AMD Poses ‘Major Challenge’ to Intel’s Server Leadership

Rob Enderle reports on the excitement at AMD’s Epyc processor launch in San Francisco:

I’ve been at a lot of AMD events, and up until this one, the general message was that AMD was almost as good as Intel but not as expensive. This year it is very different; Intel has stumbled badly, and AMD is moving to take the leadership role in the data center, so its message isn’t that it is nearly as good but cheaper anymore; it is that it has better customer focus, better security and better performance. Intel’s slip really was around trust, and as Intel seemed to abandon the processor segment, OEMs and customers lost faith, and AMD is capitalizing on that slip…

AMD has always been relatively conservative, but Lisa Su, AMD’s CEO, stated that the company has broken 80 performance records and that this new processor is the highest-performing one in the segment. This is one thing Lisa’s IBM training helps validate; I went through that training myself and, at IBM, you aren’t allowed to make false claims. AMD isn’t making a false claim here. The new Epyc 2 is 64 cores and 128 threads and with PCIe generation 4, it has 128 lanes on top its 7nm technology, which currently also appears to lead the market. Over the years the average performance for the data center chips, according to Su, has improved around 15% per year. The last generation of Epyc exceeded this when it launched, but just slightly. This new generation blows the curve out; instead of 15% year-over-year improvement, it is closer to 100%…

Intel has had a number of dire security problems that it didn’t disclose in timely fashion, making their largest customers very nervous. AMD is going after this vulnerability aggressively and pointing to how they’ve uniquely hardened Epyc 2 so that customers that use it have few, if any, of the concerns they’ve had surrounding Intel parts. Part of this is jumping to more than 500 unique encryption keys tied to the platform.

Besides Google and Twitter, AMD’s event also included announcements from Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Dell, Cray, Lenovo, and Microsoft Azure. For example, Hewlett Packard Enterprise has three systems immediately available with AMD’s new processor, the article reports, with plan to have 9 more within the next 12 months. And their CTO told the audience that their new systems have already broken 37 world performance records, and “attested to the fact that some of the most powerful supercomputers coming to market will use this processor, because it is higher performing,” calling them the most secure in the industry and the highest-performing.

“AMD came to play in San Francisco this week,” Enderle writes. “I’ve never seen it go after Intel this aggressively and, to be frank, this would have failed had it not been for the massive third-party advocacy behind Epyc 2. I’ve been in this business since the mid-’80s, and I’ve never seen this level of advocacy for a new processor ever before. And it was critical that AMD set this new bar; I guess this was an extra record they set, but AMD can legitimately argue that it is the new market leader, at least in terms of both raw and price performance, in the HPC in the server segment.

“I think this also showcases how badly Intel is bleeding support after abandoning the IDF (Intel Developer Forum) conference.”

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