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Qualcomm Debuts New ARM Server Chip

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted November 9, 2017


ARM in the datacenter has been something that has been talked about for years, with multiple vendors attempting different efforts. On Nov. 8th, mobile silicon giant Qualcomm announced its Centriq 2400 ARM chip, boasting the highest performance of any ARM server chip yet created.

The Centriq 2400 is built on a 10-nanometer process and fits a staggering 18 billion transistors onto its smallQualcomm ARM 398-millimeter surface. Each Centriq 2400 ARM chip can contain as many as 48 x 64-bit cores with a clock speed of 2.6 GHz.

In terms of memory, each Centriq 2400 can support up to 768 GB of DRAM spread across 6 channels of DDR4 memory.

For most of its history, Qualcomm has been best known as a mobile silicon provider. The move into the data center represents somewhat of a shift, as the company goes after high-value growth opportunities.

"We're targeting the server CPU portion first because our SoC design capabilities and access to the leading-edge process manufacturing node put us in a strong position to go after this significant industry opportunity," Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and general manager, Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies, Inc, wrote in a Q&A on the Qualcomm site.

"There's an incumbent in this industry, but we feel that customers are very open to an alternative like ours that brings a tremendous amount of innovation they can take advantage of," Chandrasekher continued.

The incumbent is of course Intel, and Qualcomm is making direct comparisons between its new ARM server chips and Intel's x86 Xeon chips. The Intel Xeon Platinum 8180 chips have 28 cores and 38.5 MB of level 3 cache and use 205W of power. In contrast, the top-end Qualcomm Centriq 2460 has 48 cores, 60 MB of Level 3 cache and only uses 120W of power.

"Excited about #QualcommCentriq ARM server chips," Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince tweeted. "On @Cloudflare's workloads we're seeing equivalent performance to Intel at half the power.

Qualcomm has specifically built the Centriq ARM chips for cloud workloads, including OpenStack, Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes as well as Big Data workloads running Apache Hadoop, Spark and Redis.

"Today's announcement is an important achievement and the culmination of more than four years of intense design, development and ecosystem enablement effort," Chandrasekher stated. "We have designed the most advanced ARM-based server processor in the world that delivers high performance coupled with the highest energy efficiency, enabling our customers to realize significant cost savings."

The new Qualcomm ARM chips come in the same week that Broadcom announced an unsolicited $130 billion acquisition offer.

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

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