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AMD's Epyc 4 will likely beat Intel Sapphire Rapids to market

HPE to start shipping Genoa-equipped systems in December – Intel's 4th-gen Xeons eventually

In the latest blow to Intel, Hewlett Packard Enterprise execs tell The Register its 4th-Gen Xeon Scalable-equipped systems won't ship before AMD's Epyc 4.

The news comes as HPE teases four new ProLiant Gen11 systems powered by AMD's next-generation Epyc datacenter CPUs, codenamed Genoa, which are slated to launch during an event later this month.

The win is significant for AMD as it makes the chipmaker the first to bring a datacenter-class chip with support for the latest DDR5, PCIe 5.0, and Compute Express Link (CXL) 1.1 standards. Technically, Amazon's Arm-based Graviton 3 also supports these features, however, you can't exactly go out and buy one from HPE, or anyone else for that matter.

But it wasn't supposed to be this way. Intel's 4th-Gen Xeons, code-named Sapphire Rapids and initially slated for release in 2021, should have beaten the house of Zen to market by more than a year.

Unfortunately for Intel, the company's first CPU to embrace a chiplet architecture has proven more challenging than initially thought. The processor has been delayed repeatedly as Intel sought to work out the kinks.

"We won't compromise that quality, even if it means delaying the product," Ronak Singhal, senior fellow at Intel, recently told The Register. "We're going through a rigorous validation cycle, and when we find issues, sometimes it will push out the schedule, but we think that's the right trade-off for our customers, and what they're expecting from us."

Asked when we could expect to see HPE launch its next-gen Intel systems, an HPE spokesperson said the company had yet to set a date. But enough about a chip you can't buy and more about the one HPE hopes to fill your rack with in time for the holidays.

Epyc 4 comes to ProLiant family

HPE's latest ProLiant Gen 11 systems – the single-socket DL325 and DL345 and the dual-socket DL365 and DL385 – will pack up to two 96-core Epyc processors into your choice of a space-efficient 1U or storage and accelerator-friendly 2U chassis.

The single-socket systems will support up to 3TB of DDR5, while the dual-socket systems double the available memory to 6TB. This means that at least until HPE's Sapphire Rapids systems start shipping, those who want the maximum amount of memory possible from a single-socket system will need to opt for the OEM's previously announced Ampere Altra-based systems, which can be equipped with up to 4TB memory.

That said, we're told that customers who need even more memory, or maybe just don't want to pay for pricey new DDR5, will eventually be able to take advantage of CXL memory expansion modules, which fit standard PCIe slots.

Beyond the different memory and socket configurations, the systems are largely the same, with all four systems supporting more or less 3.5-inch, 2.5-inch, and small form-factor NVMe storage, depending on their size and SKU. It's a similar story with PCIe expansion.

Both of the 1U systems sport a pair of x16 PCIe 5.0 slots, while the larger 2U systems increase that to six or eight PCIe x16 slots depending on whether you opt for a single or dual-socket system. All four systems also feature a pair of OCP3.0 x8 slots for additional connectivity.

Speaking of PCIe expansion, one notable change from previous generations is support for larger accelerators, with the dual-socket DL385 supporting up to four dual-width cards.

"What we're seeing is that there's more demand for acceleration than we've seen in the past, even at the edge," Krista Satterthwaite, SVP and GM of mainstream compute at HPE, told The Register.

Three years of GreenLake management whether you want it or not

In HPE's enduring quest to offer everything it can as-a-service, the company is launching these systems with the GreenLake for Compute Ops Management service as standard.

The service provides a dashboard for onboarding, management, and tracking of key metrics, like carbon footprint, on HPE's ProLiant systems.

Each server comes standard with a three-year license for the service's basic tier, which includes per-device management and metrics. However, HPE would prefer users upgrade to the premium version of the service, which enables bulk management for things like firmware deployments.

"For example, Kimley-Horn, they were able to speed up their firmware updates from four hours to 45 minutes," Satterthwaite touted.

Those worried that the service is a replacement for HPE's Integrated Lights-Out (iLO) remote management capabilities can rest easy. We're told Compute Ops Management is a complement to rather than a replacement for iLO.

All four systems are available for order starting November 10, with shipments going out from December. And, as usual, customers can opt to purchase these systems outright or lease them via HPE GreenLake's Everything-as-a-Service platform. ®

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