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Ampere Ramps Up Its eMAG Arm Server Platform Silicon

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted September 21, 2018


Back on Feb. 5, Ampere emerged from stealth with former Intel President Renee James at the helm. Ampere's mission is not a simple one: to disrupt the market Intel has dominated for decades, with advanced Arm server designs.

Now seven month later, Ampere has revealed its product direction, starting with announcing the eMAG Arm silicon on AmpereSept. 18. The eMAG platform integrates 32 Ampere-designed Arm v8 cores, running up to 3.3 GHz on a chip.

The platform can support up to 8x DDR4 memory controllers and 42 lanes of PCIe 3.0 for bandwidth I/O. Ampere already has a partnership with Lenovo to build new server platforms based on the eMAG.

The eMAG effort didn't get started at Ampere; rather, it has its roots in a design that originated at Applied Micro with the X-Gene chip.

Applied Micro first publicly began talking about the X-Gene in 2016. Applied Micro was acquired by Macom in late 2016, who in turn sold the intellectual property (IP) to the Carlyle Group, which is the lead investor behind Ampere.

"We bought the IP and finished the product that is now shipping," Matt Taylor, senior VP of worldwide sales and business development at Ampere, told ServerWatch.

Ampere, much like Applied Micro before it, does not have its own fabrication facilities. Taylor said Ampere collaborates with TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) and has a strong working relationship. That relationship provides leverage on pricing and access to their next generation leading-edge technology, according to Taylor.

eMAG More Than Just a Chip

The eMAG platform isn't just a chip; it also requires purpose-built eMAG motherboard and BIOS components.

"Ampere has two boards available today: one directly from Ampere and one from our branded OEM partner Lenovo," Taylor said.

A key part of any server platform is operating system enablement. When asked if Ampere is working with any specific Linux vendors to help enable/optimize an OS environment for the chip, Taylor responded that Ampere plans on announcing details on a developer program in October.

"We have a competitive product with advantages around memory bandwidth, TCO and performance per watt that are addressing customers’ workload requirements," Taylor said. "We are focused on solutions that deliver advantages for public and private cloud environments through our performance cores, high-speed connectivity and low power. "

Looking forward, he said Ampere has a multi-generational roadmap and will begin designs with customers in 2019 for the company's next products.

"The next products will be built on 7nm with multi-socket and single socket options," Taylor said.  

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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