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What To Expect From AMD's Threadripper And EPYC Processors.

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Technology Investing


  • AMD's EPYC 7601 has been reviewed, and it is a competitive product.
  • Threadripper is priced competitively, but it is going after a market that has not been established.
  • The server market is very risk averse, and very slow to change, so AMD growth will be slow in this market, but does seem likely.

n the past few days, more information regarding AMD's Threadripper and EPYC Server chips have become available. Although neither are high volume markets compared to the PC market, the margins on these products, particularly server, is very high. Considering how little AMD (NASDAQ:AMD) currently has in each segment, this is a growth opportunity for the company. Or is it?

AMD is again trying a tactic that did not work with the Bulldozer line on the desktop, trying to downplay the importance of single-threaded performance. At first they stated it was really multi-threaded performance that mattered. When this failed, and the Bulldozer line was found wanting, the company tried to convince everyone that APU processing (via HUMA) was really important. It failed to convince. Now AMD is again focusing on multi-threaded performance with the Ryzen line, but at least the single-threaded performance is significantly better than before. Oddly, due to AMD's gimped design, the processor can have performance problems when moving beyond four cores that will impact its acceptance in certain workloads.

This has to do with the L3 cache and the way AMD made the chips. There are four cores per CPU Complex (hereafter referred to as CCX). Each CCX has 8 MB L3 cache, and each of the four cores connects to a 2 MB L3 cache directly, and hits it full speed. Hits to the other 6 MB within the CCX is only slightly slower, but still fast.

Any processor beyond four cores is not monolithic. For example an eight-core processor has two CPU Complexes (CCX), and two different 8 MB L3 caches. Whenever a processor from one CCX needs to access the other CCX, it goes through AMD's "Infinity Fabric" comes with comes with a large latency penalty.

But, these are actually on the same die (called Zeppelin), whereas anything

This article was written by

Technology Investing profile picture
I primarily invest based on knowledge of technology, and rarely if ever try to time stocks. The only way I've been effective investing is by understanding the technology behind the products a company sells, and the market they sell in, while being dispassionate and unbiased.

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