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AMD Signals Data Centre Return With EPYC Chips

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

What’s in a name? AMD raids the naming repository for Ryzen Threadripper, EPYC, and Vega chips

Chipmaker AMD has unveiled a slew of new processors as it seeks to break out from the shadow cast by rival Intel.

The new chips sees AMD solidify its return to the data centre market, as well presenting new offerings for high-end personal computers.

AMD had already signalled its data centre intentions in March when revealed new central processing units dubbed ‘Naples’, but these CPUs have now rebranded with the EPYC codename.

SamsungPerformance PCs

AMD said that its long-term strategy is to deliver technologies that can be used in the PC, immersive devices, and data centre markets.

To this end its upcoming high-performance consumer and commercial Ryzen processors are aimed at the premium PC markets, as these processors use AMD’s high-performance x86 “Zen” core architecture.

For consumer desktop PCs, AMD consulted with the marketing gods and came up with the Ryzen Threadripper name. This is a “Zen”-based CPU with up to 16-cores and 32-threads with a new platform with expanded memory and I/O bandwidth.

It is set to land in the summer of this year.

The Ryzen 3 desktop CPUs are scheduled to appear later in the year (Q3 2017), whereas the Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 should arrived in OEM PCs in the second half of the year.

For consumer notebooks, AMD has revealed the Ryzen Mobile APUs (codenamed “Raven Ridge”), which should arrive in the second half of the year and boasts a 4-core, 8-thread “Zen”-based CPU and high-performance “Vega” graphics. This, says AMD, will allow it to deliver an expected 50 percent increase in CPU performance and over 40 percent better graphics performance, at half the power of its previous generation.

For commercial PCs, AMD is offering the Ryzen PRO processors, which are designed to deliver powerful multi-threaded performance for premium business PCs with workstation-class performance, state-of-the-art silicon-level security, and reliable solutions with enterprise-class support and top-to-bottom manageability. The Ryzen PRO processor for desktops should appear in the second half of the year, whilst the Ryzen PRO mobile is planned for first half of 2018.

“Our long-term technology roadmaps position AMD to take advantage of the major shifts in the technology industry and deliver significant financial returns,” said AMD President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su.

“We are entering the next phase of our growth strategy through ramping our phenomenal new products across a diverse set of markets,” said Dr Su. “AMD is the only company with the combination of high-performance computing and graphics technologies required to deliver truly immersive and instinctive computing experiences.”

AMD also announced the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition graphics card, which is aimed at machine learning, advanced visualization and VR workloads thanks to being able to deliver an estimated 25 TFLOPS of FP16 and an estimated 13 TFLOPS of FP32 peak performance.

Data Centre

But it is perhaps AMD’s return to the data centre market with its high-performance server processors that is gathering most interest.

AMD has called its data centre offerings here ‘EPYC’, and these CPUs come with a high core count, superior memory bandwidth, and support for high-speed input/output (I/O) channels in a single chip.

“Previously codenamed ‘Naples’, this new family of high-performance processors for cloud-based and traditional on-premise data centres will deliver the highly-successful ‘Zen’ x86 processing engine scaling up to 32 physical cores,” said AMD.

The chipmaker said the first EPYC-based servers will launch in June.

“With the new EPYC processor, AMD takes the next step on our journey in high-performance computing,” said Forrest Norrod, senior VP and general manager of Enterprise, Embedded & Semi-Custom Products.

“AMD EPYC processors will set a new standard for two-socket performance and scalability,” said Norrod. “We believe that this new product line-up has the potential to reshape significant portions of the data centre market with its unique combination of performance, design flexibility, and disruptive TCO.”

AMD says its EPYC server chips comes with a highly scalable, 32-core System-on-a-chip (SoC) design, with support for two high-performance threads per core. It also boasts 8 channels of memory per EPYC device. In a dual-socket server, support for up to 32 DIMMS of DDR4 on 16 memory channels, delivering up to 4 terabytes of total memory capacity.

It also comes with a highly-optimized cache structure for high-performance, energy-efficient computing; Infinity Fabric coherent interconnect for two EPYC CPUs in a dual-socket system; and dedicated security hardware.

“Today’s single-socket server offerings push buyers toward purchasing a more expensive two-socket server just to get the memory bandwidth and I/O they need to support the compute performance of the cores,” said Matthew Eastwood, senior VP at analyst house IDC. “There are no fully-featured, high-performance server processors available today in a single-socket configuration. EPYC changes that dynamic by offering a single-processor solution that delivers the right-sized number of high-performance cores, memory, and I/O for today’s workloads.”

AMD has perhaps given itself a headstart over its bitter rival Intel, but it should be remembered that giant chipmaker will debut its new Xeon processors this year.

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