AMD’s new 32-core Naples chip ups the ante against Intel


With more and more of its fellow chip makers starting to challenge Intel Corp.’s dominance of the server market, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. has decided to join the fray as well.

The company today pulled back the curtains on an upcoming processor series that currently bears the internal code name of “Naples” and is based on the same 14-nanometer design as the Ryzen desktop chips it unveiled last week. Whereas the most powerful model in the latter lineup packs eight cores, Naples will have 32 with the capacity to run a total of 64 threads between them.

That’s compared with the maximum of 44 supported by Intel’s general-purpose Xeon E5 V4 processor series, which appears to be the main target in AMD’s sights. The company is upping the ante on the memory front too by enabling server makers to pair two Naples chips with up to 4 terabytes of RAM in their machines, or 25 percent more than what its rival enables for dual-socket configurations. As a result, the processor should lend itself well to running Apache Spark and the other in-memory systems that organizations use to perform real-time analytics.

Another use case AMD hopes to target is high-performance computing. Ars Technica reports that least four of the Radeon Instinct accelerators can be attached to each Naples chip in a server, which will make it possible to dramatically speed up certain workloads. The chip maker appears to be placing a particular emphasis on artificial intelligence, having recently introduced a machine learning framework designed to help developers to better exploit its hardware.

AMD refrained from releasing specific performance figures at today’s unveiling on account that Naples is still in development. However, the company did provide a glimpse into its capabilities in a demonstration that pitted a system equipped with two chips against a comparable machine based on Intel’s E5-2699A V4 processor. The test saw the Naples-powered server complete a seismic analysis about 50 percent faster in a configuration that limited its thread count to 44 to even the playing field.

AMD Senior Vice President Forrest Norrod told Computerworld that his company may launch less powerful iterations of the chip further down the line to reach a broader market. He added that industry reactions to Naples have so far has been “delightful,” which bodes well for the chip maker’s plan to take on Intel.

Image: AMD