Tuesday November 27, 2018

AMD's 7nm Products Provoke Interesting Industry Responses

In their coverage of AMD's 7nm EPYC and Vega launches, EE Times dug up some interesting responses from the scientific community and other parts of the computing industry. While there was the usual anticipation of performance gains that come with any launch, some scientists replying to the story on Twitter went beyond that. One English researcher lamented the $15,000 cost of Nvidia Tesla V100s, calling the pricing "not sustainable" while pointing out "Intel and Nvidia gross margins in excess of 63%." Another user pointed to the ballooning die sizes, and costs, of GPUs over time, as you can see in the image below. Other programmers criticized the poor quality of AMD's GPU Comptue software stack, while lamenting the proprietary nature of most of Nvidia's driver code.

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On the hardware side, AMD’s Epyc and Vega are among the first reality checks on the 7-nm node. TSMC said in March 2017 that its process would offer up to 35% speed gains or 60% lower power compared to its 16FF+ node. However, AMD is only claiming that its chips will sport 25% speed gains or 50% less power compared to its 14-nm products. "TSMC may have been measuring a basic device like a ring oscillator - our claims are for a real product," said Mark Papermaster in an interview the day that the 7-nm chips were revealed. "Moore's Law is slowing down, semiconductor nodes are more expensive, and we're not getting the frequency lift we used to get," he said in a talk during the launch, calling the 7-nm migration "a rough lift that added masks, more resistance, and parasitics."

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