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Computex: AMD to release Zen-based Epyc server CPUs on 20 June

AMD has revealed at Computex that it will launch its new line of Zen-based Epyc server microprocessors on 20 June.

Code-named ‘Naples’, Epyc is intended for cloud-based and traditional on-premise data centres, and will include parts offering up to 32 physical cores and 64 threads. The launch will be supported by a number of OEM and channel partners, offering hardware based on the new line of microprocessors from AMD.

The news was released at the same time that the company revealed more details about its Ryzen desktop PC CPUs, including the Ryzen 9 ‘Threadripper’, as well as pinning down launch dates for its long-awaited Vega-based graphics cards. 

Epyc comfortably out-specs the Intel Xeon D 1500, E3-1200 v5 and E5-2600 v4, based on Broadwell and Skylake architectures, with a higher core clock speed, more gigabytes per socket, and many more PCIe 3.0 lanes for better memory bandwidth.

As with the Ryzen desktop PC line-up, AMD has been driving a coach-and-horses through behind Intel’s market segmentation strategy, that forces customers to pay a large premium for high-end features.

“Each Epyc system-on-a-chip will have the same memory bandwidth and capacity, whether in a single socket or dual socket design,” notes Tirias Research in a paper written for AMD.

It continues: “This will dramatically impact system designers’ ability to create performant single socket systems, as Intel segments their single socket and dual socket product lines by restricting single socket memory bandwidth and capacity, which has the effect of ‘upselling’ customers to dual socket designs.

“Scaling Epyc from single socket to dual socket does consume some input/output lanes. An Epyc dual socket design uses half of each system-on-a-chip’s high-speed input/output lanes to connect to the other system-on-a-chip socket. But both the single docket and dual socket Epyc motherboards support the same number of PCIe lanes.”

Epyc, suggests Tirias, will initially enable better value single-socket server options. 

The launch will mark the company’s first major foray back into servers and the data centre for almost a decade. The Opteron line of server microprocessors from AMD, first launched in 2003, found its way into an increasing number of the world’s top-100 most powerful supercomputers, peaking in 2010 and 2011 when 33 of the top-100 were powered by AMD Opteron.

However, the decline since then has been steep.

On the surface, though, Epyc offers a highly promising server architecture which, combined with AMD’s fab-less business model today, could quickly pose a challenge to incumbent Intel.

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