AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

By John Russell

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus here is presenting a full portfolio of partners and systems. AMD is also claiming a 3X price-performance advantage over top end Intel Skylake as it tries to hammer home a compelling message for switching.

“Getting infrastructure and systems ready has been the big focus,” said Scott Aylor, AMD corporate VP and GM of enterprise solutions business. “HPC was always going to be one of the key focused verticals. From EPYC’s ability to connect many GPUs and IO capacity. We have a pretty compelling floating point story especially for memory-bound workloads. You’ll see a lot of that at the show [with] demonstrations around HPC applications.”

He also noted, “Because Skylake was not really in the market when EPYC launched, we had to do all of our comparison with Broadwell. The good news is we now have Skylake in hand as we’ve procured the entire stack and we are holding up extremely well.”

At EPYC’s launch, AMD trotted out an extensive series of price-performance benchmarks (see HPCwire article, AMD Charges Back into the Datacenter and HPC Workflows with EPYC Processor). Today, there were fewer details on performance versus the Skylake line. AMD reported a 3X performance per dollar advantage for EPYC 7601 vs Intel Platinum 8180M1 as measured by SPECfp[i]. Target workloads for AMD solutions include machine learning, weather modeling, computational fluid dynamics, simulation and crash analysis in aviation and automotive manufacturing, oil and gas exploration, according to the company.

Also announced was ROCm 1.7., the latest version of the development platform. It now includes multi-GPU support for the latest Radeon GPU hardware as well as support for TensorFlow and Caffe in the MIOpen libraries. Taken together, the new CPU, GPU, and platform tools are evidence of AMD commitment to a vision of heterogeneous computing platforms, said Aylor, pointing to the diversity of platforms and partners.

AMD reports the following companies are now offering AMD EPYC products or AMD EPYC-based systems:

  • OEM/ODM – Asus, Gigabyte, HPE, Supermicro, Tyan
  • Distributors – ASI Computer Technologies, Tech Data
  • Systems Integrators – AMAX, Boston, Boxx, Clustervision, E4, EchoStreams, Equus / ServersDirect, ICC, Koi, Megware, NEC, Penguin, Silicon Mechanics

This is already a sizeable group given the newness of AMD’s reentry to data center world. It was interesting that Dell EMC was not on the list. It delivered a forceful statement of support when EPYC was launched. Aylor suggested it’s just a matter of timing with Dell before it discloses its plans. (The statements of support in today’s release are provided towards the end of the article.)

He was less specific about AMD’s high-end HPC and supercomputer plans. This is, after all, SC, and AMD once wielded substantial influence at the top. Titan, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was built using AMD Opteron processors and remains the fastest U.S. machine on the Top500. AMD is one of six vendors to win PathForward awards.

Aylor said, “We fully expect to participate in a material way both from a CPU and GPU perspective, especially if you think about some of the techniques and technologies we have on the current roadmap as well as those that may be coming in the timeframe that the exascale deployments are coming out. We’ve talked about our involvement in things like Gen-Z. Our involvement in PCI-X where we are looking to open standards for both accelerators and ROCm interconnect. We definitely expect to be a significant player in that over time.”

The Inventec P47 system, launched in August, is a high-end server. It combines a single EPYC 7000 series CPU with four Radeon Instinct MI25 GPUs, each delivering up to 12.3 TFLOPS of single precision performance in a highly scalable platform. For large to hyperscale deployments, AMAX has developed the [SMART]Rack P47, an all-inclusive high- performance rackscale appliance featuring 20x P47 platforms to provide up to a Petaflops of single precision compute performance and more than 10 terabytes of DDR4 memory per rack.

Inventec and its primary distributor AMAX are targeting Project 47 system availability for Q4 of this year (see HPCwire article, AMD Stuffs a Petaflops of Machine Intelligence into 20-Node Rack).

When the EPYC platform was first announced AMD said it planned a one- and two-socket strategy. To date, two-socket servers have dominated the market.

“It’s interesting when we look at the platforms we are putting into the channel and those that are coming out now with systems integrators and system builders. It’s split almost down the middle actually. We tend to see the single socket really resonating on let’s call it the more GPU-centric computing where the CPU tends to be more supervisory as opposed to a foundational computing role,” said Aylor. The one socket has also drawn attention in big data applications where its ability to connect to a massive number of drives is a distinguishing attribute, he said.

Statements of Support for AMD Ecosystem in the Release

ASUS – “As one of the first companies to introduce AMD EPYC-based servers, ASUS understands the need for platforms that can scale to meet the performance and power requirements of data-intensive HPC and virtualization applications,” said Robert Chin, head of ASUS Server business unit. “Server performance and efficiency is critical to any datacenter, however it is especially important when managing the most demanding tasks inherent in deep learning applications. Our EPYC-based ASUS RS720A-E9 and RS700A-E9 servers on the market today meet this challenge for a dramatically improved experience.”

BOXX – “For two decades, BOXX has developed innovative workstations, rendering systems, and servers for engineering, architecture, VFX, motion media, and other industries,” said Shoaib Mohammad, BOXX vice president of marketing and business development. “Now we’re applying that same expertise to advanced, multi-GPU compute solutions for deep learning. With AMD EPYC server processors, we can significantly boost performance, power and memory to drive advancements in data mining, natural language processing, image recognition, and security.”

 EchoStreams – “EchoStreams supports solution providers and integrators of all sizes by delivering the latest server and storage technologies via OEM/ODM platforms purposely designed for different usage models in different markets that require data-intensive management,” said Gene Lee, president, EchoStreams. “With the addition of the high-performance EPYC processors from AMD to our storage portfolio, today we can offer customers an even more powerful solution capable of taking on the complex challenges in the continuously evolving areas of artificial intelligence and deep learning.”

 GIGABYTE Technology – “GIGABYTE Technology is a key go-to-market partner for delivering EPYC processor- based server platforms, offering customers a mature ecosystem, industry-transforming hardware design and serious compute, memory, I/O and power for complex HPC computations,” said Daniel Hou, vice president, research & development, GIGABYTE Technology. “Supercomputing requires significant compute density at the server level to drive a diverse range of applications, and with our R-series and G-series EPYC processor-based rackmount servers available today, GIGABYTE is ready for the next frontier.”

 HPE – “HPE is a foundational partner to AMD on its journey with EPYC,” said Justin Hotard, vice president and general manager, Volume Global Business Unit, HPE. “As the world leader in supercomputers and high performance computing, we are committed to delivering solutions to customers with highly complicated workloads, and AMD delivers the power, density and scalability to help break barriers.”

Penguin Computing – “Penguin Computing is a longstanding leader in open, Linux-based HPC solutions, and we have delivered hundreds of HPC clusters to customers in a variety of vertical markets spanning life sciences, government, manufacturing, financial services and more,” said Philip Pokorny, CTO, Penguin Computing. “The high-performance EPYC processors from AMD, powering our new Altus line of 1U and 2U server platforms, provide the scalability, memory and high core count that are key to driving advanced HPC and machine learning workloads, and enable us to tackle new challenges in supercomputing.”

 Supermicro – “Our high-density compute solutions optimized for the new EPYC processors offer more cores, more memory channels, and more PCI-E expansion lanes than any previous AMD platforms. These enhanced features enable maximum performance-per-watt, scalability and reliability, all of which are vital in solving today’s biggest challenges in science, engineering, simulation, modeling and data analytics,” said Don Clegg, VP of marketing at Supermicro.

TYAN – “The AMD EPYC processor inside our TYAN servers enables us to double down on performance, delivering the power of a dual-socket platform in a single-socket form factor to maximize value and support an array of high-performance applications,” said Danny Hsu, vice president of MiTAC Computing Technology Corporation’s TYAN Business Unit. “Designing products that can handle complex and often difficult workloads in HPC environments requires scalability, efficiency and an exceptionally high-performance infrastructure, which are all qualities we see in the EPYC portfolio, and why we are partnering with AMD to address the major computing challenges of today and tomorrow.”

[i] Based on SPECfp®_rate2006 scores published on www.spec.org as of October 25, 2017. 2 x EPYC 7601 CPU ($4,200 per processor at AMD 1ku pricing) in Sugon A620-G30, Ubuntu 17.04, x86 Open64 v4.5.2.1 Compiler Suite, 512 GB PC4-2666V-R memory running at 2400 1 x 1TB SATA 7200RPM has a peak score of 1850 (base score 1670); versus 2P Xeon Platinum 8180M ($13,011 per processor per ark.intel.com)-based Cisco UCS C240 M5 system with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP2, ICC 17.0.3.191, 384GB PC4-2666V-R memory, 1x240GB SATA SSD score of 1830 (base score 1800). SPEC and SPECfp are registered trademarks of the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation.

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