AMD EPYC 3251 Benchmarks and Review the Challenger We Need

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AMD EPYC 3251 Memory

The first time that we tried an AMD Wallaby platform, we saw the AMD EPYC 3251 performed slightly lower than what we expected. The reason for this was perhaps memory bandwidth. We found the platform running at DDR4-2400 speeds.

AMD EPYC 3251 Memory
AMD EPYC 3251 Memory

A quick conference call later, and the memory was running at DDR4-2666/ DDR4-2667. That is a big deal.

AMD EPYC 3251 Memory DDR4 2667
AMD EPYC 3251 Memory DDR4 2667

The AMD EPYC 3000 series supports two memory channels per die. The higher-end AMD EPYC 3000 SKUs support quad channel memory across two NUMA nodes. That quad channel memory is analogous to the Intel Xeon D-2100 series quad channel operation. The single die parts, like the AMD EPYC 3251 we are testing has two memory channels. If you compare this to the Intel Xeon D-1500 line, it is similar, but with an important difference. AMD EPYC 3251 8-core parts can utilize DDR4-2667 while the Intel Xeon D-1541 8-core parts can only utilize DDR4-2400. Also, we showed above that if you are designing an AMD EPYC 3000 series appliance you can use RDIMMs as well as use different speed DIMMs, perhaps if you do not need the bandwidth and want to save a slight amount of power.

AMD EPYC 3251 Virtualization and Containers

As one may expect the AMD EPYC 3251 can run virtual machines and containers. Since this is the first review online of the platform, we wanted to at least show that it works. Here is CentOS 7 (1804 iso installer) running in a virtual machine on an Ubuntu KVM host:

AMD EPYC 3251 KVM Virtualization CentOS On Ubuntu
AMD EPYC 3251 KVM Virtualization CentOS On Ubuntu

Since the trend is toward containers, here is the system running Redis in a Docker container:

AMD EPYC 3251 Docker Redis
AMD EPYC 3251 Docker Redis

One of our readers asked about ACSCctl for IOMMU which is important for virtualizing hardware these days.

AMD EPYC 3251 ACSCtl
AMD EPYC 3251 ACSCtl

As you can see, the platform has ACSCtl support for IOMMU. This is all expected since the AMD EPYC 3251 is built upon Zen which underpins the AMD EPYC 7000 series.

Next, we are going to move onto our benchmarking, power consumption, then discuss the competitive landscape before giving our final thoughts.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Do ya’ll have the 16 core one?

    I’m going to ask our PM team if their fixin’ to make up our appliance with embedded 3000 EPYC.

  2. I’ll read the rest later, but you’re right on the need for an Intel alternative. These side channel attacks and the embedded clock bugs show a need in the market for a second x86 supplier.

    Can someone make a damn mini ITX motherboard with these, 4 DIMM slits and some NVMe headers?

  3. Are the single die parts way cheaper? The higher core counts looked like huge cost savings but I’m not seeing any on AMD’s site. Only 4 SKUs there https://www.amd.com/en/products/specifications/embedded/8161

    Model: AMD EPYC™ Embedded 3251
    Product Type: SOC
    Family: AMD EPYC™ Embedded Processors
    Line: EPYC Embedded SOC
    OPN: PE3251BGR88AF
    TDP: 55W
    CPU Type: Zen
    CPU Base Freq.: 2.5GHz
    CPU Max Freq.: 3.1GHz
    # of CPU Cores: 8
    # of Threads: 16
    GPU Support: No
    Security Processor: Yes
    Total L2 Cache: 4MB
    Total L3 Cache: 16MB
    System Memory Type: DDR4
    DDR4 Rate (Max): 2666 MHz
    Memory Controller: Dual Channel
    ECC: Yes
    USB 2.0: 0
    USB 3.0: 4
    USB 3.1 Gen1: 0
    USB 3.1 Gen2: 0
    SATA: 8
    Low Speed Interfaces: EMMC, eSPI, GPIO, I2C, LPC, SMBus, SPI, UART
    # of PCI controllers: 8
    Gen3: 32
    Gen2/3: 0
    Gen2: 0
    Ambient Temp Range: 0-105°C
    Enhanced Temp Support: Extended Temp (0-105°C)
    Infrastructure: SP4
    Last Time Buy: 2028
    Recommended for new designs: Yes

  4. Unless I missed something, but who makes the NIC? The lspci output showed the NIC as an AMD network card, but who did AMD license the NIC from? What network driver is it the chip using? That could provide some clues.

  5. I’m just surprised AMD building their own NIC IP. I suspect they licensed it as many others do. E.g. Asmedia makes the chipsets.

  6. Hi Misha, I understand it is an SoC. Typically what you do as part of SoC designs is license IP (in chip design IP means a blob of VHDL / Verilog code), so let’s say I design an ARM SoC, I get an ARM core from ARM, I may get a video core IP from Imigation, a flash controller IP from someone else. Yes, you can design pieces in-house too. Something like networking is so complicated and I don’t recall AMD having any experience in there, I doubt they started from scratch and just licensed IP from a Marvell or some other company. I’m curious what IP it is unless it is truly their own design.

  7. Finally, Patrick, thanks.

    I would assume that’s $315 USD in bulk lots of 1000 for the chip? Wholesaler price?
    So could we assume at least $550 / $600 US motherboards using this?

    I’d still strongly consider it, it certainly seems to perform. I’d prefer perhaps something 15w lighter and $100 lighter, but we’ll have to wait for more boards.

    As I posted on the forums, incredibly hugely disappointing that AsRock, SuperMicro, Tyan all either told me “nope, no interest in this!” or flat out didn’t respond!

    These would make a monster FreeNAS machine, especially the 3201 model with 8c/8t at only 30Watts!

    Patrick, do you know if this problem impacts the Epyc 7xxx or 3xxx series?
    https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=196683

    https://forums.freenas.org/index.php?threads/ryzen-stability-on-11-0-u4.59017/

  8. $315 is the tray pricing. Anyone buying these embedded parts is likely buying quantities for motherboard runs.

    I believe that kernel bug is for Ryzen users and has not been confirmed on EPYC.

  9. @kpin:

    I hadn’t thought of that, it seems unlikely but I wouldn’t put it past them to try that.
    I did contact SuperMicro, Tyan and AsRock about this CPU multiple times since Feb and have either had no response or an outright “no” from them, which was disapointing.

    However, SuperMicro already do some AMD Epyc stuff, so they aren’t ‘frightened’ of Intel, to my knowledge.

  10. We need a competitive board to the likes of SMCI’s x11sdv-*c-tlnf8 boards. (I hope I got the model name right from memory.)

    Would be great if we could get the same treats the Intel line currently has.

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