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AMD Previews Next Gen Opteron, Naples Server Processor

After a big interest and success with the launch of Ryzen family of processors for consumers, AMD formally announced its new Naples server CPU today, featuring up to 32 cores, eight memory channels, and new, 128-lane Infinity Fabric.

Codenamed “Naples”, the new server chip targets one and two-socket servers, aimed squarely at Intel’s Broadwell-EP-based Xeon E3/E5 V4 range, and the upcoming Skylake-EP-based Xeon E3/E5 “V5”. The overall theme of AMD’s chip is “have more of everything.” Naples has 32 cores, capable of 64 simultaneous threads, eight memory channels, supporting up to 2TB RAM and 128 PCIe 3.0 lanes.

The PCIe pins are multiplexed and can be used for things other than PCIe. In two-socket systems, 64 of the PCIe lanes from each processor are lost, as the pins are used for inter-socket communication. That leaves 64 from each socket available for I/O. The inter-socket communication uses AMD’s “Infinity Fabric,” the high-speed cache coherent interconnect that is also used within Zen. Translated into regular English, the “Infinity Fabric” is just a shiny name for PCIe when used for two processor communication.

The raw numbers certainly favor AMD. The company is also leaning heavily on its pedigree in the server space, pointing out that it was the first to bring out 64-bit x86 processors, the first to integrate the memory controller into an x86 processor, and the first to use a high-speed cache coherent interconnect between its processors. Back when AMD introduced the HyperTransport interconnect, Intel’s chips still had their memory controllers on a separate chipset and used the shared front-side bus to connect the chipset to its processors. Simultaneously, AMD is criticizing Intel for its “incremental” approach to its server chips. AMD argues that its larger competitor has failed to equip its processors with the right balance of processing power, memory, and I/O.  Comparing it to Intel equivalent, you will get 20 threads more and support for 384GB of RAM more than on the Intel system. However, AMD is not currently offering clock-speed guidance, and the only benchmark it has demonstrated – a floating point-based seismic analysis workload – feels unsatisfactory. AMD demonstrated a sample workload with dual socket Naples system against dual Xeon E5-2699 V4 system. Naples was limited to running the memory at mere 1866MHz, and the test  completed in 18 seconds, while it took 35 seconds for Intel’s system to finish the test. While using the Naples machine with maximum memory speed of 2400MHz and all 64 cores it takes 14 seconds to finish the workload.

We still do not know for sure, when will these chips be available, but the company promised that the chips will ship in the second quarter of this year. By then, we should also get the information about clock speeds and pricings so stay tuned. It is only a guestimate, but we believe AMD might officially launch the new server platform at the June’s edition of ISC 2017 held in Frankfurt, Germany. Or sooner.