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Rising star of server CPU challenges Intel and AMD

via:驱动之家     time:2020/6/29 17:48:30     readed:501

This week, good news about arm based CPUs for non mobile phones, especially arm server chips, has been heaped up.

Among them, the following three are of high concern: first, apple officially announced that it would abandon the use of traditional Intel CPU in its MAC series computers, and switch to the self-developed arm architecture processor; secondly, in the latest global supercomputing TOP500 ranking, fugaku with ARM processor won the first place, which also created the history of ARM chip; thirdly, the new arm server CPU launched 128 cores The new product.

Compared with all kinds of negative news in previous years, the good news of arm server CPU has been constantly in the past two years. It seems that after technical iteration and performance improvement, as well as the increasing demand of downstream users for non x86 architecture server CPU, arm server CPU is on the rise in both technology and market. Although there is a significant gap with the overall competitiveness of X86 series, its development is still in progress The momentum seems to have been a lot faster and entered a period of rapid development.

First of all, many big customers need the performance provided by ARM CPU. In addition, the software ecosystem based on arm, including app and operating system, is also maturing. Moreover, the innovation of X86 series is slowing down.

The development of cloud computing also gives arm architecture processor development opportunities. CPU needs some special properties and characteristics to meet the cloud native characteristics, including: 1. Predictable high performance; 2. High scalability; 3. High energy efficiency.

128 core arm server chip

Based on this market demand, in March this year, ampere company launched the 80 core arm server chip Altra series, which has the characteristics of high memory bandwidth and high density.

In the past few months, the company has been working closely with several world-class cloud service providers in China and the United States, focusing on how to improve the performance of customer applications. After being aware of the pain points of customers, ampere launched the enhanced Altra max, which has 128 cores.

From 80 to 128, how does kernel expansion help improve the overall performance of the data center? The first is the scalability that attracts the most attention of the industry. To that end, the company compared its Altra series with Intel and AMD processors. With the increase of the number of cores, the performance expansion also shows a linear growth.

Jeff Wittich, Senior Vice President of Ampere Products, said:


Figure 1: Jeff Wittich, senior vice president, amber products

As shown in Figure 2, Altra has obvious advantages in scalability compared with AMD's epyc and Intel's Xeon.

In epyc, with the increase of threads, the performance has not been increased correspondingly. In addition, the performance of Xeon did not decrease as early as 20.

Since Intel didn't focus on performance improvement before, the power will gradually decrease as the number of threads increases. Jeff Wittich believes that the disadvantages of these two processors are more obvious, especially in the cloud environment, because as more and more users, they may enjoy the speed of performance degradation.

On the contrary, when using Altra processor, with the increase of new users in the cloud, new users enjoy the same processor performance after the workflow is on the cloud as before, and there will be no attenuation.


Figure 2

It is estimated that by 2023, 80% of the workload will be migrated to microservices, which means that in the future, better single core predictability is needed, and the performance of each core is predictable; higher kernel density is required, and single core power consumption is required to be better, and this trend will continue to accelerate in the future. This is why 128 core Altra Max processors are introduced.

Altra Max is also based on TSMC's 7Nm process, and its samples will be available in the fourth quarter of 2020. According to Jeff Wittich, Altra Max and Altra are slot compatible and have the same memory. This means that customers can use Altra's development platform as well as Altra max.

In the future, ampere will launch a series of products, including a future with 5nm process, which will be available in 2022.

The 5nm product has completed the tape out of the test chip. According to Jeff Wittich, ampere is designed to make it very convenient for cloud service providers and ODMs to use. Each category supports two slots and has the same IO scalability.

We have a total of 11 categories of products, cloud and ODM customers can choose according to their application types and TDP preferences. Lower TDP power consumption is also very beneficial. Compared with AMD's epyc, Altra's TDP can achieve less than 100 with 64 cores. With the decline of TDP, the performance advantage will be more obvious.

There are 32 high-performance kernels available in some low-power application scenarios, such as edge computing, with a TDP of only 45 to 58 Watts.. Jeff Wittich indicated that:


Figure 3 for the problem of customers migrating from x86 to arm, Jeff Wittich said that in this process, especially for the end users of Altra processor, the work needed to be done is less and less. We have some software engineers to support this work to ensure the smooth progress of the basic work. We have also optimized the system and kernel, and done a lot of basic work in Java. We carry out real-time integration and update of some basic software every day. These basic system software runs well on Altra platform.

cooperative partner

According to Jeff Wittich, ampere has many partners, such as packet, cloudflower, scaleway, Phoenix, genymotion and NVIDIA.

It is reported that ampere has been working with packet for many years, which is a provider of infrastructure and services for cloud developers. Packet has started to use Altra processor. Cloudfire is mainly used for storing web pages. They appreciate the power consumption and performance of Altra processor. It is reported that they will release some relevant data indicators using Altra processor at the end of this year.

In addition, the company also works with other types of partners in the entire ecosystem, such as some ODMs, who also integrate Ampere's products to provide services to end users. Phoenix will add the Altra range to their offering in the next few months.

Jeff Wittich indicated that:

Recently, NVIDIA announced that they have provided a series of tools and CUDA libraries, which are based on the arm version. For the past few years, ampere has been working with NVIDIA to help them develop video card based software stacks using Altra processors. In the future, AI and image processing can run on Altra processor. In addition, Altra is also used by some large cloud service providers in China.


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