AMD EPYC 7402P Market Positioning
Thes chips are not released in a vacuum instead, they have competition on both the Intel and AMD sides. When you purchase a server and select a CPU, it is important to see the value of a platform versus its competitors.
AMD EPYC 7402P v. AMD Alternatives
AMD did not make it easy to pick a CPU with this generation. Take a low-end AMD EPYC server complete with an AMD EPYC 7402P, 256GB of DDR4-3200, 25GbE, and boot drives and you are generally in the $6000 range.
If you push your budget to around $7200, you can swap in an AMD EPYC 7502P with 33% more cores for about 20% more cost. On more fully configured servers, the price delta goes down from there. It can be hard not to take that additional 8 cores for more performance per dollar.
At the same time, one can spec down to a single AMD EPYC 7302P CPU with performance similar to two Intel Xeon Silver CPUs and save another $425 that can be deployed elsewhere.
The wildcard is that AMD can easily handle more RAM and more cores in a single socket. 24 cores are less than half of what one can put in the socket with a 64-core AMD EPYC 7702P. If your TCO model is built on more compute at lower power and lower cost per core, then the EPYC 7702P is the right answer. The real cost there is lower clock speeds, but one can easily make a case for this.
AMD EPYC 7402P v. Intel Xeon Alternatives
This is very hard. The AMD EPYC 7402P series brings performance per core rivaling modern Intel Xeon Scalable Gold and Platinum CPUs. From a price perspective, AMD is pricing the EPYC 7402P closer to the $/core of the Intel Xeon Silver 4200 line.
We added the Intel Xeon Scalable mainstream (non-airline booking ticketing fare SKUs e.g. T, V, Y, N, M, L) for some context.
The AMD EPYC 7402P performance is competing at the segment to the far left of the blue bars for Intel Xeon Platinum 8200 and Gold 6200 SKUs, but is priced on a per-core basis more like low-end Xeon Silver SKUs.
What is more, the AMD EPYC 7402P has more PCIe lanes than two Intel Xeon Platinum 8200 or 9200 CPUs. It also utilizes PCIe Gen4 so each lane is effectively twice as fast. If you need a lot of I/O, then you are looking at using two of Intel’s midrange CPUs to equal the small black bar shown for the EPYC 7402P.
Once we started to get our internal test data back, and we learned pricing, it became harder to buy Intel Xeon. Some of the key areas we are buying Intel Xeon for is around Intel Optane DC Persistent memory, something that AMD currently cannot match.
Intel will be competitive as it finally gets to 10nm in 2020. At that point, AMD will be readying its next-generation EPYC 7003 parts. Still, as of when we wrote this review, this is a very one-sided picture.
With the AMD EPYC 7402P launched, we actually think it may represent the best value processor on the market. That is because of balance. Looking at pure cost per core, it is relatively inexpensive, but it is not the lowest ratio in AMD’s stable. What it does have is a sweet spot of enough processing power, memory, and I/O to potentially retire 1.5 to 2 dual Intel Xeon E5-2630 V4 era servers. If you are paying for VMware per-socket licensing, moving 3:1 or 4:1 may entirely justify the business case of moving to EPYC. If you are a Linux shop using open source software the AMD P-series pricing is excellent compared to other CPUs on the market.
Core for core, there are still a few areas that Intel Xeon Scalable processors excel. For example, if you are a developer that wants VNNI, your are a HPC customer that demands AVX-512, or if you need Intel Optane DC Persistent memory. If you specifically try to bypass the massive cache usage, Intel performance can look good. Still, for most of today’s workloads, AMD has a distinct advantage due to its more modern architecture. Intel is heading this way, but its competitive products are not yet in the market.
The biggest question on the AMD EPYC 7402P is competition from the AMD EPYC 7302P and EPYC 7502P with eight fewer and more cores respectively. Our reviews of those are already written and in the queue to help you decide further, but we wanted to start in the middle of the SKU stack to put a guidepost out there for our readers. In the EPYC 7001 generation, we purchased many EPYC 7401P systems after our testing. In this generation, the EPYC 7402P will likely be our CPU of choice as well.