Computex 2017: AMD stakes its claim to the high ground
Earlier this year AMD released Ryzen, announced Epyc, unveiled its first Vega graphics card and teased a 16-core desktop chip. Yet it still managed to make some news at Computex, where it also argued the combination of its new CPUs and GPUs can deliver the best overall performance per dollar.
It's already been a big year for AMD. By the time it arrived in Taiwan, the chipmaker had already released its first Ryzen processors, announced the Epyc server line, unveiled its first Vega graphics card and teased a 16-core desktop chip dubbed Threadripper.
Even with all these new products, AMD arguably doesn't have the fastest CPU core or the fastest single GPU. But it has certainly come a long way and at its press conference the company made a solid case that the combination of its new processors and graphics--on platforms that deliver more memory bandwidth and I/O--can deliver the best overall system performance at a given price.
AMD also announced that the new Epyc processors for mainstream single- and dual-socket servers will be available worldwide starting June 20. The company's pitch for Epyc, with up to 32 cores and 64 threads, is simple--more cores, more memory bandwidth and greater I/O than Xeon E5 processors at the same price. Su reiterated the company's strategy to offer cheaper single-socket servers with equivalent or higher core counts, memory bandwidth and I/O than the competing Xeon dual-socket servers used in nearly all datacenters. "Epyc wins on performance, Epyc wins on power, Epyc wins on total cost of ownership," Su claimed.
She also talked about how the new Vega graphics will be important not only for gaming and professional visualization, but also GPU compute. The Radeon Vega Frontier Edition, with up to 25 teraflops of performance, will be available starting June 27. "It's not really about just the CPU or just the GPU. It's putting Epyc and Radeon together in a system that delivers breakthrough performance," Su said.
AMD demonstrated a PC with a Threadripper processor and four Radeon Vega Frontier Edition GPUs running Blender with the Radeon Pro plug-in to render changes to a very complex design in near real-time with all 32 CPU cores utilized. In a move that is sure to disappoint gamers, AMD did not announce the consumer Radeon RX Vega graphics card; instead it said the card will launch at SIGGRAPH at the end of July. But AMD did demonstrated a Threadripper system with dual Radeon RX Vega cards running Prey, a new first-person shooter developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda, at the maximum quality settings.
Of course, the competition isn't standing still. Intel is now promising bigger gains from Coffee Lake later this year, Skylake-X leapfrogs Threadripper in core count, and Skylake-EP Xeons are already shipping to certain customers such as Google. Similarly Vega closes the gap with the Tesla P100 and GeForce GTX 1080, but Nvidia has already announced the Tesla V100 and consumer versions of Volta won't be far behind. But AMD's Computex press event left little doubt that the company is now in the game. "There is no doubt that he market is a lot more exciting than it was one or two years ago because competition is very, very good for the ecosystem," Su said. "The best is yet to come."