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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  • quorm - Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - link

    Given the range of configurations and prices here, I don't see much room for threadripper. Maybe 16 - 32 cores with higher clock speeds? Really wondering what a new threadripper can bring to the table. Reply
  • willis936 - Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - link

    A reduced feature set and lower prices, namely. Reply
  • quorm - Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - link

    Reduced in what way, though? I'm assuming threadripper will be 4 chiplets, 64 pcie lanes, single socket only. All ryzen support ecc.

    So, what can it offer? At 32 cores, 8 channel memory becomes useful for a lot of workloads. Seems like a lot of professionals would just choose epyc this time. On the other end, I don't think any gamers need more than a 3900x/3950x. Is threadripper just going to be for bragging rights?
    Reply
  • quorm - Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - link

    Sorry, forgot to add, 3950x is $750, epyc 7302p is $825. Where is threadripper going to fit? Reply
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - link

    Binned for OC? We'll find out soon enough! Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    At this point it looks like all TR will get your is "official" ECC support and more PCIe lanes. Maybe cheaper motherboards than EPYC. Reply
  • willis936 - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    Half the memory lanes (this is a big one), half the pcie lanes, max of 1 socket per mobo. Those are important features for datacenter customers and their absence from threadripper makes threadripper less desirable than epyc in the datacenter. Reply
  • rocky12345 - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    Yes but Threadripper is made for high end desktops for video editing etc etc and some gaming. I do not see the big data center guys going after TR all that much. Yes you may see some of the TR go there but that is not what TR is made for that is why we have EPYC & XEON CPU's.

    I do have to agree though where some said where does TR fit in price wise since we are going to have a 16/32 main stream desktop CPU shortly from AMD. I do also think this time around the 32/64 3990 TR will be 10x better than the older 2990 TR just from the memory controller not being in each CPU complex and in the 2990x because of bandwidth and latency from the memory performance really suffered when all cores were being used. On the 3990x (or whatever it will be called) this should not be an issue. If AMD is smart they will not release a 64/128 3000 series TR since it would have to be priced to far out of reach for even the most techy guy with money and the only ones that would have them would be review sites and YT reviewers and that would be only because them got them sent for free for reviews. 32/64 and the better memory performance as a whole for the new chips would be more than enough to make the 32/64 TR 3990x an instant success. Just my opinion of coarse and AMD will probably do something stupid and release a higher core count TR series CPU that next to no one will be able to afford just to be able to say hey we got the best high end CPU on the planet but to bad no one is gonna buy them because the price is to high but we have the best so who cares.
    Reply
  • rocky12345 - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    Oops dammit forgot to make paragraph's did not mean to have it all bunched up like that. Reply
  • Mark Rose - Friday, August 9, 2019 - link

    Why wouldn't they release a 64 core Threadripper? Assuming they double the price of the 32 core, it would be $3400. That's affordable to a lot of people working in tech, and should be affordable to just about any business that has employees waiting on their 32 core Threadripper. AMD would sell a ton.

    That being said, I wouldn't personally buy one as I don't have a need. I'd be more likely buy a 16 core 3000 series Threadripper myself.
    Reply

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