Disclaimer June 25th: The benchmark figures in this review have been superseded by our second follow-up Milan review article, where we observe improved performance figures on a production platform compared to AMD’s reference system in this piece.

Section by Ian Cutress

The arrival of AMD’s 3rd Generation EPYC processor family, using the new Zen 3 core, has been hotly anticipated. The promise of a new processor core microarchitecture, updates to the connectivity and new security options while still retaining platform compatibility are a good measure of an enterprise platform update, but the One True Metric is platform performance. Seeing Zen 3 score ultimate per-core performance leadership in the consumer market back in November rose expectations for a similar slam-dunk in the enterprise market, and today we get to see those results.

AMD EPYC 7003: 64 Cores of Milan

The headline numbers that AMD is promoting with the new generation of hardware is an increase in raw performance throughput of +19%, due to enhancements with the new core design. On top of this, AMD has new security features, optimizations for different memory configurations, and updated performance with the Infinity Fabric and connectivity.


3rd Gen EPYC

Anyone looking for the shorthand specifications on the new EPYC 7003 series, known by its codename Milan, will see great familiarity with the previous generation, however this time around AMD is targeting several different design points.

Milan processors will offer up to 64 cores and 128 threads, using AMD’s latest Zen 3 cores. The processor is designed with eight chiplets of eight cores each, similar to Rome, but this time all eight cores in the chiplet are connected, enabling an effective double L3 cache design for a lower overall cache latency structure. All processors will have 128 lanes of PCIe 4.0, eight channels of memory, with most models supporting dual processor connectivity, and new options for channel memory optimization are available. All Milan processors should be drop-in compatible with Rome series platforms with a firmware update.

AMD EPYC: Generation on Generation
AnandTech EPYC
7001
EPYC
7002
EPYC
7003
Codename Naples Rome Milan
Microarchitecture Zen Zen 2 Zen 3
Core Manufacturing 14nm 7nm 7nm
Max Cores/Threads 32 / 64 64 / 128 64 / 128
Core Complex 4C + 8MB 4C + 16MB 8C + 32MB
Memory Support 8 x DDR4-2666 8 x DDR4-3200 8 x DDR4-3200
Memory Capacity 2 TB 4 TB 4 TB
PCIe 3.0 x128 4.0 x128 4.0 x128
Security SME
SEV
SME
SEV
SME
SEV
SNP
Peak Power 180 W 240 W* 280 W
*Rome introduced 280 W for special HPC mid-cycle

One of the highlights here is that the new generation of processors will offer 280 W models to all customers – previous generations had only 240 W models for all and then 280 W for specific HPC customers, however this time around all customers can enable those high performance parts with the new core design.

This is exemplified if we do direct top-of-stack processor comparisons:

2P Top of Stack GA Offerings
AnandTech EPYC
7001
EPYC
7002
EPYC
7003
  Intel
Xeon
Processor 7601 7742 7763   6258R
uArch Zen Zen 2 Zen 3   Cascade
Cores 32 64 64   28
TDP 180 W 240 W 280 W   205 W
Base Freq 2200 2250 2450   2700
Turbo Freq 3200 3400 3500   4000
L3 Cache 64 MB 256 MB 256 MB   37.5 MB
PCIe 3.0 x128 4.0 x128 4.0 x128   3.0 x48
DDR4 8 x 2666 8 x 3200 8 x 3200   6 x 2933
DRAM Cap 2 TB 4 TB 4 TB   1 TB
Price $4200 $6950 $7890   $3950

The new top processor for AMD is the EPYC 7763, a 64-core processor at 280 W TDP offering 2.45 GHz base frequency and 3.50 GHz boost frequency. AMD claims that this processor offers +106% performance in industry benchmarks compared to Intel’s best 2P 28-core processor, the Gold 6258R, and +17% over its previous generation 280 W version the 7H12.

Peak Performance vs Per Core Performance

One of AMD’s angles with the new Milan generation is going to be targeted performance metrics, with the company not simply going after ‘peak’ numbers, but also taking a wider view for customers that need high per-core performance as well, especially for software that is invariably per-core performance limited or licensed. With that in mind, AMD’s F-series of ‘fast’ processors is now being crystallized in the stack.

AMD EPYC 7003 F-SeriesProcessors
  Cores
Threads
Base
Freq
Turbo
Freq
L3
(MB)
TDP
(W)
Price
F-Series
EPYC 75F3 32 / 64 2950 4000 256
( 8 x 32 )
280 W $4860
EPYC 74F3 24 / 48 3200 4000 240 W $2900
EPYC 73F3 16 / 32 3500 4000 240 W $3521
EPYC 72F3 8 / 16 3700 4100 180 W $2468

These processors have the peak single threaded values of anything else in AMD’s offering, along with the full 256 MB of L3 cache, and in our results get the best scores on a per-thread basis than anything else we’ve tested for enterprise across x86 and Arm – more details in the review. The F-series processors will come at a slight premium over the others.

AMD EPYC: The Tour of Italy

The first generation of EPYC was launched in June 2017. At that time, AMD was essentially a phoenix: rising from the ashes of its former Opteron business, and with a promise to return to high-performance compute with a new processor design philosophy.

At the time, the traditional enterprise customer base were not initially convinced – AMD’s last foray into the enterprise space with a new generation of paradigm-shifting processor core, while it had successes, fell flat as AMD had to stop itself from going bankrupt. Opteron customers were left with no updates in sight at the time, and to the willingness to jump on an unknown platform from a company that had stung so many in the past was not a positive prospect for many.

At the time, AMD put out a three year roadmap, detailing its next generations and the path the company would take to overcoming the 99% market share behemoth in performance and offerings. These were seen as lofty goals, and many sat back willing to watch others take the gamble.


1st Gen EPYC Launch

As the first generation Naples was launched, it offered impressive some performance numbers. It didn’t quite compete in all areas, and as with any new platform, there were some teething issues to begin. AMD kept the initial cycle to a few of its key OEM partners, before slowly broadening out the ecosystem. Naples was the first platform to offer extensive PCIe 3.0 and lots of memory support, and the platform initially targeted those storage or PCIe heavy deployments.


2nd Gen EPYC Launch

The second generation Rome, launched in August 2019 (+26 months) created a lot more fanfare. AMD’s newest Zen 2 core was competitive in the consumer space, and there were a number of key design changes in the SoC layout (such as moving to a NUMA flat design) that encouraged a number of skeptics to start to evaluate the platform. Such was the interest that AMD even told us that they had to be selective with which OEM platforms they were going to assist with before the official launch. Rome’s performance was good, and it scored a few high-profile supercomputer wins, but more importantly perhaps it showcased that AMD was able to execute on that roadmap back in June 2017.

That flat SoC architecture, along with the updated Zen 2 processor core (which actually borrowed elements from Zen 3) and PCIe 4.0, allowed AMD to start to compete on performance as well as simply IO, and AMD’s OEM partners have consistently been advertising Rome processors as compute platforms, often replacing two Intel 28-core processors for one AMD 64-core processor that also has higher memory support and more PCIe offerings. This also allows for compute density, and AMD was in a place where it could help drive software optimizations for its platform as well, extracting performance, but also moving to parity on the edge cases that its competitors were very optimized for. All the major hyperscalers also evaluated and deployed AMD-based offerings for their customers, as well as internally. AMD’s sticker of approval was pretty much there.


3rd Gen EPYC CPU

And so today AMD is continuing that tour of Italy with a trip to Milan, some +19 months after Rome. The underlying SoC layout is the same as Rome, but we have higher performance on the table, with additional security and more configuration options. The hyperscalers have already been getting the final hardware for six months for their deployments, and AMD is now in a position to help enable more OEM platforms at launch. Milan is drop-in compatible with Rome, which certainly helps, but with Milan covering more optimization points, AMD believes it is in a better position to target more of the market with high performance processors, and high per-core performance processors, than ever before.

AMD sees the launch of Milan as that third step in the roadmap that was shown back in June 2017, and validation on its ability to execute reliably for its customers but also offer above industry standard performance gains for its customers.

The next stop on the tour of Italy is Genoa, set to use AMD’s upcoming Zen 4 microarchitecture. AMD has also said that Zen 5 is in the pipeline.

Competition

AMD is launching this new generation of Milan processors approximately 19 months after the launch of Rome. In that time we have seen the launch of both Amazon Graviton2 and Ampere Altra, built on Arm’s Neoverse N1 family of cores.

Milan Top-of-Stack Competition
AnandTech EPYC
7003
Amazon
Graviton2
Ampere
Altra
Intel
Xeon
Platform Milan Graviton2 QuickSilver Cascade
Processor 7763 Graviton2 Q80-33 6258R
uArch Zen 3 N1 N1 Cascade
Cores 64 64 80 28
TDP 280 W ? 250 W 205 W
Base Freq 2450 2500 3300 2700
Turbo Freq 3500 2500 3300 4000
L3 Cache 256 MB 32 MB 32 MB 37.5 MB
PCIe 4.0 x128 ? 4.0 x128 3.0 x48
DDR4 8 x 3200 8 x 3200 8 x 3200 6 x 2933
DRAM Cap 4 TB ? 4 TB 1 TB
Price $7890 N/A $4050 $3950

From Intel, the company has divided its efforts between big socket and little socket configurations. For big sockets (4+) there is Cooper Lake, a Skylake derivative for select customers only. For smaller socket configurations (1-2), Intel is set to launch its 10nm Ice Lake portfolio at some point this year, but as yet it still remains silent on exact dates. To that end, all we have to compare Milan to is Intel’s Cascade Lake Xeon Scalable platform, which was the same platform we compared Rome to.

Interesting times for sure.

This Review

For this review, AMD gave us remote access to several identical servers with different processor configurations. We focused our efforts on the top-of-the-stack EPYC 7763, a 280 W 64-core processor, the EPYC 7713, a 225 W 64-core processor, and the EPYC 7F53, a 280 W 32-core processor designed as the halo Milan processor for per-core performance.

On the next page we will go through AMD’s Milan processor stack, and its comparison to Rome as well as the comparison to current Intel offerings. We then go through our test systems, discussions about our SoC structure testing (cache, core-to-core, bandwidth), processor power, and then into our full benchmarks.

  1. This Page, The Overview
  2. Milan Processor Offerings
  3. Test Bed Setups, Compiler Options
  4. Topology, Memory Subsystem and Latency
  5. Processor Power: Core vs IO
  6. SPEC: Multi-Thread Performance
  7. SPEC: Single-Thread Performance
  8. SPEC: Per Core Performance Win for 75F3
  9. SPECjbb MultiJVM: Java Performance
  10. Compilation and Compute Benchmarks
  11. Conclusions and End Remarks

These pages can be accessed by clicking the links, or by using the drop down menu below.

CPU List and SoC Updates
POST A COMMENT

120 Comments

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  • gustavowoltmann - Saturday, March 27, 2021 - link

    https://www.anandtech.com/ Reply
  • Calin - Tuesday, March 16, 2021 - link

    That's "team Anandtech" but from the times when the site was done by a single person.
    I used to read Tom's Hardware, then it and Anandtech (sometime before 2000 I think, the site was started in 1997), then Anandtech only.
    Lots of quality hardware information, even though at first the site sometime covered antiviruses and some other software.
    Considering the entire history, reviewers other than Anand are a recent phenomenon :)
    Reply
  • MenhirMike - Monday, March 15, 2021 - link

    I wonder if AMD is going to add 120 W CPUs again - EPYC Rome had 4 CPUs with only 4 memory channels of bandwidth, but with a lower TDP, including the EPYC 7282. Reply
  • zanon - Monday, March 15, 2021 - link

    They do have an EPYC Embedded (3000 series) line that's still Zen 1. Maybe they'll move that to Zen 3 and that's where the low TDP stuff will go? Reply
  • Foeketijn - Monday, March 15, 2021 - link

    Yes, it's a shame those type of parts didn't really get attention yet. It's really great you can get 128 Cores and 256 threads in a 2U server, But if you just need 20 VM's running on a super stable platform, 16 threads and 50 Watts are more than enough. Reply
  • Spunjji - Friday, March 19, 2021 - link

    I believe they're leaving that segment to Rome Reply
  • powerarmour - Monday, March 15, 2021 - link

    ARM is going to be the tech to watch in this space IMHO, especially with NVIDIA's upcoming weight behind it. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Monday, March 15, 2021 - link

    2014 called and wants its prediction back. Reply
  • powerarmour - Monday, March 15, 2021 - link

    Ampere Altra responded to the call, but is currently engaged. Reply
  • MenhirMike - Monday, March 15, 2021 - link

    It's not as egregious as "Linux on the Desktop": ARM on the server is actually gaining foothold, especially for Cloud-hosted companies.

    Though x86-64 will be around for a LONG time - ARM might (and likely will) get a nice Marketshare, but it will not seriously threaten x86-64 for decades, if ever.

    One thing that ARM is sorely lacking are some workstations to test stuff on. The Ampere eMag was based on ancient hardware, Raspberry Pi isn't specced nearly the same, and I'm not putting an Ampere Altra on my desk.
    Reply

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