AMD EPYC 7371 Power Consumption
The other side of the equation is power consumption. The AMD EPYC 7371 is putting up some impressive benchmark numbers, but that does have an associated cost. Here is what we saw on our PDU after a few runs:
- Idle: 83W
- 70% Load: 246W
- 100% Load: 321W
- Peak: 374W
Note these results were taken using a 208V Schneider Electric / APC PDU at 17.8C and 71% RH. Our testing window shown here had a +/- 0.3C and +/- 2% RH variance.
First off, we were told this is a 200W TDP CPU which puts its TDP above the AMD EPYC 7601. This may change as they are released next quarter. On the other hand, when one is talking about hundreds or thousands of dollars per core for a software license, a bit of extra power consumption per node ends up being a sub 1% TCO delta.
More intriguing is that we actually put this into the Gigabyte H261-Z60 server we reviewed recently both in single and dual socket configurations. Officially, that server is not specified to support to 200W TDP CPUs in its 8 sockets (2U 4-node) design. The server was able to maintain the 3.1GHz all core turbo base clock while keeping CPU temperatures acceptable. We saw slightly less time in the maximum boost frequencies in that design. For a CPU that is not officially available, and therefore not officially qualified in that dense compute platform to perform so well out of the box was extremely impressive.
Keeping a longer-term view in mind, most expect AMD EPYC 2 “Rome” CPUs to have SKUs in excess of 200W per socket in 2019 so server vendors in less dense 1U and 2U designs that 2U4N offerings already contemplated cooling chips with 200W TDP+ CPUs. Intel chips will use less power, but $15-20 per month is under $1200 over five years. Given the cost of software licenses, and the systems that use frequency optimized SKUs, this is a minor TCO delta which is why we are going to start seeing CPU and accelerator TDP jump over the next few generations.
AMD EPYC 7371 Market Positioning
AMD has a number of competitive vectors. The obvious competition is the Intel Xeon Scalable line. AMD also has P series parts that compete in this market. We wanted to explore the market positioning of the chip since it is not released in a vacuum.
AMD EPYC 7371 v. Intel Xeon
Performance wise, each AMD EPYC 7371 CPU is competitive with either dual Intel Xeon Gold 6134 or single Gold 6130 CPUs. We do not have the hard data from our lab, but the Intel Xeon Gold 6142 will trade blows with the AMD EPYC 7371. There are workloads that favor AMD. There are others that favor Intel. Still, AMD is competitive and if you are in a per-core licensing model, for example with Windows Server. Prior to the AMD EPYC 7371 this was starkly the domain of Intel Xeon. With the EPYC 7371, there is competition in this market.
We did not get firm pricing on this CPU. The AMD EPYC 7351 costs around $1250 and we expect there to be a premium for the EPYC 7371. AMD can justify a $2600 price on this SKU and be competitive with Intel head-to-head. The options are the Intel Xeon Gold 6130, that the EPYC 7371 will usually perform better than, the Intel Xeon Gold 6142 which we can extrapolate will be competitive with the EPYC 7371, or two Intel Xeon Gold 6134 CPUs.
There is a great question here regarding how do you price the parts given what is available in this range.
Driving this is a more complex topic than base clocks and turbo clocks. We narrowed our list to show what is driving many of our benchmark numbers. Not all chips will sit at turbo frequencies. Base frequencies and all core turbo frequencies become important. Here is a simplified view that will make sense given the benchmark results we have seen.
Here the reason why the dual Intel Xeon Gold 6134 setup is so much faster than the Intel Xeon Gold 6130 single CPU solution makes more sense. Base clocks are much higher and the 16-core turbo speeds (with two Gold 6134’s) are about 32% faster than the Gold 6130. That is also why the AMD EPYC 7371 is so intriguing in this space because it has the clock speed to near dual Intel Xeon Gold 6134 levels of performance both in single and multi-threaded workloads, in a single socket.
Intel still has some “exotic” parts like the Gold 6144 and Platinum 8156 that minimize cores pushing clock speeds and cache per core. On a per-socket basis, the AMD EPYC 7371 is changing the narrative for mainstream frequency optimized server parts. Whereas that has largely been an Intel domain, AMD now has an extremely competitive part. The EPYC 7371 with more cores, more memory capacity, and more PCIe lanes per socket and can go toe-to-toe with Intel’s mainstream frequency optimized parts for per core performance.
AMD EPYC 7371 v. AMD EPYC
While the AMD EPYC 7371 versus Intel Xeon is a fairly complex question, versus AMD EPYC the story is much simpler. If you need frequency optimized parts for per core licensing or simply speeding up applications, get the AMD EPYC 7371. If you want more cores AMD has 24 and 32 core options. If you want less expensive single socket solutions, get the P series parts which offer an exceptional value.
This is a chip with a specific place in the server SKU stack.
The one area we think is intriguing, is the developer workstation. The AMD Threadripper 1950X and 2950X are great chips and are better suited to workstations than AMD EPYC. At the same time, if you needed 128 PCIe lanes per socket or you needed more memory capacity with RDIMM support, the AMD EPYC 7001 series has been attractive but the clock speeds have been too low to realistically use in modern desktop workstations. Plus, four NUMA nodes in Windows is far from ideal for a desktop. At the same time, with a 3.8GHz 8-core turbo clock, this is the first AMD EPYC SKU which is in the range of the desktop parts which you might be able to get by on using it as a workstation part.
In fact, prior to writing this review, I put one of the EPYC 7371 chips into an ATX motherboard that is in our review pipeline and swapped it for my personal Threadripper 1950X to write this review. There are places where the Threadripper is superior, having fewer NUMA nodes is an advantage. At the same time, it is perfectly usable as a desktop which is something I would not have recommended with the first generation AMD EPYC SKUs.
With clock speeds approaching standalone desktop levels, Windows Server 2019, VMware, and Citrix administrators are going to have a new VDI processor option in the datacenter.
Make no mistake, the AMD EPYC 7371 is a big deal. This will be AMD’s first publicly available frequency optimized part. AMD did not shoot for the low-end of Intel’s stack. Instead, they are delivering a part that is extremely competitive and Intel does not have a great direct answer to. This will change the server narrative as henceforth one cannot simply dismiss AMD EPYC as a high core count multi-threaded performance design. Instead, with the AMD EPYC 7371 it can compete, and win, head-to-head versus Intel Xeon Skylake-SP.