Subject: Processors | February 19, 2018 - 08:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, Zen, Zen 2
WCCFTech found some rumors (scroll down near the bottom of the linked article) about AMD’s upcoming EPYC “Rome” generation of EPYC server processors. The main point is that users will be able to buy up to 64 cores (128 threads) on a single packaged processor. This increase in core count will likely be due to the process node shrink, from 14nm down to GlobalFoundries’ 7nm. This is not the same as the upcoming second-generation Zen processors, which are built on 12nm and expected to ship in a few months.
Rome is probably not coming until 2019.
But when it does… up to 128 threads. Also, if I’m understanding WCCFTech’s post correctly, AMD will produce two different dies for this product line. One design will have 12 cores per die (x4 for 48 cores per package) and the other will have 16 cores per die (x4 for 64 cores per package). The reason why this is interesting is because AMD is, apparently, expecting to sell enough volume to warrant multiple chip designs, rather than just making a flagship and filling in SKUs with bin sorting and cutting off the cores that require abnormally high voltage for a given clock rate as parts with lesser core count. (That will happen too, as usual, but from two different intended designs instead of just the flagship.)
If it works out as AMD plans, this could be an opportunity to acquire prime market share away from Intel and their Xeon processors. The second chip might let them get into second-tier servers with an even more cost-efficient part, because a 12-core die will bin better than a 16-core one and, as mentioned, yield more from a wafer anyway.
Again, this is a common practice from a technical standpoint; the interesting part is that it could work out well for AMD from a strategic perspective. The timing and market might be right for EPYC in various classes of high-end servers.
Beating AMD and Analyst Estimates
January 30th has rolled around and AMD released their Q4 2017 results. The results were positive and somewhat unexpected. I have been curious how the company fared and was waiting for these results to compare them to the relatively strong quarter that Intel experienced. At the Q3 earnings AMD was not entirely bullish about how Q4 would go. The knew that it was going to be a down quarter as compared to an unexpectedly strong third quarter, but they were unsure how that was going to pan out. The primary reason that Q4 was not going to be as strong was due to the known royalty income that AMD was expecting from their Semi-Custom Group. Q4 has traditionally been bad for that group as all of their buildup for the holiday season came from Q1 and Q2 rampings of the physical products that would be integrated into consoles.
The results exceeded AMD’s and analysts’ expectations. They were expecting in the $1.39B range, but their actual revenue came in at a relatively strong $1.48B. Not only was the quarter stronger than expected, but AMD was able to pull out another positive net income of $61M. It has been a while since AMD was able to post back to back profitable quarters. This allowed AMD to have a net positive year to the tune of $43M where in 2016 AMD had a loss of $497M. 2017 as a whole was $1.06B more in revenue over 2016. AMD has been historically lean in terms of expenses for the past few years, and a massive boost in revenue has allowed them to invest in R&D as well as more aggressively ramp up their money making products to compete more adequately with Intel, who is having their own set of issues right now with manufacturing and security.