SAN JOSE, Calif. — Advanced Micro Devices will announce the first server processor based on its Zen x86 core at the Open Compute Project event here this week. AMD’s Naples, available by June, packs more cores, memory, and I/O than Intel’s Broadwell, beating it in seismic analysis benchmarks.
The news comes as AMD starts sales of Zen-based desktop chips. Initial reports from people testing the chips showed results that were less flattering than original benchmarks that AMD revealed last month.
A Naples processor packs 32 dual-threaded cores, eight memory channels running up to 2,400 MHz, and 128 lanes of PCI Express Gen 3. AMD showed it finishing seismic analysis tests faster than Intel Broadwell chips, even when the AMD-based systems were throttled back to the slower memory speeds and fewer cores on Broadwell.
AMD noted that Naples completed one test that the Broadwell chips could not because the Intel chips did not support enough main memory for the test.
Naples sports 32 dual-threaded cores, eight 2,400-MHz memory channels, and 128 PCI Express Gen 3 lanes. (Source: AMD)
In an interview, Forrest Norrod, a former Dell server executive who now heads AMD’s server and semi-custom group, set low expectations for Naples. He noted that the company has negligible market share in x86 server CPUs today.
“We will fire rifle shots, not shotgun blasts. We have a good general-purpose product, but our strategy is to identify workloads for which we are clearly best,” Norrod said, including workloads in both public and private cloud computing.
He noted that even the web giants at the OC event, such as Google, have many different workloads, such as search indexing, serving up search results, and serving adds. “Some of those workloads, I’m not going to break in,” he said.
Although Naples supports more I/O than current Intel server CPUs, it arrives late in the life of 8-GTransfers/second PCIe Gen 3. IBM expects to ship Power9 server processors this year, the first such chips to support the 16-GT/s Gen 4.
Similarly, AMD was one of a broad group of companies last year supporting open interfaces such as CCIX for accelerators and Gen-Z for new memory types. AMD server chips are not expected to adopt such links until late 2018 or early 2019, Norrod said.
The 14-nm, 32-core Naples chips will also need to compete with Qualcomm’s 10-nm, 48-core Centriq, although such ARM-based SoCs have not gained traction in servers to date.
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times