Epyc Rome vs Scalable

aholmes5

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Dec 19, 2015
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Need advice: It's time to upgrade my Xeon E3-1230 v1 home server. Current: ESXi, ZFS storage pools, video streaming server, a few VMs. Would like something that I can eventually offload archival video transcoding from my Xeon W workstation. A family member wants to do some basic machine learning stuff at home instead of on AWS - a mix of scikit-learn and tensorflow. Components needed to purchase are: ATX motherboard, ram and processor+HSF. Planning to make the jump to Proxmox with the new build.

Thinking of getting a ~$500 6-8 core Epyc or Xeon Scalable Silver now with hope of upgrading to something more powerful in a year or two as our needs grow. Looking for advice on whether to go AMD or Intel. It seems like the new AVX512 instructions show some performance advantages in video transcoding. Seems like the used scalable market will be larger as companies upgrade to newer platforms down the road. This has me leaning towards an Intel Silver 4108 and 64gb ddr4.

Would Epyc be a better option for long term upgradeability? Will I get more bang for the buck now? Would like to spend less than $1500 now and hopefully add additional ram and upgrade the processor down the road.
 

scline

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Apr 7, 2016
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If it's going to be at home and not in a datacenter then a consumer AMD processor or even threadripper may be worlds cheaper then the datacenter ones.

I don't know much about AVX512 or its use case, but the best bang for buck by miles is generally going to be an AMD based system if purchasing new. If you are planning to use several graphics cards (machine learning/transcoding) then Epyc would be the way to go due to more PCIe lanes.
 

blinkenlights

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May 24, 2019
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@aholmes5 it really depends on personal preference and budget. I have run similar workloads (even down to the Xeon-W workstation) and ended up with an Intel Gold 5218 with 192GB (6x32GB) LRDIMM driving four NVMe drives, 14-drive spinning rust array, and quad-10GigE from Chelsio. The 1080Ti in the Xeon-W workstation is sufficient for transcoding tasks. In my experience, the "frequency optimized" parts from Intel (fewer cores, higher base/boost frequencies) have served me better than massive numbers of cores on a single die but I understand the appeal. Of course, AMD has the new EPYC 7F series but I think they far exceed your $500 CPU budget.

Regardless of which processor you choose, make sure you are buying the right number modules to fully utilize the memory bandwidth: Optimize memory performance of Intel Xeon Scalable systems - Thomas-Krenn-Wiki

And I am not suggesting you would run into this, but check out the videos I posted in another thread regarding AMD and fully utilizing those 128 PCIe lanes: https://forums.servethehome.com/ind...d-epyc-under-i-o-load-pcie-utilization.28847/

I'd like to believe EPYC is everything as advertised, but reports like that make me wonder.
 
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scline

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I haven't owned an AMD processor since the 32 bit K6. Its hard for me to follow their product lines but my understanding is the 3950x is a desktop processor and doesn't support ECC ram?
It is a desktop line processor but does support ECC (if paired with the correct motherboard). It does not support RDIMM ECC like Xeon/EPYC lines though, only UDIMM (simular to Xeon E3 lines). It also maxes out of 4 ram slots (dual channel) for a total of 128GB supported.

Since UDIMM ECC is generally more expensive then the RDIMM component, it may be worthwhile going with the datacenter version depending on your requirements.
 

Keyco

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Nov 13, 2015
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I think intel w-2150B or w-2170B will be better if you can get these OEM cpu by cheap price (street price on taobao is just around USD 239 for w-2150B and USD 436 for w-2170B). Because they support RDIMM, so you can save money on RAM.
 
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blinkenlights

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I think intel w-2150B or w-2170B will be better if you can get these OEM cpu by cheap price (street price on taobao is just around USD 239 for w-2150B and USD 436 for w-2170B). Because they support RDIMM, so you can save money on RAM.
Yes, the Apple OEM parts are a fantastic option but mind the price to go from step to step. I bought a W-2150B (10 cores) for $300 and change, but the W-2170B (14 cores, same amount of cache/core) was close to $700. I think I saw the W-2191B (18 cores) for something like $1,300. I guess if you really need the extra cores it would be worth it.. but the value winner for me was the 10-core model. Working perfectly in a WS C422 PRO/SE with 4x32GB Crucial 2666 LRDIMMs.
 

aholmes5

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Yes, the Apple OEM parts are a fantastic option but mind the price to go from step to step. I bought a W-2150B (10 cores) for $300 and change, but the W-2170B (14 cores, same amount of cache/core) was close to $700. I think I saw the W-2191B (18 cores) for something like $1,300. I guess if you really need the extra cores it would be worth it.. but the value winner for me was the 10-core model. Working perfectly in a WS C422 PRO/SE with 4x32GB Crucial 2666 LRDIMMs.
I hadn't really considered using a W as my headless server but it seems competitive cost wise if I can get an apple part off of ebay. I do think the single core performance might come in handy for a lot of my workflow. I doubt as many of these will appear on the second hand market as the scalable processors when I want to upgrade. Tough decisions to make. Honestly I would be ok with an 8 core E-2200 if it wasn't for the complete lack of pci-e lanes. I need at least 1 pcie x16, and 3 x8s for gpu, 10gb network, HBA and NVME adapter.
 

hmw

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Apr 29, 2019
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I was in the same position as you - in the end, I went ahead with the 16 core 7302P EPYC because I was able to get it for $670, and the motherboard for $380. Right now it is running my Windows Server NAS VM, my Ubuntu VM for Jupyter & Python ML - and my Win10 gaming VM with the GPU passed through. 64GB of DDR4-3200 RDIMM should be ~ $370. You can add 4x 16GB DIMMs now and live with 1/2 the bandwidth and add another 4 DIMMs later . I'm blown away by the power efficiency of this platform. And the fact that it's all PCIe 4.0, so it's future proofed. There's loads of things you can pick up off eBay for cheap like 10GbE NICs or 12GBit SATA/SAS HBAs

AVX512 is a narrow use case (for now) and for those applications that do use it - it's awesome. Keep in mind there's no free lunch so CPU cores clock down or throttle significantly when using AVX512

The other thing is that if the Milan chips do come out - maybe with AVX512 support, it should be relatively straightforward to slot them into an SP3 socket motherboard (although it is the last socket to support newer processors. After Milan, AMD will change the socket)