AMD Processors: Meta Converts Intel Server Platform to AMD Epyc


Meta (formerly Facebook) is using AMD processors in its data centers for the first time in the company’s history. The two companies jointly designed the North Dome processor module for the Yosemite V2 open compute server platform. This is a big step for AMD: until now, Meta has only used Intel processors and so far was the last among the ten largest cloud data center operators in the world without AMD hardware.

The Yosemite V2 platform originally appeared in 2017. A tall 4U slot contained 16 Intel Skylake generation Xeon D processors with 16 cores per CPU, four-channel RAM, and thermal design power (TDP ) up to 105 watts. The new North Dome version retains the same dimensions as a microserver, but significantly increases performance: AMD brings Epyc processors with 36 Zen 3 cores, which are optimized for operation with a power consumption of up to 95 watts. Instead of PCI Express 3.0, there is PCIe 4.0 (28 lanes), instead of quad, there is hexachannel RAM.

Yosemite V2 high bay 4U with 16 nodes.

(Photo: OCP)

AMD points out that all 36 cores are built with off-the-shelf components, so Meta does not receive suitable CPU chips or I / O arrays, although two memory channels and much of the PCIe 4.0 lanes are inactive. Compared to Xeon-D systems, there is only one memory module per DDR4 channel, as the larger processors mean there is no more space for additional RDIMM slots. Two M.2 ports accept PCIe SSDs, additional data storage media and additional chips such as network adapters can be installed on a Yosesmite V2 server via additional cards.

The sharing of AMD’s 36 CPU cores was not explained during the OCP summit. Typically, Epyc 7003 processors use up to eight chips with eight processor cores each, resulting in gradations of 64, 48, and 32 processor cores. In the case of North Dome, six chipsets with six active processor cores each would be possible.

(Image: AMD / Meta / OCP)

AMD and Meta have made firmware optimizations, including finer-grained power management so that CPUs can run as efficiently as possible with reduced load in cloud data centers. The companies also designed the underlying motherboard together. Full specifications will be disclosed in the future as part of the Open Compute Project (OCP). OCP platforms with Epyc processors were previously only available from Microsoft (PDF) and Taiwanese mother Tyan Mitac.

Meanwhile, the larger Yosemite V3 server platform remains exclusive to Intel. It contains Cooper Lake CPUs, the Bfloat16 extensions that Meta uses to train artificial intelligences. AMD’s Epyc-7003 models speed up INT8 instructions for this purpose.


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