Cray outs AMD Epyc based C5500 supercomputer line

Two nodes add up to a big mindshare win

AMD Epyc logoIt looks like AMD is back in the supercomputer game as Cray announces the Epyc 7000 based C5500 cluster system. SemiAccurate thinks this is a good first step but the C5500 isn’t the gigantic monster you might think it is.

Today’s Cray announcement is noteworthy for what it does, not so much what it is. What it does is bring AMD back into the top line supercomputer game, effectively saying that if it is good enough for Cray, it is good enough for your jobs. That is a big win in mindshare and alone worth any effort AMD put into the project.

On the hardware side things are a bit less spectacular but have some very interesting goodies. There are two 2U systems available in the C5500 line, a 2S/node 4-node variant with 2x PCIe3 16x per node and a 1-node system. The latter is for large memory configurations, the former is a compute heavy form factor.

The large memory variant is the interesting one, each Epyc CPU has eight memory channels, if you slow things down a bit, you might be able to get 3-4 DIMMs per channel meaning some pretty massive memory configurations. Better yet for AMD, Intel is extorting customers who want large memory configurations, >768GB/socket comes with an ~$3000 price premium. AMD allows for almost 3x that with off the shelf parts and ODM/OEM chassis.

Cray says the C5500 line will be available this summer, have 200GbE network capabilities, and support various memory and storage options. Better yet they come in a range of fashionable colors, southwest tones for the 2018 line to complement modern fashion trends. Just kidding on that last bit. SemiAccurate thinks this is a good platform to reveal some of the upcoming technologies AMD has in the wings for supercomputing, keep an eye on this one.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate