AMD EPYC Rome: The Fall of the Intel Empire

AMD EPYC Rome: The Fall of the Intel Empire

More cores, more threads, new process... LESS MONEY. That's EPYC.

@anthony256
Published Fri, Aug 9 2019 10:30 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Jun 16 2020 4:31 PM CDT

Introduction: All Roads Lead To Rome

AMD has just launched its next-gen EPYC Rome CPUs under the new Zen 2 architecture, and boy are there some serious improvements here that is going to drive AMD's market share in the datacenter, and beyond.

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The new EPYC family of CPUs are made on the same 7nm node that AMD is using on its new Ryzen 3000 series of processors as well as the new Navi-based Radeon RX 5700 XT and RX 5700. Since the new EPYC Rome chips are made on the Zen 2 architecture we have a nice 15% IPC improvement just to start things off.

AMD's new EPYC 7742 in Dr. Lisa Su's own words becomes the highest performance x86 processor in the world.

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A refresher course on the new Zen 2 architecture and 7nm node.

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EPYC Rome Family of CPUs

EPYC Rome CPU Product Stack

It all starts with the EPYC 7252 at the bottom of the stack, as an 8C/16T chip, 120W TDP, CPU clocks of 3.1/3.2GHz for base and boost, respectively. It has just 64MB of L3 cache compared to the 128-256MB on the other CPUs in the EPYC Rome stack of chips.

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But at the top we have that glorious EPYC 7742 with its beasty 64C/128T of brute CPU performance, with a 225W TDP, 256MB of L3 cache (!!!) and 2.25/3.4GHz base and boost CPU clocks, respectively.

All of the new second-gen EPYC processors have 8-channel DDR4 support at up to 3200MHz, and an insane (and game-changing) 128 PCIe 4.0 lanes.

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The 1P list of CPUs is shorter, but there's options for everything here from 8C/16T right through to the 64C/128T in the EPYC 7702P.

Dominating Intel with Record Breaking Performance

The new EPYC Rome CPUs absolutely demolish the benchmark charts, with Serve the Home running some benchmarks on the new 7nm-based Zen 2-powered EPYC Rome 7742. Hell, the site even ran a quad-socket Intel CPU in order to balance out the benchmark charts, that's how good AMD's new EPYC 7742 is.

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I mean look at those charts... a single EPYC 7742 destroys everything, while a dual-socket EPYC 7742 rig is absolutely ridiculous. With two of the EPYC 7742 chips we're looking at 128C/256T, something you can't do without going to more cores with an Intel Xeon solution -- and even then, the power numbers are crazy on a quad-socket Xeon rig.

It's Not Just Raw Performance, Power Savings Are Also Important

AMD has multiple great things going for it with the new EPYC Rome CPUs, with the direction the company went with its Chiplet design wins, the Zen 2 architecture and the new 7nm node. All of this culminates into something quite amazing... and something Intel should be, and is definitely scared of.

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According to Serve the Home, Intel "pressured" OEMs to obfuscate the power consumption reality of the new EPYC processors. STH reports: "We are also not allowed to name because Intel put pressure on the OEM who built it to have AMD not disclose this information, despite said OEM having their logo emblazoned all over the system. Yes, Intel is going to that level of competitive pressure on its industry partners ahead of AMD's launch..."

STH continues: "The TDP of the AMD EPYC 7702P is higher than the Intel Xeon E5-2630 V4's, but when you are replacing 6-8 sockets to 1 socket, the power savings are absolutely immense. We have not seen 6:1 consolidation ratios in under 2.5 years of technology advancement happen in the industry".

See that bit there... STH writes "We have not seen 6:1 consolidation ratios in under 2.5 years of technology advancement happen in the industry". That is one of the most important parts of the new EPYC processors... AMD has achieved something previously thought impossible, especially with the absolute dominance of Intel over the past few decades.

STH isn't alone, with AnandTech chiming in that the new second-gen EPYC Rome CPUs are "nothing short of historic". AT adds that the new EPYC Rome chips "beating the competition by a large margin in almost every metric: performance, performance per watt and performance per dollar".

Winning Big Datacenter Clients

This Is The Important Part

AMD has been chasing this goal since the first-gen EPYC processor, and now that the second-gen EPYC Rome CPUs are finally here it is being realized. Most large datacenter and server clients won't change to a totally new platform in its first revision, and while the first-gen EPYC was great... we need to see the market stabilize and support the new EPYC ecosystem.

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The introduction of the new Zen 2-based second-gen EPYC processors has seen adoption with major datacenters and servers, with both Google and Twitter to both throw their weight behind EPYC Rome-powered servers.

Google has said that it's using EPYC processors in its internal datacenters and cloud computing, while Twitter announced it is working with AMD on new EPYC-powered servers.

There's an EPYC Amount Of Money on the Line

Intel's entire server business is worth somewhere between $18-20 billion per year, while AMD's entire business (not just the server business) is worth $6-7 billion per year. AMD's entire business includes everything CPU (Ryzen, Threadripper, EPYC), everything GPU (gaming Radeon, datacenter Radeon), semi-custom (Microsoft, Sony with Xbox and PlayStation SoCs).

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According to analysts, AMD is expected to claw a small, but holy-hell-is-it-significant 10% of the server market share. This would be a huge deal as then-CEO of Intel in 2018, Brian Krzanich, said it was "Intel's job to not let AMD capture 15-20% market share".

20% of the server market could be worth another $4 billion per year to AMD, adding over 50% to their revenue in a year is a big, big deal. The world can now see just how serious AMD is about the server market, and it's not all smoke and mirrors like some think it is. AMD isn't "back" to the server business, it's going to re-define it.

EPYC Rome CPU Reviews + Final Thoughts

EPYC Rome CPU Reviews

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A few tech sites have gotten their grubby mits on the new EPYC Rome CPUs, with some dual-CPU configurations tested resulting in an insane 128C/256T of total CPU power. Phoronix, AnandTech, and Hexus all have reviews posted on the new EPYC Rome CPUs, some links for your nerd-out reading pleasure:

Phoronix

AnandTech

Hexus

Final Thoughts

I'm not a server CPU reviewer, but rather a technology-obsessed enthusiast. From my perspective, AMD has a total game-changer on its hands (something I've believed from the very day EPYC and Zen architecture were announced).

It wasn't just a road to recovery for AMD, but rather a total rebirth from the inside out. It has one of the largest tech companies in the world (Intel, in case you didn't work it out) shaking in their boots. It has seen Dr. Lisa Su turned into a celebrity (and rightfully so), and another ass-kicking against Intel with its new Ryzen 3000 series desktop CPUs dominating sales and winning gamers hearts over.

The next 12-24 months are going to be very interesting for AMD, as we will see EPYC Rome continue to win contracts in more and more servers and designs. The server CPU market share will continue to expand for AMD which sits at around 3% right now, and another tripling to 10% is expected. Just 12 months ago AMD didn't even have 1% of the server market, so to be at 3% at the eve of second-gen EPYC is... well... EPYC.

Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

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