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AMD’s new 3rd-gen EPYC processors looks set to continue its dominion over performance

By Rhyn Chan - on 21 Mar 2021, 12:02pm

AMD’s new EPYC processors looks set to continue its dominion over performance

Note: This article was first published on 15th March 2021.

A render of an AMD EPYC processor.

During AMD’s virtual event, they’ve officially announced the new EPYC 7003 server processors, codenamed 'Milan'. These are the 3rd generation of EPYC processors that address enterprise needs in industries like data centers and cloud-computing workloads, just like the 2nd generation EPYC processors, but only refined further.

While the 3rd generation of EPYC 7003 processors are still on the 7nm node, they’ve applied the same improvements seen from Zen 2 to Zen 3 desktop processors into their server-side counterparts. AMD claims that this allows them to deliver up to “19% more instructions per clock” based on their internal testing using their 2nd generation eight-core AMD EPYC 7F32 (128MB cache and clock speeds exceeding 3.7GHz) and their new 3rd eight-core generation EPYC 72F3 (256MB cache and higher boost clocks of up to 4.1GHz).

Graph showing the performance numbers going from Zen 2 to Zen 3 architecture in AMD's new EPYC 7003 server processors.

This performance uplift is thanks to the new Zen 3 layout; on Zen 2, each core complex contains four-cores that shares 16MB of L3 cache and there’s a pair of them on each complex. Since the performance of the processing is directly affected by how fast data can move between both complexes, in some workloads, it can take a hit as data needs to transverse between these two complexes.

Shows a comparison of the layout of a Zen 2 versus Zen 3 processor and what the improvements are.

To address the inefficiencies in that layout, Zen 3 unifies both complexes into an eight-core structure that has direct access to 32MB of L3 cache, thereby reducing the need for data to move which increases performance metrics. In addition, by improving on the Branch Prediction bandwidth and Cache Prefetching, these changes reflect the incremental performance of the claimed 19% figures.

A table that shows the security advancements going from Zen 1, to Zen 3 processors.

Another improvement AMD has made to the new processors is on the security side. AMD Infinity Guard now includes Secure Nested Paging­­ as an additional layer of protection, on top of Secure Encrypted Virtualisation (SEV). What this means is that in server centers with hypervisors that are designed to monitor multiple Virtual Machines (VM), these new protections can guard against malicious attacks that may manipulate each VM session running in the server.  Here's a video to find out more about SEV and five key things to know about it:-

In total, there are nineteen new EPYC 7003 processors, and the highest-core count crown goes to the 64-core EPYC 7763. And just like generations, it supports PCIe Gen 4 with up to 128 lanes and eight-channel, DDR4 memory. It’s also a drop-in replacement that’s compatible with both the Milan and Naples platform.

When it comes to adoption of AMD’s new-fangled EPYC processors, big-leagued names like Amazon, Google, and Tencent Cloud will be adding them to their servers at a later point in time.

Source: AMD

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