AMD EPYC 7742 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 7742 v. AMD Alternatives
When we look at the AMD EPYC 7742 compared to other AMD EPYC 7002 series offerings, we see that it is on the top of the pricing spectrum. You can read more about AMD’s SKU methodology in our piece AMD EPYC 7002 SKU List and Value Analysis.
Here you can see that pricing per core is the highest among its stablemates for single-socket applications. We are looking simply at SKU pricing here. On a TCO basis, there are clear benefits to using a larger CPU.
When we look at a cost per base core clock (list in $USD/ cores * base GHz), we can see that it is still at the higher-end of AMD’s stack.
For a single-socket application, our guidance is likely to be the EPYC 7702P which is a significantly lower list price part yet offers many of the same features and much of the same performance. For dual-socket applications, the EPYC 7742 is a very strong option.
As a quick generational note, AMD has essentially doubled the core count over the EPYC 7601 and is offering more than twice the performance. If you did TCO calculations on AMD EPYC 7601 generation CPUs, there is likely an enormous delta between generations. If you are comparing compute cost versus cloud compute nodes, this is going to completely change the value equation.
We are using a single-socket platform here just to put a focus on the comparison to the Intel Xeon stack. If we had used dual-socket AMD EPYC 7742 configurations, we would have had to move to quad-socket Intel Xeon Scalable platforms for comparison sets.
AMD EPYC 7742 v. Intel Xeon Alternatives
If you have not read the performance section, please do so for context. Then look at this chart which shows the first chart from our AMD EPYC 7742 v. AMD Alternatives section above alongside its Intel counterparts:
The AMD EPYC 7742 is AMD’s highest list price part, but it is priced more similarly to Intel’s lower-end Xeon Gold 6200 series and higher-end Gold 5200 series. Said another way, AMD is setting a list price for the AMD EPYC 7742 more akin to how Intel prices mainstream parts.
We know Intel has been offering discounts to combat the AMD EPYC 7002 series even on smaller deal sizes. List prices, especially on its higher-end CPUs, are designed to have room for discounting. Assuming Intel is discounting the Xeon Platinum 8280 by 60-70%, it is competitive 2-for-1 against a list price EPYC 7742. There are plenty of quad-socket Xeon platforms on the market.
Intel does have the Xeon Platinum 9200 and is getting some traction in certain HPC segments, but it is effectively non-existent in the general-purpose CPU market. There is a big difference between a chip that can excel in virtualization along with other general-purpose workloads and one that has a niche defined by smaller segments of the HPC market.
Intel also has features like AVX-512 and VNNI. Perhaps the most compelling is Optane DCPMM. DCPMM in memory mode is the most common use case where it is used to expand memory. The App Direct mode where it is used as persistent storage is a game-changer for some applications. AMD does not have this feature. These are perhaps binary decisions on what one considers “must-have.” Note, if you are using 128GB DCPMMs in Memory Mode, it is not a “must-have” feature and instead AMD’s memory setup is likely to be better.
Realistically, Intel was supposed to have Ice Lake Xeons out with its new microarchitecture, PCIe Gen4, and more cores this year when the EPYC 7002 series launched. Instead, with Intel’s 10nm delays this AMD EPYC 7742 is essentially like later next year’s enormous performance jump halo Xeon, except it is available today from AMD and at a lower price.
Let us take a moment to discuss the comparison that we used in this piece. Dual Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 205W $10,009 list price CPUs versus a single AMD EPYC 7742 at 225W and $6,950 list price. That AMD EPYC 7742 technically has more PCIe I/O lanes and bandwidth with PCIe Gen4 support. It also does not utilize a PCH. One must remember that in addition to the CPUs, Intel platforms have additional TDP and cost in the Intel Xeon SP Lewisburg PCH.
That is absolutely an accomplishment for the AMD engineering team. There is a bit of luck in there as well since Intel is likely a year or so behind AMD with its Ice Lake Xeons which are unlikely to have the same core count but will add PCIe Gen4 and an updated microarchitecture in 10nm.
The bottom line is this: if you are buying servers right now, and not at least pricing out AMD EPYC 7002 series CPUs, whether that is the EPYC 7742 or another lower-end SKU, then you are effectively wasting money for your organization. If you have employees who are not bringing you competitive AMD EPYC 7002 quotes along with Xeon quotes, then they are not doing their jobs getting competitive bids. In a world where AMD only has a 0-20% performance edge, that would not be the case. Instead, AMD’s price and performance is closer to 2x. Even for many corporate contracts with large IT vendors like Dell and HPE where putting volume against certain SKUs yields discounts, the AMD EPYC 7742 can have a big enough impact that renders those discounts not attractive. This is especially so with use-cases such as general virtualization platforms where AMD can consolidate multiple mainstream Xeon sockets into each EPYC 7742 socket. If Intel is competing on price and selling what it has, great. If you are not evaluating EPYC 7742 or other SKUs in their stack, then you are not doing your organization justice.
As it stands, until Cooper Lake and Ice Lake Xeons hit, scheduled for 2020, the AMD EPYC 7742 is a peerless CPU in the market. Do your organization a favor and do your own due diligence on the EPYC 7002 series when planning purchases.