AMD Epyc processors continue to gain momentum

Sales of AMD’s Epyc server processors grew more than 50% over the second quarter of this year, thanks in part to the second-generation “Rome” platform in August.

Q3 was a bang-up quarter for the rebounding company, with third-quarter revenue of $1.8 billion, a 9.1% year-over-year increase, and net income of 18 cents per share, in line with analyst projections. This was AMD’s best quarter for revenue since 2005, when AMD was super hot and Intel was spinning its wheels.

More importantly, CEO Lisa Su, in reporting the company’s third quarter earnings, said AMD is on track to reach double-digit server CPU share by the middle of next year. Just a few years ago, Mercury Research, which tracks semiconductor market share, estimated Opteron market share at below one percent.

To put that in perspective: Epyc market share in Q2 2019 was 3.4%, which is double the Q2 2018 number, according to Dean McCarron, president of Mercury Research. And Su said the company saw 50% unit growth above Q2. However, McCarron notes that AMD’s 50% unit growth doesn’t necessarily mean a 50% market share growth because Intel had a very strong Q3 as well.

The update from Naples to Rome was significant. Naples had a maximum of 32 cores, while Rome has 64 cores. AMD also made a process change, going from 14nm for Naples and 7nm for Rome. So it was able to effectively double the transistor count in the same space.

As a result, AMD was able to retain socket compatibility. A Naples-based system can be upgraded to Rome processors, and Napes and Rome systems will also be able to upgrade to the next generation processor, using the Zen 3 architecture.

“Customers are familiar with our platforms and in some cases doing drop-ins with [existing] platforms,” Su said on the company’s earnings call with financial analysts. “They’re familiar with our architecture, so I think from a market share standpoint, we feel good about the transition from Naples to Rome.”

Dell, HPE, and Lenovo have more than doubled their AMD-powered server offerings, and AMD is really racking up cloud wins. Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, OVH Cloud, Twitter and Tencent have all announced plans to deploy Epyc processors in their data centers.

AMD also saw considerable traction for its Ryzen desktop processors, especially on the high end, where benchmarks have shown Ryzen beats Intel on the high-end for a much lower price. That mirrors what tests found for Epyc, which outperformed Intel Xeons at a fraction of the price.

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