Blogpost by Joonas Laitinen, Technical Account Manager, Nextron Finland.
I read quite long time ago that only resource that everyone has limited amount, is time. It does not matter, how wealthy or anything you are. Time is always limited. That’s why we always try to make things faster and easier in life. Why are we using microwaves, when you could heat your foods at the oven or on hotplate? Because its faster and easier to use microwave. In computing that same thing carries over.
And how do make things faster in computing? You have couple of ways of doing that. Either you can make single thing faster than before. That was the old way, that prevailed, until quite recently. Main issue in that type of method is that you have to rely on computer hardware to grow in power. They kind of do, but they have become faster in different way. This can be explained in an easy way, that people will understand from consumer point of view: Intel 7700K was released Q4 2016 is nearly as good in non parallised work than 9700K that was released Q4 2018. 9700K is still one of the best consumer CPUs to do singular things out there.
But if the work is able to utilize more CPU cores and/or threads, things change drastically. We have actually entered never before seen territory in this regard. Intel ruled to roost so long, that they got arrogant (Nokia anyone?), that they only made incremental increases to their CPU core amounts, but then came AMD. Intel’s top of the line Xeon CPU has 28 cores, and hefty price tag. AMD now has CPU that has 64 cores, and while it is not cheap, its still less expensive than Intel’s offering. This is how we now make things faster: we do more things at the same time.
What does options like this cost then? Well, if you want to do fast calculations, you also need fast storage, IE NVME storage. Let’s assume, you are going with as many cores you can, 25Gbe networking and 60tb of NVME storage.
If we go with “baseline” option of Intel’s Xeon platform, you are looking at price tag of 45 000€. But if we want to go with more recently released AMD option, we are looking at roughly 36 000€. Not only AMD platform is cheaper, it has total of 128 cores, while Intel’s Xeon platform has to get by with 56 cores. This begs the question, why would you go with Intel’s platform if you are only after as fast calculations as possible?