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AMD talks tough as it drums up support for 32-core Zen server chip

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NewsHubAt CES, AMD launched its first Zen chips for PCs, called Ryzen. Next on deck is the 32-core server chip code-named Naples, which will ship in the coming months.
Naples doesn’t have an official name yet, but the expectations are high. While Ryzen is set up for success in PCs, it’s a different story for Naples, which has to take on Intel’s juiced-up Xeon chips, which are used in most servers today.
AMD is trying to drum up excitement for Naples, which will be released in the first half of this year. It’s promoting Naples using the same tactic as it did for Ryzen — by talking about the performance benefits of the Zen CPU.
The Zen CPU core in Naples will provide the same performance benefits as in the Ryzen chips. AMD claims a 40 percent improvement in instructions per cycle, an important metric to measure CPU performance, compared to the company’s previous Excavator architecture.
Naples is notable for its high 32-core count, more than Intel’s Xeon chips, which have up to 24 cores. The Intel Xeon Phi supercomputing chip has up to 72 cores, but it isn’t targeted at mainstream socketed servers.
A higher core count matters as servers can do more, Forrest Norrod, senior vice president and general manager at AMD, said in a blog entry this week.
More data is moving into the cloud, which is putting more strain on servers in data centers. More cores will add processing power to help servers respond quickly to search requests, recognize images, and process uploaded videos faster. A server with a single CPU will be able to do as much as a current two-socket server, Norrod said.
AMD will come out with more Zen-based server chips with lower core counts, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.
A bulk of the servers today use quad-core chips, and the actual market for 32-core Naples will be limited. The server market is dominated by two-socket servers, while Intel’s 24-core chips go into a four- and eight-socket servers, which are used by companies like financial institutions that need a lot of horsepower.

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