For those are hoping for “MOAR COARS”, it looks like AMD will be delivering later this year. First alluded to in a Linux patch last week, AMD’s upcoming Zen Opteron CPUs are set to have up to 32 psychical cores. A leaked slide from CERN reveals that patch was right on target. Combined with the introduction of Symmetrical Multi-threading, this will allow Zen to handle at least 64 threads at once, an unprecedented amount for AMD and quadruple current chips.
In addition to the large core, Zen is expected to bring PCIe 3.0 and DDR4 to AMD’s server offerings. The memory subsystem also gets a major boost with up to 8 channels, double from the current 4 on Socket G34. Compared to Intel’s Haswell-EP, Zen will offer 14 more cores and 28 more threads and double the memory channels. While Broadwell-EP may change things up later this year, AMD may still hold a lead in terms of core and thread count.
Combined with the expected 40% IPC boost, Zen may finally bring AMD back into relevance in the lucrative server and data centre market. AMD has had no real update to their server lineup since 2011, leading to their market share dropping to near zero. With such a major update, AMD will once again be competing in the server market with Opterons that can go toe to toe with Intel. While 32 cores is unlikely for the consumer lineup, a 16 core chip seems pretty likely.
Intel IDF 2015 is the gift that just keeps on giving. We’re still going through all the information Intel released during the event and now we have a prediction on the future of SSDs. As many of you know, Intel is quite active in the SSD market, with their enterprise and consumer drives. Intel also has a stake in IMFT, a joint venture with Micron to produce NAND. Given this, Intel is projecting that SSDs will be over 30TB by 2018 and surpass 100TB in 2019. Compared to Toshiba’s expectations, these are pretty conservative.
In order to drive demand for such huge drives, Intel is expecting datacentres and the enterprise segment to adopt more and more flash storage. Right now, SSDs are generally only used to cache “hot” data, with the majority of storage still being hard drives. As workloads change, Intel is expecting SSDs to be used more and more as speed and latency become more important and replace hard drives for data storage. Another aspect is that as NVMe gains traction, the reduced overhead and better speeds/latency will further exaggerate the differences between SSDs and HDDs.
With the arrival of 3D Xpoint and faster 3D NAND technologies, it looks like Intel is planning on moving SSDs to both replace some of what DRAM does while also replacing hard drives. With SSDs taking the consumer and enterprise segments by storm, hard disk drive manufacturers should probably hurry with their HAMR developments. Even if SSDs are wildly successful, I don’t see hard drives disappearing just yet as long as they can compete on price. You can find Intel’s full presentation here.