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AMD CEO Lisa Su discusses the company’s second-generation Epyc processors. (AMD Photo)

Chip watchers think the second generation of AMD’s Eypc server processors could finally inject some competition into the market for data center chips, and the company now counts one of the biggest buyers of those chips on the planet as a customer.

Amazon Web Services will offer cloud computing instances that run on AMD’s Epyc processors across three of its tiers, the companies announced Tuesday during an event that discussed the second generation of those processors in more detail. When that new “Zen 2” generation is ready for business at some point next year, it will provide almost twice as much performance as the processors AWS is now offering.

Intel’s server chips are used in nearly all the servers that power the cloud; estimates vary, but its market share is north of 95 percent. It has had this market all to itself for years in large part because AMD fell into another one of the multiyear doldrums it has encountered in the server market after it scared the life out of Intel with its Opteron designs more than a decade ago, the last time server buyers enjoyed real competition.

But the new Epyc design has arrived at the right time, as Intel struggles with delays in its most advanced manufacturing process and chip shortages that have only affected its PC business to date. Support from AWS signals that those competitive days might soon be back again after Microsoft and Baidu announced last year that they would support AMD new processors, and none of those companies would make a long-term decision about the engine behind their most basic services without a close look at AMD’s road map.

AWS will offer customers looking for general-purpose computing, memory-optimized computing, or burstable computing instances (which can automatically scale to handle a temporary spike in demand) the choice of AMD’s processors, with support for the burstable instances not expected to arrive for a few weeks. Customers using AWS in its US East (Ohio, N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), Europe (Ireland), or Asia Pacific (Singapore) regions will be able to tap into the new AMD-powered services, which is a pretty broad show of support from the leading cloud provider.

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