktops and laptops. All confidential info and actual aerospace work resides on Linux and legacy Solaris systems.

    Big gov or Telcom? Linux and legacy Solaris. HPC? ALL -- ALL Linux. Big database? All linux. Storage? Linux. Virtualization needs? All Linux. What does Rackspace run? I've worked on and for (2nd hand as dev. engineering support) big -- I mean giant state infrastructure (think electrical grid), financial (banks, trading) and aerospace and computing corp enviornement and every single one runs Linux and/or legacy Solaris (after they moved from AIX usually, now they're moving from Solaris to Linux)

    Again you mention Active Directory -- what did I say? I stated: "companies use Windows because of familiarity for desktop support such as Active Directory for domains, but none of major critical data center centric, HPC, military, infrastructure are running Windows. Most especially not with EPYC since the Windows scheduler is broken. "

    Go outside any Active Directory needs and servers that needs to support RDP or Windows dekstops you will see Windows isn't used anywhere else
  • npz - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link


    Aerospace Corp:
    "Space Vehicle Modeling & Simulation Engineer"
    > Familiarity with Linux and high-performance computing environments
    "Data Scientist"
    > Working knowledge of Unix/Linux operating systems

    Citi Group:
    "Infrastructure Solutions Engineer"
    > Must have good understanding of Linux and networking concepts
    "Senior Data Engineer - Hadoop, VP"
    > Hands on experience with open source software platforms Linux
  • Oliseo - 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. "

    Working on reception will most likely be the reason for coming to that assumption, so we can go easy on you. It's an easy mistake to make.
  • James5mith - Tuesday, August 13, 2019 - link

    FreeIPA works pretty well for us. Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    if you run an industrial strength RDBMS (Oracle, DB2, and even SS) you run on some variant of linux. Reply
  • AlyxSharkBite - Friday, August 9, 2019 - link

    NPZ, I’d say you should do some fact checking before you make a broad statement. AWS allows you to choose your OS there’s a lot of Windows Servers there. The Department of Defense uses a lot of Windows Servers see a 2016 article (

    Also here’s a handy graph on server os market share a little old but numbers won’t change that much. Notice *nix only have about 20% of the market. The other 80% is Windows Server
  • Bonez0r - Wednesday, August 14, 2019 - link

    Wasn't the Windows scheduler fixed in a Windows update two months ago?
  • Jorsher - Tuesday, September 3, 2019 - link

    NPZ - what are you talking about? I work on a military network spanning 10+ countries and tens of thousands of users and computers. The enterprise runs on Windows, with specific cases running in RHEL. I'm a fan of *nix but quit drinking the kool-aid. Windows still owns a rather large portion of the market and I don't see it changing any time soon. Reply
  • Deshi! - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    I work as an application engineer for a major global finance company that develops and hosts banking and e-commerce software used by banks and major shopping outlets. 90% of all our servers are either Linux or AIX mainly running websphere or standalone Java instances. We only have a handful of Windows servers, mainly for stuff like active directory and Outlook/ SharePoint. So yeah allot of it depends on the use case, but allot of the big boys do use Linux or AIX. It's cheaper and performs better for these use cases. Reply
  • cyberguyz - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    I guess we all have to ask ourselves, who are the customers that would benefit most from a 64-core, 128 gen 4 PCIe processors? SMB or huge customers that would shell out many millions of $$$ for their middleware & backend systems? @Deshi! I or one of my L3 colleagues an L3 engineer contacted by your global finance company to fix Websphere problems some years back ;) Reply

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