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The EPYC Rise of AMD’s New Server Processor

by GIGABYTE
In Context to the Evolution of the Server Market
The development of the modern server is rooted in the worldwide spread of the Internet, which required a large number of servers to build and support it. With a B2B sales model, the server market has long been dominated by a small number of suppliers, forming a captive market. After both IBM and AMD withdrew due to a change in corporate strategy, the server CPU market was occupied almost entirely by Intel with a market share of close to 99%. Intel was therefore able to dominate the entire server industry - it could be said that every company in the value chain needed to follow Intel’s roadmap for their own product development, which is hard to imagine in most other industries. It’s like if every car dealership all only sold a single brand of car – how boring would that be?

With the rise of new applications however such as Cloud, Big Data and AI, data centers of all sizes have gradually increased their demand for servers. Due to increasingly diversified applications, Intel appears to be a little overwhelmed to support so many different types of customers.

Learn More:
《Glossary:What is Big Data?
《Glossary:What is Artificial Intelligence(AI)?

Owing to these developments, calls for a new challenger to break Intel’s monopoly of the server market have been getting louder and louder. IBM’s OpenPOWER, APM’s X-Gene and Marvell’s ThunderX processors all tried to challenge Intel, expecting to gain a share in the server market. Unfortunately the processor architecture of both OpenPower and Arm64 are different to Intel’s x86, requiring the surrounding ecosystem for these processors to be modified or updated, taking a considerable amount of time and financial investment and resulting in an uphill battle for these non-x86 challengers. At this moment however AMD EPYC has stepped into the spotlight: a processor with the advantage of using the same x86 architecture as Intel’s Xeon, and thus able to share the same ecosystem.

AMD Enters the Server Market – and Forms a Close Relationship with GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE already held a mid-tier position in the Intel-dominated server market with solid technical capabilities and a global sales network. However, GIGABYTE’s Network & Communications Business Unit decided to transform its server business to focus primarily on the channel market, and establish a comprehensive server lineup using a modularized system product development method. Yet the overall server market was already quite mature, so a growth strategy of selling through the channel to data centers was constrained by the maturity and solidification of the Intel server market. If GIGABYTE wanted to become a top-tier server manufacturer, it needed to take a chance on something different in order to leapfrog the competition. 


At the beginning of 2016, AMD started searching for server vendors to co-operate with, hoping to make a rapid return to the server market, and gave GIGABYTE their first AMD EPYC product development blueprints. After related discussions, GIGABYTE believed that the EPYC single-socket platform was very competitive, allowing for a new promotion strategy of a “no-compromise single socket” server that could match the capabilities of a traditional dual socket server. In the mainstream server market occupied by Intel’s Xeon dual-socket platform, AMD’s processor could create a new market segment with a clearly differentiated product. GIGABYTE was therefore pleased to accept AMD’s proposal, and agreed to waive any NRE (one-time engineering fee), footing the development costs itself to become one of the world’s first companies to begin development, manufacturing and sales of the AMD EPYC platform. The world’s first product based on AMD EPYC's “no compromise single socket” strategy was born: GIGABYTE's MZ31-AR0 server motherboard.

Firing on All Cylinders – GIGABYTE Introduces the Most Comprehensive AMD EPYC Product Lineup

Since AMD had not been involved in the server industry for a long time, the initial development of the first generation EPYC processor “Naples” was not so smooth, and GIGABYTE also spent a while working with AMD in the subsequent specification and development process. Fortunately, AMD EPYC used the same x86 architecture as Intel’s Xeon processors, so it could be seamlessly integrated into the same existing x86 ecosystem. After being released worldwide in June 2017, it quickly received positive feedback from the market. Although it received no big breakthrough in sales in the North American market due to the traditional impression of a server requiring dual socket processors, in Europe the advantages of a “no-compromise single socket” server were quickly recognized by customers.

Only a few months after the MZ31-AR0 EPYC server motherboard was launched, it had already obtained stable orders from large data centers in Germany. GIGABYTE also achieved success and expanded market share with the platform in various market segments such as oil & gas exploration, automotive design and HPC (High Performance Computing); by the end of 2018, the server market share of AMD EPYC had jumped to 3.5%, successfully breaking Intel Xeons’ stranglehold of the market.《Glossary: What is HPC?

At COMPUTEX Taipei in the early summer of 2019, AMD President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su confidently predicted that the ultra-high performance new generation EPYC “Rome” processor, with a 7nm design manufactured by TSMC, would comprehensively surpass Intel’s Xeon in HPC, cloud, enterprise and other applications, and would lead the server industry to upgrade from PCIe Gen 3 to PCIe Gen 4. At the same time, GIGABYTE used its deep friendship and co-operation with AMD to develop the world’s most complete 2nd Generation AMD EPYC processor server product lineups on the market, which was shown in GIGABYTE’s private showroom during COMPUTEX where it was introduced to important customers around the world. Among the visiting VIPs to the showroom was AMD President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su, who praised GIGABYTE’s products. During the visit the high levels of both sides also reached a new agreement on future co-operation.

AMD President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su talks about the excellent partnership between GIGABYTE and AMD

On the 7th of August 2019, AMD officially released a new generation of processors that will rewrite the history books of the server industry – the 7nm EPYC “Rome” CPU. And now, as a leading manufacturer of AMD EPYC server products, GIGABYTE is ready to demonstrate with confidence some of the achievements to the global server industry, including:

● Both the fastest to market and most comprehensive server product line in the world
● GIGABYTE servers equipped with 2nd Generation EPYC processors have broken world records in computing performance
● The earliest application and optimization of EPYC Rome server products, as well as its introduction into the edge computing market

Learn More: 

The Advantages and Applications of AMD EPYC Server Processors

AMD’s first generation EPYC processor “Naples” has been acclaimed by customers in applications such as cloud data centers, oil & gas exploration, automotive 3D design and high performance computing. In the current EPYC series product roadmap there are three confirmed generations of processors: “Naples”, “Rome” and “Milan”. Each new generation not only makes a leap forward in manufacturing process and performance improvements, but is also pin-to-pin drop in compatible with the previous generation. Therefore, server motherboards and systems developed for the 1st generation “Naples” processor will be able to upgrade to the new generation “Rome” CPU (and likewise, “Rome” motherboards and systems will be able to upgrade to “Milan”). This product feature greatly guarantees the continuity and stability of the hardware ecosystem using the EPYC processor, and increases user's trust in the EPYC processor series.《Related: Did You Know? GIGABYTE’s Servers Are Helping to Launch Europe’s Space Ambitions

◆ GIGABYTE's AMD EPYC “Naples” / “Rome” Drop-In Products 
MZ31MZ01R151-ZR271-ZR181-ZR281-ZG291-ZH261-ZS451-ZW291-Z, TO22-Z Series
All of GIGABYTE's server products developed for the 1st Generation AMD EPYC “Naples” processor can also be directly upgraded* to the new generation “Rome” processor. With GIGABYTE's exclusive technology, DDR4 memory speed can be upgraded to 3200 MHz supported by the Rome generation to improve computing performance. 
* Supported by Version 2.0 / A00 products only

GIGABYTE's 1st Wave Release of EPYC “Rome” Products and Their Applications

Even before it was launched, AMD EPYC’s new generation “Rome” processor received positive attention and recognition from many in the server industry including from supercomputing or HPC fields. And “Rome” has not only established a good reputation, but actual sales demand has been even more impressive – after launching, orders from cloud data centers in the mainstream server market have been growing rapidly, and AMD’s “no-compromise single socket” marketing strategy for EPYC is also paying dividends in increasing product sales.

◆ GIGABYTE's EPYC Rome platform MZ32-AR0 Server Motherboard & R152-ZR272-Z Server Series
This server series delivers optimized specifications from a single socket “Rome” CPU, including an OCP 2.0 slot to integrate a variety of networking cards. Corresponding to market demand, the MZ32 motherboard can also be purchased separately, providing a different sales channel to expand AMD EPYC market share.

◆ GIGABYTE's EPYC Rome Platform R182-Z & R282-Z Server Series
The R182-Z & R282-Z Series have been designed for the mainstream dual-socket server market, and can meet the diverse needs of different customers in this market due to a modular system design: whether it is a 1U or 2U All Flash Array model that can meet high-performance storage trends, or a model that can support up to 3 GPGPU accelerator cards that can be used for AI or High Performance Computing. The design of GIGABYTE servers are also optimized to ensure the best balance between cooling & power efficiency.

These GIGABYTE systems have been one of the first to feature the new easy swap OCP3.0 expansion slot which supports high speed PCIe Gen 4.0 transfer speeds for optimal network card expansion possibilities, and due to strategic co-operation with Broadcom this complete product line has also been one of the earliest to support Broadcom’s 200GbE OCP 3.0 NIC.

◆ GIGABYTE's EPYC Rome Platform H262-Z Server Series
Designed to build a supercomputing cluster or for HCI (hyper-converged infrastructure), this 2U 4 Node high density server series features eight EPYC Rome processors in a compact 2U chassis, as well as a dual redundant fan wall design to guarantee that the H262-Z series can operate at maximum performance. Systems also include an onboard Aspeed CMC (Central Management Controller), which can perform system status monitoring both at the chassis level and the node level, by connecting to the Aspeed remote management chip on each individual node.

This allows all nodes to be managed* through a single CMC connection, replacing 4 MLAN ports to reduce the number of cables and ports requires on a top of rack switch. 《Glossary: What is Hyper-Converged Infrastructure?
* Only supports IPMI management interface, no iKVM functionality.

More Recent and Innovative AMD EPYC “Rome” Products from GIGABYTE

The initial release of GIGABYTE’s AMD EPYC Rome Series products was immediately followed by a second wave of new products, and even more are also still in development, especially for new and emerging applications such as AI and edge computing. GIGABYTE’s overall product plan is based on completely integrated solutions, and a variety of differentiated products that include optimized GPU support will be continuously introduced into the market.

◆  GIGABYTE's EPYC Rome Platform H242-Z Server Series
GIGABYTE is the first in the industry to introduce a 2U four single socket node AMD EPYC “Rome” server designed for the emerging edge computing market. The server features a compact chassis less than 500mm in depth that can provide optimal computing and storage performance despite the minimized power consumption of each node, perfectly satisfying the specific requirements of the edge. The server also features two different chassis designs – either rear accessible or front accessible node trays, allowing this product to suit different data center designs and become more user friendly. 

GIGABYTE is also planning to release 5G Edge and Edge AI products, upgrading offerings to a complete solution and bringing more surprises to the edge computing server market, as well as investing into even more research and development in order to provide solutions for other diverse needs. Always aiming to “Upgrade Your Life”, GIGABYTE will join forces with our industry peers to move towards a high performance computing future.

Realtion Tags
Hyper-Converged Infrastructure
Big Data
Edge Computing
HPC
AMD EPYC
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