AMD takes another crack at Intel's server stronghold with more Epyc silicon

All 'the working from home and virtual desktops' might make you think about data center rebuilds, hmm?

AMD is once again hoping to muscle in on Intel's bread and butter with a new line of second-generation Epyc processors aimed squarely at the HPC, cloud, and enterprise markets.

The three server-class chips are designated 7Fx2: the eight-core 180W 7F32 clocked at 3.7-3.9GHz with 128MB of L3 cache; the 16-core 240W 7F52 clocked at 3.5-3.9GHz with 256MB of L3; and the 24-core 240W 7F72 clocked at 3.2-3.7GHz with 192MB of L3.

If you think about the learnings from today, the working from home and virtual desktops, everyone is thinking about how you modernize your data center

"The enterprise is really a core area for us and we are really going after it," AMD server business senior VP and general manager Dan McNamara told reporters on a briefing call.

AMD hopes each of the 7nm Zen-2-based chips will match or undercut Chipzilla on both price and performance: the trio are pitted against comparable Intel Xeon Gold or Platinum lines.

Specifically, the eight-core 7F32 costs $2,100 apiece, when ordering 1,000 at a time, and will take on Intel's eight-core Xeon Gold 6250 and 6244. In the middle, the 24-core 7F72 is AMD's answer to the 24-core Xeon Gold 6248R and Platinum 8268, and costs $2,450 apiece. At the high end – in price terms, at least – the 16-core 7F52 is gunning for the 16-core Xeon Gold 6242 and 6246R models, and supports a maximum of 3200MHz 4TB RAM, compared to Intel's 2933MHz 1TB, and is priced $3,100 apiece for orders with quantities of at least 1,000. Yes, the part numbers are a bit odd.

Among the vendors planning to integrate the new Epyc chips at launch are HPE with Lenovo, Nutanix, Dell, and Supermicro, which will all be selling rack-mount servers equipped with the new AMD chips. IBM, meanwhile, says it will bundle the new Epyc gear into its bare-metal cloud units.

AMD said the chips were aimed at the HPC and cloud markets, although enterprise is going to be a particular focus.

While its rival has seen gains in the desktop space, Intel has been plagued by shortages. However, for AMD, getting into the enterprise and data center markets, where Intel holds the x86 monopoly and focuses much of its efforts, will be a different situation.

One hope AMD has for its enterprise push is that, as many companies move to handle a remote workforce, data center rebuilds will come into fashion and the market for the Epyc chips will explode. "If you think about the learnings from today, the working from home and virtual desktops, everyone is thinking about how you modernize your data center," McNamara said.

"I think the enterprise is really in this transformation phase."

AMD expects the first Epyc 7Fx2 servers to arrive in the second quarter of this year. ®

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