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

  • PeachNCream - Friday, August 9, 2019 - link

    The fact that AMD released a product that breaks even HStewart's ability to defend shill for Intel should say something pretty epic about Epyc. Reply
  • Lord of the Bored - Saturday, August 10, 2019 - link

    You ain't lyin' there. Seems the name was chosen well. Reply
  • Korguz - Saturday, August 10, 2019 - link

    i bet, he would STILL but the intel cpu too. even though it costs more, slower and probably uses more power. Reply
  • Samus - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    I was just thinking if Trump doesn't crash the market with his shenanigans then AMD could be an incredibly good buy in the next few months. The first time they've been a good buy in awhile.

    Although a lot of my daytrader friends have always claimed AMD was a good short-term buy, which is partially true, but if they can keep momentum and Intel doesn't try strongarming them out of OEMs (you know, like they used too...)
  • Zoolook - Saturday, August 10, 2019 - link

    It's been a pretty good investment for me, bought at 8$ two years ago, seems like I'll keep it for a while longer. Reply
  • CheapSushi - Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - link

    It's might say.... even EPYC. Reply
  • abufrejoval - Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - link

    Hard to believe a 64 core CPU can be had for the price of a used middle class car or the price of four GTX 2080ti.

    Of course once you add 2TB of RAM and as many PCIe 4 SSDs as those lanes will feed, it no longer feels that affordable.

    There is a lot of clouds still running ancient Sandy/Ivy Bridge and Haswell CPUs: I guess replacing those will eat quite a lot of chips.

    And to think that it's the very same 8-core part that powers the engire range: That stroke of simplicity and genius took so many years of planning ahead and staying on track during times when AMD was really not doing well. Almost makes you believe that corporations owned by share holders can actually sometimes actually execute a strategy, without Facebook type voting rights.

    Raising my coffee mug in a salute!
  • schujj07 - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    Sandy Bridge maxed out at 8c/16t.
    Ivy Bridge maxed out at 15c/30t.
    Haswell maxed out at 18c/36t.
    That means that a single socket Epyc 64c/128t can give you more CPU cores than a quad socket Sandy Bridge (32c/64t) or Ivy Bridge (60c/120t) and only a few less cores that a quad socket Haswell (72c/144t).
  • Eris_Floralia - Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - link

    This is what we've all been waiting for! Reply
  • Eris_Floralia - Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - link

    Thank you for all the work! Reply

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