October 21, 2020

AMD launches feature-packed EPYC to take on rival Intel

Five years in the works, the EPYC boasts of 32 cores, comprising four octa-core chips clubbed together providing up to 2TB of memory per processing unit and 128 connect lines for input and output to peripheral devices. AMD has fortressed the processor by adding a hardware-level layer of encryption that will codify all of its memory. The EPYC, analysts say, will boost competition in the server space and provide a valuable alternative to Intel’s Xeon processors.

For the company, which has been on a refreshed business strategy under CEO Lisa Su, the rejuvenation of its datacentre processor business marks an inflection point. The company had set out to focus on a product roadmap based on its Zen architecture that leverages the x86 microprocessor core. The datacentre drive coincides with its efforts to rev up its desktop business with the Ryzenbranded range and products on the gaming front. All said, the success of EPYC is crucial for AMD to revive fortunes in a high-margin business.According to data provided by market research firm IDC, AMD’s market share plunged from nearly 25% in 2006 to 0.4% IN 2016 even as Intel grew its share from three-fourths of the market to 99.4%.

“The single largest bet for our company is the success in the datacentre market,” Su said. She was speaking at a product launch event in Austin Texas last week, revealing finer details of the EPYC and announcing adoption by prominent players in the industry like HP Enterprise and Dell EMC. The company also arrayed a slew of other takers like Mi crosoft, Vmwa re, Xilinx, RedHat, Asus, Lenovo, Samsung Electronics, Chinese search engi ne Baidu and others.

AMD has said the top end of the EPYC 7000 at over $4,000 outperforms competition with a margin of 47% while the affordable range at around $800 offers a 70% uptick against the peers. Intel’s Xeon family of server processors is a target for AMD.

The company said its single-socket server, meaning a server running on asingle processing unit, can outpace the dual-socket Intel E5 2660 v4 dual socket. Top executives of AMD believe they have struck gold by developing single-socket systems with a lot of computing power which can result in capital expenditure savings for customers who go dual socket just for the memory bandwidth they provide.

Two technology areas that AMD has invested in innovation with EPYC has been power usage and the one it has used to connect processor units -the Infinity Fabric, which allows information flow between the computing units in a flexible way to raise the level of processing.

As for power, the EPYC has the abi lity to reduce voltage to slow processing units and fe ed more watts to the ones that work. Sam Naffriger, corporate fellow at AMD, said: “Highly in tensive workloads [applications] may wake up cores and make them run at high frequencies. In a worklo are power management ad aware power management design, voltage can be set to each cores just to the level necessary – the slowest gets the voltage it deserves and the fastest gets more.”

Analysts see the AMD market reentry as a formidable move and sees competition rearing up for a response. Shane Rau, research vice-president, Computing Semiconductors at IDC, said: “It has a feel similar to April 2003 when AMD launched the Opteron range in April 2003. At that point they were pretty much where they are now, a re-entry, the new zero in terms of market share. There was a big validation and they got the major OEMs. This time, it seems as much or even more promising. It seems they are poised to a quick movement to some level of market-share.”