AMD's EPYC server chips beat Intel Xeon 2-socket performance at every price point

Whether you're spending $400 or $4,000, AMD's EPYC is wiping the floor with the Intel Xeon chips.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Today sees AMD unveiled the first generation of EPYC server processors, chips built using the Zen architecture.

And they're going to give Intel a real run for its money.

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The processors that have been unveiled range from the 2.1/2.9GHz eight-core, 16-thread chip EPYC 7251, to the 2.2/3.2GHz 32-core, 64-thread behemoth EPYC 7601.

AMD Epyc line up

Now there's a lot to EPYC, so much so that I will pull together a deeper dive later this week, but the one standout feature of the new platform is how it can beat a 2-socket Intel Xeon setup in every price point from $400 to $4,000, with the gap between EPYC and Xeon ranging from 23 percent to a whopping 70 percent.

AMD Epyc performance

It is, however, important to note that the comparison here is being bate to Intel Broadwell Xeons, and that Skylake-based Xeons are slated to launch later this year.

EPYC's dies are all connected together internally using a technology called Infinity Fabric -- think enhanced HyperTransport - which is used to both connect the chips bidirectionally in a processor at 42GB/s, and between the two sockets at 38GB/s bidirectional (connecting between sockets has more error-checking overhead, hence the lower bandwidth).

AMD Epyc Infinity Fabric
AMD Epyc Infinity Fabric

Each EPYC processor package can support up to 2TB of DDR4 RAM over eight channels, and has 128 PCIe lanes. 2-socket EPYC also have 128 PCIe lanes -- not 256 -- because each chip uses 64 lanes for the Infinity Fabric interconnect.

Just having AMD re-enter the server market in such a big and meaningful way, and swinging punches again, is good for enterprise, especially the big names in the cloud business. Competition drives down costs, and AMD will be seen as a much-needed counter-pressure to what has become a market dominated by Intel and Nvidia.

AMD's EPYC: Everything you need to know

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