It was a cold day in February when we were in London to cover the AMD EPYC Embedded 3000 Series Launch. On paper, the platform sounds positively promising. We saw the AMD EPYC 3000 embedded part after a lot of sleuthing at Computex as we showed in the article: Piecing Together the iEi Puzzle AMD EPYC 3000 Spotted in the Wild. Today we have an exclusive and exciting bit to share: hands-on with the AMD EPYC 3000. Specifically, we have the AMD EPYC 3251 8-core single die part and have generated a few numbers.
Wallaby with the AMD EPYC 3251
For our review, we are using the AMD EPYC 3251 on the AMD Wallaby platform. Generally, we do not use development platforms for reviews, but this is the first platform we have been able to get. It has taken months of pestering anyone we could. Here is the AMD Wallaby platform in all its glory with the single die AMD EPYC 3000 CPU. One can see that there are many features not present such as an additional PCIe slot and additional RAM slots. We think that these would be placed with a dual-die configuration.
There are a few features we wanted to point out. First, as a single-die AMD EPYC 3000 series platform, one has access to two DDR4 DIMM channels. One also gets 32x PCIe 3.0 or high speed I/O lanes. There is no need to parse these lanes out for Infinity Fabric like on the larger AMD EPYC 7000 series CPU. We have a total of 24x PCIe lanes exposed via slots with the Wallaby platform.
As a reference, here is the AMD EPYC 3000 series SKU list from the launch event. You can see that the AMD EPYC 3251 is the 8 core, 16 thread part in the middle of the SKU stack.
This is the top-end single die AMD EPYC solution at the moment, so we wanted to explore what it has to offer.
AMD EPYC 3000 Series Networking
Here is a fun fact, each AMD Zen die has up to 4x 10GbE MACs onboard. On the desktop parts, these are not used. On the AMD EPYC 7000 series, these are likewise not used. As Cavium learned with the ThunderX (1) generation, and AMD learned with the EPYC 7000 series, cloud providers tend to like using their own NICs. Even companies like HPE and Dell EMC utilize LOMs instead of the Intel C620 series chipset NICs.
The AMD EPYC 3000 series is interesting because it targets the embedded industry. The embedded industry is a different market segment because appliance vendors tend to make the entire stack from appliance to software. Here, the embedded 10GbE NIC have a chance to be used. The AMD Wallaby platform is the first that we have seen in over a year of EPYC and over a year and a half of Zen that we have seen the AMD 10GbE NIC.
Now presenting, the AMD Zen 10GbE NIC:
Our AMD Wallaby platform has dual SFP+ cage NICs. We were able to pass 10Gbps of traffic through the NIC, but we wanted to focus more on the CPU performance and looking at more of the platform.
AMD EPYC 3251 8 Core SoC
We are going to get to performance later in the article. We wanted to first show that this platform supports virtualizations and feature sets that align with the AMD EPYC.
There are a total of 8 cores. With 2-way SMT that gives us 16 threads. AMD’s SMT, unlike Intel’s Hyper-Threading, is not susceptible to the L1TF Foreshadow security vulnerability. That means if you are running untrusted code VMs on your embedded platforms, you may have to turn off Hyper-Threading on Intel to make the Xeon D-1500 or Xeon D-2100 more secure. With the AMD EPYC 3000 series, you do not have to do so.
Base clock speeds are 2.5Ghz for the AMD EPYC 3251 part with maximum all core turbo boosts of 3.1GHz. As we will see, the increased clock speeds help the solution perform very well. TDP on the AMD EPYC 3251 is 55W (note current spec is 55W, originally was 50W) putting it between the Xeon D-1500 and D-2100 series. L3 cache comes in at 16MB which is much larger than the Xeon D-1500 and comparable to the combined L2/ L3 cache setup of the Skylake-SP derived Xeon D-2100 cores. The net result is a relatively power efficient part with the capacity to deliver a lot of performance.