October 14, 2019

AMD - Server CPUs Note

By Van Tran
Shipments of AMD’s EPYC Rome server CPUs could accelerate in 1H20 with design wins expected from major hyperscale customers.

Shipments of Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s new EPYC Rome server CPUs began in September, and sources said 3Q19 adoption was slow because a lot of customers were evaluating rather than buying. “Server customers take longer to test and evaluate, and they start with small volume orders running for a few applications,” one said.

Sources confirmed Taiwan’s motherboard ODMs received Rome CPU orders from small-volume customers in 3Q19, with shipments expected in 4Q19. “A lot of orders are in for a few hundred to a few thousand Rome motherboards, but I haven’t seen or don’t know about huge data center orders yet,” one said. Another said Twitter Inc. is working on a project with one of Taiwan’s top server ODMs, with shipments expected to begin by early 2020.

Sources expect AMD’s server CPU market share to almost double by the end of 2019 to around 6%-7%, compared with 3%-4% at the end of 2018. However, two sources said Intel Corp. is offering deeper discounts to prevent key customers from switching to AMD’s Rome in 4Q19. For 2020, one source said AMD share would reach “at least 10%, but past 15% is difficult.” Another said, “2020 [could be] under 15%. It depends on how much Intel discounts.”

For large-volume hyperscale orders, sources said Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Microsoft Corp. may be the most promising potential customers for AMD, along with a few large China-based data center customers. Sources said Google and Microsoft are testing AMD’s single-socket CPU platform for their data centers for potential adoption in 1H20. (Intel’s server CPUs require ODMs to design in two sockets, while AMD customers can deploy single-socket architecture to cut costs.)

Meanwhile, sources said volume shipments of Intel’s 10 nm Ice Lake CPUs, originally scheduled to ship at the end of 2Q20, have been delayed to 3Q20. One said the delay could allow AMD to gain share with its Rome CPUs and next-generation Milan CPUs in 2020.