Content network delivery firm Cloudflare said that it would deploy AMD Epyc CPUs in its latest server refresh, after finding that Intel's alternative used too much power.

The company said that it introduces a new server platform to its Edge network every 12 to 18 months, allowing for it to get the latest tech, while giving it enough time to thoroughly vet the hardware.

An Epyc pic

For its Generation 11 servers, Cloudflare looked to deploy an x86 CPU - giving it a choice between AMD and Intel. The company is separately experimenting with Edge servers using the Ampere Altra Arm architecture.

"We evaluated Intel’s latest generation of “Ice Lake” Xeon processors," platform operations engineer Chris Howells said.

"Although Intel’s chips were able to compete with AMD in terms of raw performance, the power consumption was several hundred watts higher per server - that’s enormous. This meant that Intel’s Performance per Watt was unattractive."

This offputting power usage meant that Cloudflare will deploy AMD's 64-core Epyc 7713 at over 200 Edge locations around the world.

Once the company settled on AMD, it then began experimenting with how best to design the rest of the server. Cloudflare chose to go from three 960GB Samsung hard drives to two 1.92TB ones, giving a terabyte more capacity whilst saving six watts.

"We ran a series of experiments with our chosen Epyc 7713 processor and 256GB, 384GB, and 512GB memory configurations," Howells continued. "We found that the 512GB configuration did not provide a performance boost to justify the extra cost and settled on the 384GB configuration."

The company said that the shift from generation 10 to 11 proved less work-intensive as the gen before. Howells explained: "The jump between our generation 9 and generation 10 servers was enormous. To summarise, we changed from a dual-socket Intel platform to a single socket AMD platform. We upgraded the SATA SSDs to NVMe storage devices, and physically the multi-node chassis changed to a 1U form factor."

From 10 to 11, with both servers based on AMD Epyc "our generation 11 server built upon the solid foundations of generation 10 and ended up as a refinement rather than total revamp." These changes have led to systems that are capable of serving approximately 29 percent more requests than generation 10 without an increase in power consumption.

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