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AMD Milan Extends Server Lead

March 16, 2021

Author: Linley Gwennap

AMD’s third-generation Epyc processor delivers a big performance gain over the previous generation, pushing it into the lead over Xeon in single-thread performance. Even the older products, code-named Rome, lead Xeon in core count and multicore performance, so the new Milan generation wins a clean sweep in server performance. Unlike Intel’s third-generation Xeon Scalable processors, the Milan products are all socket compatible with each other and with the previous generation, simplifying system design. They also introduce new security features that mainly target cloud-service providers (CSPs).

The performance boost comes primarily from the Zen 3 CPU, which provides a major microarchitecture upgrade with a more efficient cache. This combination increases per-clock performance (IPC) over Rome’s Zen 2 by 19% on average across a range of benchmarks, according to AMD testing. Despite using the same 7nm technology as Rome, Milan delivers slightly greater clock speeds owing to Zen 3’s improved circuit design. Thus, most new models improve raw CPU performance by 20–30%. This improvement gives Epyc its first ever lead over Xeon in single-thread performance. Boasting up to 64 cores, Epyc dominates Xeon on multithreaded benchmarks by as much as 2x.

At the top of the stack is the new Epyc 7763, featuring 64 CPU cores and a huge 256MB cache. At 2.45GHz, its base clock is 9% faster than that of the Rome-based Epyc 7742, offering a 26% multithread-performance increase. But the chip’s power rating (TDP) rises 24% to 280W, providing little gain in performance per watt. Similarly, the mainstream 16-core 7343 features a 7% faster base clock than the older 7302, but the TDP rises from 155W to 190W. Thus, the impressive performance improvements come with commensurately greater power consumption. The company has also raised prices for the new products, although they remain less expensive than corresponding Intel models.

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