AMD’s new EPYC chips are out, with bigger cache for intense workloads

Four new EPYC high-end server processor SKUs from AMD (formerly codenamed Milan-X) have reached general availability, aimed at demanding enterprise workloads like modeling and visualization.

Server racks with illuminated indicators in a dimly lit data center.
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AMD is adding four new processor SKUs to its EPYC (formerly codenamed Milan-X) lineup of high-end chips, building additional L3 cache capability onto the existing EPYC series.

The key new feature of the new 7773X, 7573X, 7473X, and 7373X chips, which were initially announced in a roadmap made public late last year, is in their physical construction — AMD refers to the new technique as 3D V-Cache. Where most processors are constructed with a single piece of silicon inside, the new AMD chips mount a second microprocessor die atop the first one, which allows for a larger L3 cache.

IDC's research vice president for computing semiconductors, Shane Rau, said that this is an important feature for the very high-end applications that AMD is targeting with the EPYC series, which AMD groups under the rubric of "technical computing" — highly demanding enterprise workloads like modeling and visualization, as well as academic and scientific applications.

"The purpose of cache is to bring data that's going to be used next by the processor ahead, so it's available sooner than if you had to go back to main memory to find the data," he said. "A larger L3 cache means more data available more quickly to the processors, which the technical workloads can use."

The prices for the new chips are relatively high, Rau added, thanks to the newly improved cache features — the 16-core 7373X starts at $4,185 for the industry standard "1K" rate, which describes the price per unit in an order of 1,000, while the 64-core 7773X starts at $8,800. (Price breaks are sometimes possible for larger orders, Rau noted.)

The impressive capabilities of the chips, combined with their relatively high price, is reflective of AMD's product strategy as it continues its competitive relationship with Intel, which still accounts for roughly 85% of the server processor market. (AMD's own share is about 11%, according to Rau.)

"Intel has a much larger product stack … so if you go shopping for a processor from Intel, you'll have more to choose from, and arguably a more finely grained segmentation of the market," he said. "AMD's approach to the market is based on a smaller number of SKUs, but each SKU is capable of serving a broader range of workloads."sser


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