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Advanced Micro Devices launched its highest-performing data center processors ever with the debut of the 4th Gen Epyc processors today.

Lisa Su, CEO of Santa Clara, California-based AMD, unveiled the new family of 4th Gen AMD Epyc processors based on the Zen 4 architecture, which she said was the highest-performance core ever from AMD.

She said the processors deliver leadership performance (over rival Intel), and energy efficiency. And they can help customers accelerate data center modernization for greater application throughput and more actionable insights.

AMD is now able to pack 96 cores into its top Epyc processors, and these cores can process 14% more instructions per clock cycle than the 3rd Gen Epyc processors that debuted in 2021.

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“Choosing the right data center processor is more important than ever, and 4th Gen EPYC processors deliver leadership in every dimension,” said Su, in a statement. “The data center represents the largest growth opportunity and most strategic priority for AMD, and we are committed to making AMD the partner of choice by offering the industry’s broadest portfolio of high-performance and adaptive computing engines.”

She added, “We have built the best data center CPU roadmap in the industry, and with 4th Gen EPYC we deliver another major step forward in performance and efficiency to make the best server processor roadmap even better. With a significantly expanded set of solutions on track to launch from our ecosystem of partners, customers selecting 4th Gen EPYC to power their data centers can improve performance, consolidate their infrastructure and lower energy costs.”

During the event, she noted that code-named Genoa is aimed at general purpose applications. Bergamo will debut for the cloud in the first half of 2023. Genoa-X will debut for technical computing in the first half of 2023, and Siena will debut in the second half of 2023, optimized for performance per watt.

“Our goal with Epyc was to build the best data center CPU roadmap in the industry and I think we’ve done that,” Su said during the event.

4th Gen AMD Epyc details

4th Gen AMD Epyc has Zen 4 cores.

The 4th Gen AMD Epyc processors can help businesses free up data center resources to create additional workload processing and accelerate output. The chips have up to 96 cores in a single processor, enabling customers to deploy fewer and more powerful servers to continue to meet their computer needs, AMD said.

The chips have a “security by design” approach that expands on AMD Infinity Guard, which offers both physical and virtual layers of protection. It has two times the number of encryption keys compared to previous generations.

The processors have a variety of core counts ranging from 16 cores to 96, and the power consumption also ranges from 200 watts to 400 watts. The Gen 4 processors have support for DDR5 memory and PCIe Gen 5, which are critical for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The processors also support CXL 1.1+ for memory expansion.

Ram Peddibhotla, corporate vice president for product management at AMD, said in a press briefing that the 4th Gen AMD Epyc processors have broken 300 different performance records. He said the competitive gap is widening versus Intel processors.

“With the introduction of 4th Gen Epyc, we take another step-function and performance that pulls that Epyc curve dramatically upwards and extends our leadership even farther,” Peddibhotla said.

AMD started on its Epyc back in 2017, when its well-designed Zen 1 core made it much more competitive against Intel’s then-dominant microprocessors. The consumer and server products caught hold in the market. By 2021, AMD’s Milan version of Epyc had a 40% performance lead over Intel’s Icelake, Peddibhotla said, and now AMD is on its fourth version of its Epyc processor family.

“We are targeting general-purpose computing with a balanced approach. It spans every market segment you can think of,” he said. “And that’s the beauty of the approach we are taking. It’s not narrowly targeted toward a tiny sliver of a certain use case.”

Analyst comments

Taking the lid off the 4th Gen AMD Epyc processor.

Peddibhotla said the ambition is to create the highest-performing general-purpose data center CPU in the world. Code-named Genoa, the latest product has impressed analysts.

“AMD has, through some clever adjustments to the microarchitecture, expanded caches (and a lot of them), and a smaller (5nm) process, managed to show as much as 70% improvement in performance in a 350w TDP over its previous 3rd Gen Epyc,” said Jon Peddie, analyst at Jon Peddie Research. “4th Gen Epyc for the data center is a tour de force and very impressive and affordable.”

Peddibhotla said that the 4th Gen Epyc has a 107% performance advantage over 3rd Gen Epyc on cloud applications. It is 123% better on high-performance computing, and it is 94% better on enterprise apps, he said.

“What stands out to me is the enhanced performance with lower power demands. The new Epyc 4 will be highly competitive to Intel’s current server CPUs and should gain serious attention from all those who continue to grow their server farms,” said Tim Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies, in an email to VentureBeat. “Also, by using the new Epyc CPUs that can deliver equal — if not better — performance to Intel’s 15 servers via only five Epyc servers is very impressive and on paper should be cost-effective when growing any type of server farms.”

AMD has a whole slate of other products coming, including its 5th Gen Epyc processors coming in 2024.

Mike Clark, corporate fellow and silicon design engineer at AMD, said in a press briefing that the engineering team aimed at pushing performance, instructions per clock cycle, and frequency all at the same time. They attacked latency with a larger L2 memory cache, and they were able to reduce power consumption with dynamic power techniques. And it has extensions for better machine learning and security.

The chips will be manufactured with a 5-nanometer and 6-nanometer hybrid manufacturing process. Kevin Lepak, corporate fellow and silicon design engineer for server SoCs at AMD, said in a press briefing that the 96 cores can process 192 threads at once, and the power consumption ranges from 200 watts to 400 watts.

AMD has been increasingly competitive in the data center market with Epyc.

AMD compared the performance to Intel’s third-generation Xeon processor with 40 cores (as it couldn’t get Intel’s latest chips on the market). On a key benchmark, AMD’s 96-core 4th Gen Epyc processor scored 1,790, almost three times the 602 score of the Intel chip. And it was double the performance of AMD’s own 64-core 3rd Gen Epyc processor at 861.

“That is an astounding 2X performance in one generation,” he said.

AMD said that Intel’s two-processor server chips required 15 server racks in a data center, compared to just five for AMD’s 4th Gen Epyc processors. That was a 67% smaller footprint, and it used 54% less power. Peddibhotla said the power difference was enough to save 30 acres of forest land for a year.

“There is a dramatic difference,” Peddibhotla said. “We use fewer servers, use less power, and have lower emissions. If you adopt the five servers, you get the carbon sequestration equivalent of 30 acres of forests per year. We think 4th Gen Epyc is the best server processor to have ever come to market.”

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