AMD Makes A Compelling Case For Budget-Friendly Ryzen Dedicated Servers

Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 18 March 2022. Page 1 of 17. 40 Comments

While AMD EPYC processors offer phenomenal performance at the high-end for servers with up to 64 cores / 128 threads per socket, eight memory channels, and other features, not all server deployments call for such capabilities. In the lower-end dedicated web server rental space, budget web hosting, and similar personal / small office server space, AMD Ryzen processors can prove more than capable. Already some dedicated server providers are offering AMD Ryzen powered servers and more are expected to come soon -- especially with even more server-minded wares for Ryzen expected next generation. In looking at this space, we have been testing a number of AMD Ryzen processors recently compared to Intel Xeon E class competition for looking at the performance and value in the low-end dedicated server space.

AMD Ryzen with its range of SKUs currently up to 16 cores / 32 threads is more than enough for light web servers, mini/infrequent build/compilation boxes, gaming servers, and other light tasks not requiring as large of a scale and investment as AMD EPYC. AMD Ryzen has proven incredibly popular with open-source developers (and software developers at large) due to the high core count desktop processors, speed, and value. We've previously reported on developers increasingly switching over to Ryzen hardware for powering build boxes for distributions and other open-source projects and individual developer workstations. This just isn't a Linux thing but Ryzen build boxes have proven popular with the BSDs too. Content creation with small studios have has similarly seen much success with Ryzen when needing strong performance but not quite to the levels (or costs) of EPYC.

AMD is seeming to position Ryzen dedicated servers for fulfilling basic web hosting needs of individuals and small businesses, cost-minded content creators that may wish to offload CPU-based rendering work, dedicated gaming servers, and certainly for build farms whether it be CI/CD purposes or developers/teams leveraging remote Ryzen servers for faster build times than local laptops, video transcoding boxes, and other areas where the very high core counts of EPYC are not needed nor the additional memory channels and features offered by their flagship server processors. In our benchmarks today we are looking at Ryzen vs. Xeon E performance in these areas and more.

Besides being very capable CPUs, the other part of the equation with more cost-focused dedicated server providers offering Ryzen options are the growing selection of Ryzen motherboards with server-minded functionality: principally, verified ECC memory support with Ryzen processors and Ryzen motherboards with a BMC. ASRock Rack has been the leader when it comes to server-focused Ryzen (Socket AM4) motherboards ranging from 1U barebones platforms to mini-ITX boards with IPMI to an assortment of other interesting wares. I am told with next-generation AMD Ryzen we are likely to see even more server-minded options available.

While there is always the "cloud" for those looking at low core count, variable needs, they aren't always cost effective. Plus with the speculative execution vulnerabilities these days and other concerns, there is the peace of mind for some having their own bare metal server with no shared computing resources among customers. Zen 3 Ryzen CPUs like EPYC do support memory encryption, optional UEFI SecureBoot, CET, and other functionality.

The AMD Ryzen 5000 series for server use are primarily intended to compete with Intel's Xeon E-2200 "Coffee Lake" and E-2300 "Rocket Lake" series as the latest Xeon E processors. At least until Intel introduces a Xeon E series based on Alder Lake, AMD Ryzen 5000 series can easily break-through in this budget segment. Eight cores is still the tops for the E-2300 series. The current flagship Xeon E-2388G processor is eight cores / sixteen threads with a 3.2GHz base frequency and 5.1GHz turbo frequency and 95 Watt TDP. Meanwhile the Ryzen 9 5950X has 16 cores / 32 threads for a 105 Watt part with a 3.4GHz base and 4.9GHz turbo. When it comes to CPU prices, the Xeon E-2388G has a list customer price of $578 USD but as of writing isn't in-stock at any of the major Internet retailers. The Ryzen 9 5950X meanwhile is currently priced around $590 USD with retail availability or even the 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X down to around $448 USD.

While the same processors as their desktop counterparts, AMD is also introducing separate OPNs for select Ryzen processors intended for low-end servers. I am told these different OPNs are just an attempt at tracking the popularity of Ryzen for servers and availability. These AMD Ryzen server OPNs will be available through distributors and partners. I am also told that current AMD Ryzen (AM4) CPUs are expected to continue shipping the Ryzen server OPNs well after the next-gen Ryzen (Socket AM5) introduction.

The "A" postfix is for denoting the Ryzen Server OPNs.

OVH, HostKey, InterServer, Hetzner, and others already offer a range of AMD Ryzen powered servers for low-cost, bare metal dedicated servers. Entering this space as well is Oslo, Norway based hosting provider ServeTheWorld. ServeTheWorld has been around for over two decades and with their Oslo data-center pride themselves on the Norwegian privacy laws. ServeTheWorld was kind enough to allow Phoronix gratis access to a range of AMD Ryzen server options they are launching for seeing how they compare in performance and value to their Xeon E offerings.

In this article are benchmarks of various Intel Xeon E and AMD Ryzen offerings at ServeTheWorld for looking at the performance/value of these lower-end processors for dedicated servers in a variety of possible workloads.

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