Podcast #521 - Zen 2, 7nm Vega, SSD Vulnerabilities, and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 8, 2018 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: Zen 2, xeon, Vega, rome, radeon instinct, podcast, MI60, Intel, EPYC, cxl-ap, chiplet, cascade lake, amd, 7nm

PC Perspective Podcast #521 - 11/08/18

Join us this week for discussion on AMD's new Zen 2 architecture, 7nm Vega GPUs, SSD encryption vulnerabilities, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Jim Tanous, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Ken Addison, and Sebastian Peak

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:42:27

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. Thanks to Casper for supporting our podcast! Save $50 on select mattresses at http://www.casper.com/pcper code pcper
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Picks of the Week:
    1. Jim: N7 Day! Amazon - Origin

AMD Shows Off Zen 2-Based EPYC "Rome" Server Processor

Subject: Processors | November 7, 2018 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: Zen 2, rome, PCI-e 4, Infinity Fabric, EPYC, ddr4, amd, 7nm

In addition to AMD's reveal of 7nm GPUs used in its Radeon Instinct MI60 and MI50 graphics cards (aimed at machine learning and other HPC acceleration), the company teased a few morsels of information on its 7nm CPUs. Specifically, AMD teased attendees of its New Horizon event with information on its 7nm "Rome" EPYC processors based on the new Zen 2 architecture.

AMD EPYC Rome Zen 2.jpg

Tom's Hardware spotted the upcoming Epyc processor at AMD's New Horizon event.

The codenamed "Rome" EPYC processors will utilize a MCM design like its EPYC and Threadripper predecessors, but increases the number of CPU dies from four to eight (with each chiplet containing eight cores with two CCXs) and adds a new 14nm I/O die that sits in the center of processor that consolidates memory and I/O channels to help even-out the latency among all the cores of the various dies. This new approach allows each chip to directly access up to eight channels of DDR4 memory (up to 4TB) and will no longer have to send requests to neighboring dies connected to memory which was the case with, for example, Threadripper 2. The I/O die is speculated by TechPowerUp to also be responsible for other I/O duties such as PCI-E 4.0 and the PCH communication duties previously integrated into each die.

"Rome" EPYC processors with up to 64 cores (128 threads) are expected to launch next year with AMD already sampling processors to its biggest enterprise clients. The new Zen 2-based processors should work with existing Naples and future Milan server platforms. EPYC will feature from four to up to eight 7nm Zen 2 dies connected via Infinity Fabric to a 14nm I/O die.

AMD Lisa Su Holding Rome EPYC Zen 2 CPU.png

AMD CEO Lisa Su holding up "Rome" EPYC CPU during press conference earlier this year.

The new 7nm Zen 2 CPU dies are much smaller than the dies of previous generation parts (even 12nm Zen+). AMD has not provided full details on the changes it has made with the new Zen 2 architecutre, but it has apparently heavily tweaked the front end operations (branch prediction, pre-fetching) and increased cache sizes as well as doubling the size of the FPUs to 256-bit. The architectural improvements alogn with the die shrink should allow AMD to show off some respectable IPC improvements and I am interested to see details and how Zen 2 will shake out.

Also read:

Intel unveils Xeon Cascade Lake Advanced Performance Platform

Subject: Processors | November 5, 2018 - 02:00 AM |
Tagged: xeon e-2100, xeon, MCP, Intel, Infinity Fabric, EPYC, cxl-ap, cascade lake, amd, advanced performance

Ahead of the Supercomputing conference next week, Intel has announced a new market segment for Xeons called Cascade Lake Advanced Platform (CXL-AP). This represents a new, higher core count option in the Xeon Scalable family, which currently tops out at 28 cores. 

cxl-ap.png

Through the use of a multi-chip package (MCP), Intel will now be able to offer up to 48-cores, with 12 DDR4 memory channels per socket. Cascade Lake AP is being targeted at dual socket systems bringing the total core count up to 96-cores.

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Intel's Ultra Path Interconnect (UPI), introduced in Skylake-EP for multi-socket communication, is used to connect both the MCP packages on a single processor together, as well as the two processors in a 2S configuration. 

Given the relative amount of shade that Intel has thrown towards AMD's multi-die design with Epyc, calling it "glued-together," this move to an MCP for a high-end Xeon offering will garner some attention.

When asked about this, Intel says that the issues they previously pointed out with aren't inherently because it's a multi-die design, but rather the quality of the interconnect. By utilizing UPI for the interconnect, Intel claims their MCP design will provide performance consistency not found in other solutions. They were also quick to point out that this is not their first Xeon design utilizing multiple packages.

Intel provided some performance claims against the current 32-core Epyc 7601, of up to 3.4X greater performance in Linpack, and up to 1.3x in Stream Triad.

As usual, whether or not these claims are validated will come down to external testing when people have these new Cascade Lake AP processors in-hand, which is set to be in the first half of 2019.

More details on the entire Cascade Lake family, including Cascade Lake AP, are set to come at next week's Supercomputing conference, so stay tuned for more information as it becomes available!

Source: Intel

AMD Releases Q3 2018 Financial Results

Subject: Editorial | October 24, 2018 - 09:13 PM |
Tagged: amd, quarterly results, Q3 2018, ryzen, EPYC, Polaris, Vega, 7nm, 12nm, Intel, nvidia

This evening AMD announced their Q3 2018 results. Things were at the lower end of the guidance scale from last quarter, but the company still had some solid results. Q3 revenue was $1.65B as compared to Q3 2017’s $1.58B. It is down from the previous quarter’s high of $1.76B. At first glance this seems troubling, but the results are not as negative as one would assume. GAAP net income was a healthy $102M. Q3 2017 was at $61M while Q2 2018 was up at $116M. Profits did not fall nearly as much as one would expect with a decrease of $110M revenue quarter over quarter.

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Probably the largest factor of the decrease was the negligible sales of GPUs to the crypto market. AMD had expected such a dropoff and warned about it in their Q2 guidance. That particular drop off was sudden and dramatic. AMD looks to continue to lose marketshare in add-in graphics due to their less competitive offerings across the spectrum. GeForce RTX sales of course did not impact AMD this previous quarter, but with no new AMD offerings on the horizon users look to have been waiting to see exactly what NVIDIA would release.

Ryzen sales have been steady and strong, making up some of the shortfall from the graphics market. Desktop chips are moving briskly for the company and continues to be a strong seller historically for the company. AMD is also starting to move more mobile processors, but it seems that the majority of parts are still desktop based. AMD looks to continue moving older inventory with aggressive pricing on those and manufacturing of the new 2000 series parts has been relatively smooth sailing for the company.

Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom had a strong quarter, but with less growth as some analysts had been hoping for. Semi-Custom was weaker this quarter, but IP revenue is up. Console chips are weaker at the moment due to the platforms being relatively mature and not exhibiting the sales of the previous two holiday seasons. To further offset the decrease in Semi-Custom, AMD is reporting that the enterprise products (GPU and EPYC) have seen good growth. Overall this division was down 5% from Q3 2017, but up 7% from the previous quarter.

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Perhaps the most interesting figure of this is Gross Margins. AMD was able to improve margins from 36% to 40%. This 4% increase quarter on quarter is a significant jump for the company. This means that AMD continues to keep costs under control for the company and is able to deliver product more efficiently than in the year before. It is still a far cry from Intel and NVIDIA, which typically have magins between 55% to 65%. AMD has a long ways to go before reaching that kind of level. Part of the margin offset was again due to IP licensing. If IP licensing was removed then we would see 38% margins rather than 40%.

So what are the overall lessons of the past quarter? EPYC sales are not as brisk as analysts had hoped for, but they are also not non-existent. It has shown solid growth for the company and has offset shortfalls in other areas of the company. Their IP and Semi-Custom areas are still very solid, even though AMD does suffer from console lifecycles and downturns. GPUs continue to sell, but not nearly at the rate they were due to the crypto market. Their Polaris based options are well suited to compete in the sub-$300 US market. The Vega based products were finally down to MSRP, but they had a harder time going against the mature and well liked GeForce GTX 1070 and 1080 products. This will be further compounded with the introduction of the RTX products in those price ranges.

Ryzen continues to be a very good seller across the board. I had hoped that AMD would break down numbers between Ryzen CPUs and APUs, but I have not seen numbers that hint at what ratio they sell at. In retail the Ryzen 2000 series CPUs look to be some of the most popular products based on price/performance. However, retail is only a small portion of processor sales and Intel still holds the vast majority of marketshare here. AMD is competing, but they have not taken significant chunks from their competition over the past year. They have done enough to achieve several positive quarters in a row, but this is not the slam dunk that the original Athlon 64 was back in 2003/2004.

AMD expects further weakness in their results next quarter. Guidance is for revenue around $1.45B, plus or minus $50M. This is still higher than Q4 2017 results, but it is a significant drop from Q3 results. AMD expects strong Ryzen, EPYC, and datacenter GPU growth during this time. It is expected that consumer GPU and Semi-Custom will continue to drop. There does look to be a 7nm GPU introduction this next quarter, but it is probably the long rumored Vega refresh that will be aimed directly at datacenter rather than consumer.

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2018 has so far been a year of solid growth and execution for AMD on the CPU side. Their GPU side has suffered a bit of a slide, but this is to be expected by how much belt-tightening AMD has done in the past several years to get their CPU architecture back on track. The lion’s share of development resources was shunted off to the CPU side while the GPU side had to fight for scraps. I believe this is no longer the case, but when development takes years for new GPUs the injection of new resources will not become apparent for a while.

2019 continues to look better for AMD as they are expecting an early release of 7nm EPYC parts which should compete very well with Intel’s 14nm based Xeon products. AMD is expecting a significant uptick in sales due to the thermals, pricing, and performance of these new Zen 2 based parts. The company also continues to point to the end of 1H for introduction of 7nm Ryzen parts based on Zen 2. These will be showing up quite a few months before Intel’s 10nm offerings will be available. Rumors have it that the new Zen 2 based parts exhibit a significant IPC increase that should make them far more competitive to the best that Intel has on the desktop and mobile markets. Combine these IPC improvements with the 7nm boost in power and clocks for the parts, and AMD could have a very good product on their hands. AMD also is expecting a 1H release of 7nm Navi GPUs which should prove to be more competitive with current NVIDIA products that rely on 16nm and 12nm process nodes from TSMC.

While Q3 was a drop in revenue for the company, their current cost structure has still allowed them to make a tidy profit. The company continues to move forward with new products and new developments.

 
Source: AMD

HPE and AMD sitting in a tree ...

Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2018 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: hp, hoe, amd, EPYC

According to DigiTimes, HP is now recommending it's AMD based servers to customers in preference of Intel chips.  The official word is that this is to ensure any shortages of new Intel silicon will not have any effect on their customers.  There is another point which could be behind this; Dell recently eclipsed HPE as the largest global server brand so HPE may be trying to recover that title by reducing the cost of their servers.  HPE has already demonstrated a willingness to move away from Intel based systsem as they are currently designing an ARM based supercomputer for the US Department of Energy, called Astra.

Either way this is good news for AMD.

hp.png

"HP Enterprise (HPE) has recently been said to have recommended its partners adopt its server products using AMD's platforms to avoid the impact of Intel processor shortages. But Digitimes sources from the upstream supply chain have indicated that no other server players have seen issues with supply of Intel's server processors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

EPYC wins in the server room for AMD

Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2018 - 02:18 PM |
Tagged: amd, EPYC, Intel, market share, server

AMD is continuing to see success in the server room, grabbing a bit more market share from Intel this quarter.  The estimated revenue was $57.66m in the Q2 2018 whereas Q1 was $36m, as far as actual market share, AMD has increased their slice of the pie by 1.3% versus an increase of 0.5% this time last year.  AMD is hopeful they can reach 5% by the end of the year; The Register notes that 2.1% or so would be more in line with the current trend.  Regardless this is great news for AMD and indicates the attractiveness of EPYC for those companies looking for server upgrades.

amd_server_cpu_revnue_share_2q2018.jpg

"Aaron Rakers, senior analyst at Wells Fargo, has seen the second 2018 quarter numbers. He told The Register: "Intel's server CPU share is estimated to have dec lined to 98.7 per cent vs 99 per cent in the prior period and 99.5 per cent a year ago."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

AMD Announces Q2 2018 Results

Subject: Editorial | July 25, 2018 - 09:47 PM |
Tagged: Vega, ryzen, Q2 2018, Polaris, Intel, EPYC, amd, 7nm, 12nm

Today AMD has released their Q2 results for 2018 and they have fallen in line with previous estimates. The company reported revenue of $1.76B, up $110M from last quarter’s $1.65B. Their net income is $116M which is again up significantly from last quarter’s $81M. These results dwarf Q2 2017’s $1.15B in revenue and a loss of $42M. AMD has shown steady and solid growth since the release of the Ryzen processors and their continuing evolution of the RX series of graphics cards.

amd_logo_2.png

The computing group which includes CPUs and GPUs showed a small drop in revenue due to multiple factors. CPU ASPs are steadily dropping for AMD since the original introduction of the Ryzen processors. The top end R7 1800X was introduced at $499 and has slowly dropped in price as the year wore on. This year AMD released the successor to the 1800X in the R7 2700X, but it was released at a $329 price point. We can see that the pricing mix of these CPUs is not as rich as they were on Ryzen’s initial release. The play here seems to be AMD improving efficiency of production as well as a willingness to sacrifice ASPs to gain any kind of marketshare.

GPUs have suffered as well due to the drop off in mining based purchases due to cryptocurrency dropping in value as well as the continued introduction of specialized ASICs performing better in those particular workloads. AMD claims a fairly palatable drop of only around 4% in sales due to the decrease in mining demand. It is likely that partners are feeling more of a pinch in this instance as the selling prices of these cards are finally reaching introductory MSRP levels as well as seeing reasonable availability. We do not know the specifics of AMD’s GPU sales to partners, but it seems like that price has been stable since introduction with the partners and resellers profiting to a greater degree than AMD.

The bright spot for this quarter was that of Enterprise and Semi-Custom. AMD switched around accounting on how it handles Semi-Custom so that accounted for some of the positive gains this quarter saw. AMD also started its collaboration with the Chinese for their own version of a Zen CPU. AMD continues to provide console makers with SoCs in two of the three major product lines out there. AMD is also likely currently contracted by both Sony and Microsoft for the next generation of consoles which will be released in the next two years, though none of the parties involved in such speculation has verified that information. I have a hard time considering that both Sony and Microsoft would abandon what has been a very beneficial partnership to create cutting edge products for their marketplace.

2018_q2.PNG

The Enterprise group has also seen sales increase on the EPYC processors. EPYC was released last year, but it was not until this year that actual sales occured. While AMD did not provide specific numbers or guidance here, reading between the lines it looks as if EPYC is starting to gain traction and is shipping in more significant numbers. AMD was very careful in talking about this, as EPYC still has a long ways to go before it can claim to have gained significant marketshare. Lisa Su mentioned earlier that the real ramp for EPYC should occur in 2H 2018. This makes quite a bit of sense as the hardware and software environment for enterprise level products is tremendously different from when AMD was last competitive there. Validation of parts and platforms takes more time, and there are more complex software components involved that have to be updated to work effectively and efficiently on the new Zen architecture and EPYC chips. In the year since EPYC was launched a lot of work has been going on in the background by AMD, their hardware partners, and the software vendors to make sure that when EPYC hits volume production that most of the kinks will be worked out and it is truly enterprise production ready. This isn’t wishful thinking or excuse making. This is simply how a modern enterprise platform evolves and why product cycles are elongated as compared to what we see on the desktop and mobile spaces.

Guidance for next quarter will be disappointing for some investors and readers. AMD claims it will be flat between Q2 and Q3. This is not entirely surprising. Gaining desktop CPU marketshare has not been a slam dunk for AMD with Ryzen. The product stack has made it competitive with Intel and its offerings, and has in fact provided excellent value in terms of IPC and core count. Ryzen is not an Athlon 64. Ryzen was merely competitive with what Intel currently offers as compared to Athlon 64, which was head and shoulders more advanced than what Intel offered at the time with the Pentium 4. AMD is finding advances in marketshare in both desktop and mobile to be slow, but steady. Each quarter since Ryzen was released and the mobile parts being introduced earlier this year, the results have been trending in a positive direction even though ASPs on desktop parts have dropped (though mobile ASPs have increased).

AMD-Epyc-640x360.jpg

AMD obviously does not expect big gains this next quarter, and are in fact a little behind the ball when it comes to graphics. NVIDIA is poised to release a new generation of products within the next few months addressing the upper midrange and high end offerings that will erode AMD’s effectiveness with their Vega parts. So while EPYC products will increase in sales, AMD looks like it will be shipping fewer GPUs, at least in the high end. We probably will see Polaris based products have price drops applied to them to keep the meat of the market satisfied with AMD product, but do not expect next generation desktop graphics from AMD until 2019.

This was a productive and solid quarter for AMD. It is hard to argue against that. Their financial house is in far greater order and a solid revenue stream heading towards the company. They are keeping costs under control while aggressively pursuing the markets they have a strong history in. They have continued to leverage their IP with the Semi-Custom group and that provides a steady income from both historical partners and new ones. AMD is not seeing a breakaway quarter or year, but they are building a much more solid foundation and executing on their primary markets while competing effectively with Intel. This is certainly not 2003/2004, but it is a new chapter for AMD as they continue to provide new and interesting products to a market that continues to expand.

 

Source: AMD

Banning Talos worship might be worth it, POWER9 still lags behind

Subject: Processors | July 6, 2018 - 03:16 PM |
Tagged: IBM, power9, talos 2, EPYC, xeon

Phoronix were recently given access to three servers running three different POWER9 Talos II configurations and compared them to EPYC and Xeon.  On paper these systems look amazing, thanks to the architecture supporting four threads per core; they tested  a dual 4-core Talos II system, a Talos II Lite with a single 22-core CPU and a Talos II with dual 18-core processors with thread counts of 32, 88, and 144 respectively. 

There were certainly usage scenarios where the dual 18 core system could outpace even the EPYC 7601 but could not surpass the dual Xeon Gold 6138 system.  The review covers a fair amount of benchmarks and configurations but doesn't begin to scratch the surface of wide variety of server configurations you need to consider before abandoning POWER9 altogether but the key metric, performance per dollar, shows these architecture solidly in the middle of the pack.

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"Back in April we were able to run some IBM POWER9 benchmarks with remote access to the open-source friendly Talos II systems by Raptor Computer Systems. We were recently allowed remote access again to a few different configurations of this libre hardware with three different POWER9 processor combinations. Here are those latest benchmarks compared to Intel Xeon and AMD EPYC server processors."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: Phoronix

Podcast #502 - Computex coverage and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2018 - 11:50 AM |
Tagged: xTend, xps, video, Vega, Threadripper, Snapdragon 850, seasonic, scmd, ROG, qualcomm, podcast, Optane, nvidia, microsoft, logitech, Killer Wireless, Isaac, InWin, Intel, i7-8086k, git, fortnite, EPYC, dell, crystal, corsair, CaseKing, asus, aorus, amd, 7nm

PC Perspective Podcast #502 - 06/07/18

Join us this week for discussion on Computex and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Ken Addison

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:45:27

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. 1:00:40 ASUS all the things
  3. Picks of the Week:
  4. Closing/outro
 
Source:

Computex 2018: AMD Announces New EPYC Design Wins

Subject: General Tech | June 5, 2018 - 10:36 PM |
Tagged: server, EPYC, enterprise, amd

AMD started off its Computex 2018 livestream by announcing three new design wins for its EPYC server processors. Specifically, AMD's EPYC is being picked up by Cisco, HPE, and Tencent for new server products that will be aimed at heavy virtualization workloads where the physical servers will be host to many virtual machines used for all manner of enterprise applications in the both private and public clouds.

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Specifically, AMD notes that Cisco will be using EPYC in a new UCS solution where AMD notes that EPYC offers up 128% more cores, 50% more servers, and 20% more storage per rack than the competition. Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) is a high performance converged platform that combines servers, networking, storage, and management together into a rack-able solution that is all interconnected by a Cisco fabric.

AMD EPYC HPE.png

HPE (the enterprise focused spin off from HP) is also adopting EPYC with the announcement today of its first AMD EPYC powered single socket Proliant server: the HPE Proliant DL325 Gen 10. AMD claims its EPYC processors (up to 32 cores / 64 threads) offers up to 25% lower cost per VM than the leading dual socket competitor. In the datacenter world TCO (total cost of ownership) is king and EPYC does have a core count advantage over Intel in this space.

AMD EPYC Tencent.png

Finally, AMD announced that China-based Tencent SA1 cloud service will begin offering AMD EPYC powered instances as soon as today with EPYC offering up to 30% lower cost per VM to Tencent.

AMD did not go into more specifics on the announcements, but it is nice to see EPYC getting some design wins. If you are still awake at this time, you can catch the AMD livestream on Youtube here. Here is what you have to look forward to according to AMD CEO Lisa Su: AMD Vega graphics, FreeSync, Ryzen, Threadripper 2, and 7nm Radeon Vega GPUs.

AMD Computex 2018.png

Source: AMD