AMD made a number of concrete announcements at Computex, building on what we heard from the company last week and the week before at its Financial Analyst Day. AMD has confirmed that its Epyc server family, which we’ve covered several times in the last few weeks, will launch on June 20th. AMD doesn’t expect a quick server ramp — CEO Lisa Su has told investors that the company will bring up production over the next few quarters — and has set a goal of retaking 10 percent of the data center business. To put that in perspective, Intel’s data center business was worth $ 17.2 billion in 2016. Even a 5 percent revenue share, half of AMD’s current target, would be worth about $ 215 million per quarter to AMD, and those are high-margin dollars that improve the company’s overall financials.
Threadripper, with up to 16-cores, 32 threads, quad-channel memory, and AMD’s new X399 platform, will also debut later this summer, though the company hasn’t given a launch date beyond “later this summer.” All of AMD’s Threadripper CPUs (and we don’t know anything yet about the total product stack) will feature 64 lanes of PCIe 3.0 connectivity, unlike on Intel platforms, where you have to pay at least $ 1,000 for a chip that has 44 PCIe lanes. Threadripper pricing has not yet been announced, but AMD is generally expected to hit Intel hard on it once again. Intel’s upcoming Skylake-X chips will sell more cores per dollar than any previous Intel HEDT line-up, but it seems pretty safe to bet AMD will take a chainsaw to Intel’s overall price stack.
Meanwhile, we also got more information on how Vega will debut, and when various segments will see product. First up is the Vega Frontier Edition, which will launch on June 27 and fulfill, barely, AMD’s pledge to have Vega in market during the first half of 2017. The Radeon Instinct M25 won’t launch on June 20 alongside Epyc, but AMD is expected to release some additional details on the card and possibly give some pricing and positioning information.
As for consumer Vega, AMD has stated it will launch the card at SIGGRAPH, an industry event from July 30 – August 2nd. This fulfills Lisa Su’s earlier remarks about launching consumer Vega within a couple of months (from mid-May). But SIGGRAPH is a professional event, not the sort of place where one normally launches a consumer graphics card. It’s possible that AMD plans to do a joint announcement at the show, with a combined professional and consumer launch, but we’re still wondering about what kind of availability and pricing AMD will be able to offer to the general market.
Best-case, the company has engaged in some sleight-of-hand to bring a more potent GPU to the consumer space than many are expecting. I don’t think the worst-case scenario, in which Vega is simply non-competitive, is very likely — but it does seem possible that limited HBM2 availability could create a situation in which Vega, ultimately, is reserved for a relatively small number of cards. Our sister site Computer Shopper points out that AMD didn’t promise Vega availability at SIGGRAPH either, which could mean that the actual launch is farther into August.
I normally enjoy speculating on how various products will perform and what launch availability will look like, but in this case, I feel like there’s just too little information available. Many of the complaints leveled at Vega are similar to remarks made about Ryzen before it launched, and Ryzen has proven to be stronger than expected, not weaker. Then again, Ryzen didn’t rely on a brand-new memory technology that really ought to have been in-market by now given HBM’s ramp-up during 2015.