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AMD Zen 16 Core CPU Pictured, Ready For Prime Time

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Dec 10, 2016
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We’re only three days away from AMD’s big “New Horizon” preview event for Zen in Austin Texas and we’re already getting a taste of one of AMD’s high-end Zen chips. The CPU in question is a sixteen core, 32 thread “Naples” part. Which has been pictured in its natural habitat, a server enclosure.

Naples is AMD’s next generation Zen based top of the line enterprise chip that the company hopes to take-on Intel with next year, in the highly lucrative server market. It’s by far the largest and most powerful CPU system-on-a-chip that the company has ever developed.

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This particular sixteen core chip is only one of several variants, the highest end of which comes in a 32 core, 64 thread configuration. Which is the largest core and thread count in x86 CPU history. Easily outnumbering the 24 cores of Intel’s largest server processor to date, the E7-8890 v4.

A Closer Look At AMD’s Next Big Server Chip, Naples

AMD Naples Dual Socket, 64 Core, Prototype Board ( Via Anandtech.com )

The company has been shipping engineering samples of its upcoming enterprise platform built around Naples over the past several months. We got our first sneak peak at it earlier this year when AMD showcased its dual socket prototype board equipped with two 32 core Naples CPUs. Housing a total of 64 cores and 128 threads makes this little box effectively a mini super-computer.

The leaked photos above showcase a similar but much more compact configuration. Featuring two Zen SOCs inside an actively cooled server tray that’s also equipped with two Radeon Pro graphics accelerators. The cooling solution is the standard four fan fair. Pushing cool air through components inside the enclosure and out the back. Cooling the Naples SOCs directly are two low profile high density aluminum fin heatsinks.

If we zoom in on the Naples package one thing becomes instantly obvious, this chip is big. It is significantly larger than the standard desktop Summit Ridge package. It also comes in an LGA – Land Grid Array – configuration, where the pins are in the socket and the contacts are on the bottom of the chip. This is, while quite different from the PGA – Pin Grid Array – solution we’ve come accustomed to with AMD’s desktop chips is actually very similar to AMD’s previous server chips. All of which have come in LGA packages since the 2006 introduction of Socket F and the original Opteron server processors.

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Backside of AMD AM4 Zen Summit Ridge & Bristol Ridge Processors via hwsw

Zen In Servers And Desktops, The Specs

WCCFtechAMD NaplesAMD Summit Ridge
Zen Cores328
Threads6416
L1 Instruction Cache32 KB x 3232 KB x 8
L1 Data Cache64 KB x 3264 KB x 8
L2 Cache512 KB x 32512 KB x 8
L3 Cache64 MB16 MB
Base Clock1.4GhzUp To 3.6 GHz
Turbo Clock2.8GhzUp To 4.0 GHz
MarketEnterpriseDesktop

One particularly interesting part of Naple’s  specs is the cache. Naples features an astronomically large L3 cache, half a gigabyte large in fact. Which is simply unprecedented for an x86 server CPU.

AMD’s Foray Into Servers Begins In The Second Quarter Of 2017

The last family of server CPUs from AMD were introduced in 2012. They were based on the updated Bulldozer microarchitecture, code named Piledriver. Which succeeded the original Bulldozer chips that had come out a year earlier in 2011. AMD’s decision not to follow up with Steamroller and Excavator – two cores that succeeded Piledriver in APUs – meant that it had effectively conceded the server market to Intel from that point on.

Naples is the very first brand new high performance enterprise processor from the company since then. It marks the company’s official re-entry into the high performance server arena in more than half a decade. After such a long absence the company had to rebuild trust with its partners and prove that it’s once again ready to take on Intel in this $18 billion dollar market.

It promised to deliver a highly competitive CPU micro architecture to the market and that it did. Zen is a brand new, clean-sheet microarchitecture whose development has been headed by none other than Jim Keller. The very same Keller who was instrumental in bringing AMD’s most successful processors, the original Athlon and original Opteron, to market a decade ago.

Several billion dollars and four years later the result is that a single Zen core delivers double the performance of a Bulldozer core and uses less power. The effort to build a new core from scratch paid off. A point that the company drove home with an incredibly impressive public performance demo a few months ago.

AMD announced Naples earlier this year and recently announced planned market availability by Q2 2017. It’s been a long journey and the last mile is always the hardest. Capturing just 10% of this 18 billion dollar market would generate more revenue than the company had ever earned at any given year in its history. What’s left now is for CEO Lisa Su and her team to execute.

 

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