AMD Readies Naples Processor for Battle in Server Arena

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AMD announced this week it will being shipping its new “Naples” server CPU in the second quarter of 2017, hoping to disrupt Intel’s hegemony in the server market. The upcoming chip looks to be the first CPU from AMD to offer a credible challenge to Xeon in the datacenter in nearly a decade.

Naples represents a re-imagining of the x86 Opteron, AMD’s flagship server CPU line. Based on the Zen architecture, the company is promising that Naples will represent “a step function increase, across the board.” Comparing it to its current rival in this space — that of the Intel “Broadwell” (Xeon E5-2600 v4) Xeon processor — AMD says Naples will provide 45 percent more cores (32 versus 22), 60 percent more I/O capacity (64 PCIe lanes versus 40), and 122 percent more memory bandwidth (171 GB/sec versus 77).

The high memory bandwidth is especially noteworthy, especially for performance demanding applications that are up against the memory wall (i.e., a large proportion of HPC codes). In fact, the 171 GB/sec figure is fairly close to the 230 GB/sec offered by an IBM Power8 processor. AMD accomplished this feat primarily by doubling up on the memory channels, going from the traditional four channels per socket to eight.

Memory capacity is impressive as well, with up to four terabytes possible on dual-socket server. That’s based on fully populating the 32 DIMM slots across both processors. A dual-socket server based on Intel Xeon E5-2600 v4 processors offers 24 memory slots, which tops out at 3 TB per server.

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