Cloudflare Gen X Servers Now Run On AMD EPYC Processors, As Co. Drops Intel Hardware Citing Energy Efficiency, Security, And Other Advantages

Intel Inc. recently lost Cloudflare, one of the largest networks on the Internet, to AMD. Cloudflare has confirmed that it has migrated a significant portion of its Gen X Servers to AMD EPYC Processors. The company has also indicated the numerous reasons why it went with AMD’s server-grade CPUs, instead of going with a newer generation of Intel CPUs for its service-critical and performance-intensive services.

Cloudflare, the American web-infrastructure and website-security company, providing content-delivery-network services, DDoS mitigation, Internet security, and distributed domain-name-server services, now has an increasing number of its Gen X Servers run on AMD EPYC CPUs, instead of its long-term partner, Intel’s processors. In fact, the 10th Generation of Cloudflare servers does not use any Intel components. Needless to add, while this is another strong indicator of AMD’s growing prominence in the CPU market, Intel Inc. should remain vigilant and step up its game.

Cloudflare Updates “Gen 9” Servers Based on Intel Xeon To New “Gen X” Servers Based On AMD EPYC:

Cloudflare confirmed that it is building its next-generation stack on AMD EPYC CPUs. The company serves on average 11 million data or information requests per second. It is interesting to note that a single AMD EPYC Processor will replace two Intel Xeon CPU configuration. In other words, Cloudflare will be moving from a dual-socket Xeon setup to a single socket AMD EPYC 7642.

The AMD EPYC CPU will retain the high number of core levels. The AMD AMD EPYC 7642 packs 48 Cores and 96 Threads. It will be accompanied by 256GB of DDR4-2933 memory on the octa-channel and high-speed NVME memory. Cloudflare’s official blog explains the multiple reasons why it opted for AMD EPYC for its 10th Generation Servers.

“We chose the AMD EPYC 7642 processor in a single-socket configuration for Gen X. This CPU has 48 cores (96 threads), a base frequency of 2.4 GHz and 256 MB L3 cache. Its TDP (225W) may seem high, but it is lower than the combined TDP in our Gen 9 servers, and we prefer the performance of this CPU over lower performance variants. Although AMD offers higher core options with 64 cores, the performance improvements were not convincing enough for our software suite and its use.”

The company indicated that the decision to choose AMD EPYC instead of its longtime partner Intel’s Xeon CPUs wasn’t easy. Cloudflare claims it ran several benchmarks for key workloads such as cryptography, compression, regular expressions, and LuaJIT. The single AMD EPYC 7642 performed very well during their lab testing. It comfortably beat their Gen 9 Server which was equipped with dual Intel Xeon Platinum 6162 with the same total number of cores.

Cloudflare Concerned About Security Apart From Efficiency Of Intel Xeon CPUs?

A single AMD EPYC CPU replacing two Intel Xeon processors has a direct impact on power efficiency. Cloudflare reportedly investigated the energy consumption or Requests Per Watt, and AMD EPYC was the obvious choice. The company indicated that AMD’s server-grade CPUs managed to keep Operational Costs significantly low. Interestingly, AMD does on average 25 percent better than Intel, claimed Cloudflare.

Although cost efficiency might have been the determining factor, Cloudflare did imply it was concerned about CPU-level vulnerabilities that have been recently discovered in Intel’s CPUs. Some of the most concerning threats like the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities do impact significantly on the operational efficiency as the risk mitigation methods tend to reduce processing abilities.

Intel is still a significantly large company compared to AMD. AMD reported Q4 2019 revenues of $2.13 billion, and a net income of $170 million. During the same period, Intel earned $20.2 billion and its net income was $6.9 billion respectively. However, the behemoth should be concerned about the rapid inroads AMD is making on its territory.

Cloudflare not only dropped Intel Xeon but also everything the chipmaker makes. The company isn’t using Intel hardware for any major server components such as the CPU, board, memory, storage, network interface card (or any type of accelerator).

Alap Naik Desai
A B.Tech Plastics (UDCT) and a Windows enthusiast. Optimizing the OS, exploring software, searching and deploying solutions to strange and weird issues is Alap's main interest.