AMD's new Zen processor architecture will make its first foray into data center computing in the form of Epyc 7000-series CPUs, unveiled on Tuesday as competitors to the Intel Xeon chips that have been the bread and butter of data centers for several years.
The Epyc 7000 is a system-on-a-chip (SoC) design that can be configured with as little as eight or as many as 32 cores, with two threads per core. That's the same multi-thread approach that AMD is taking with its Zen-based Ryzen CPUs for desktop and mobile PCs, unveiled earlier this year.
Ryzen excited many PC hobbyists and industry insiders with its power-to-price ratio, with some models that ring in at hundreds of dollars less than their Intel Core competitors. Although pricing for data center chips can vary widely based on volume discounts and other factors, it appears that AMD wants to make Epyc cheaper than its Intel competition, too: the company is touting 20 percent lower capital expenditures.
Epyc's SoC design also means that it comes with a startling array of I/O and memory options built in. Each Epyc device contains eight channels of memory for a total capacity of 2TB, which means that a typical two-socket Epyc server can contain up to 4TB of memory. Couple that with 128 lanes of PCIe, and the Epyc is undoubtedly a worthy Xeon competitor.
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Tuesday's unveiling also included new Epyc-powered servers from major manufacturers, including HPE, Dell, Asus, Gigabyte, and Lenovo. All of these companies are eager to please the voracious computing appetites of their customers, whose data centers must grow increasingly powerful to keep new artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms afloat.
Among those customers is Microsoft, which said that it plans to quickly install Epyc-powered servers in the data centers that serve its Azure cloud computing platform.
"To power Azure, we require the most cutting-edge infrastructure and the latest advances in silicon which is why we intend to be the first global cloud provider to deliver AMD Epyc," Microsoft's Azure Corporate Vice President Girish Bablani said in a statement.