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Intel Corporation Message Board

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  • theblueredmonk theblueredmonk Nov 30, 2012 8:36 AM Flag

    Why ARM servers don't seem to be threatening...

    So, on the last call, Paul noted that the 22nm Atom server chip was *sampling*. The next closest competitor in the ARM space - Applied Micro - has yet to tape out its X-Gene design. It's only running on FPGAs as of November 5th.
    -----

    The ARM server push is coming from different vendors (CPU designs & SoC designs) and will be hitting subsections of the market so will be very difficult to compare solutions.

    The X-Gene CPU (if Applied Micro's numbers are to be believed) will be the most powerful of the ARM 64 bit designs (so far announced), much more powerful than ARM's own 64 bit cores. It'll be up against low end 'real' servers designs from Intel, not Atom derived micro servers.

    ARM micro servers are shipping *today*, it's still early in the cycle, but do a search for calxeda to see what's what. It's an impressive SoC, not so much the CPU but the fabric that links everything together.

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    • The X-Gene CPU (if Applied Micro's numbers are to be believed) will be the most powerful of the ARM 64 bit designs (so far announced), much more powerful than ARM's own 64 bit cores. It'll be up against low end 'real' servers designs from Intel, not Atom derived micro servers.

      ===========

      So what prevents Intel from doing the same with low-power Xeons which they have already introduced...and will improve with even lower-power with next generations?

      Intel will have no choice but to plug all the low-end markets with perhaps lower margins than the high-end CPUs. But keep in mind, the ARM guys have to pay ARM, the processor designer, and the foundry - so they can't afford to give it away either.

      Most monopolies including Intel have a cash cow to rely on and build their adjacent spaces. I do see almost all of the ARM vendors, initially in the attempted server space and later in mobile, dropping off much like Texas Instruments did recently.

      • 2 Replies to ideal_invst
      • So what prevents Intel from doing the same with low-power Xeons which they have already introduced...and will improve with even lower-power with next generations?

        Intel will have no choice but to plug all the low-end markets with perhaps lower margins than the high-end CPUs. But keep in mind, the ARM guys have to pay ARM, the processor designer, and the foundry - so they can't afford to give it away either.
        ----

        I am sure they will.

        In the case of X-gene - it's their own designed core. They'll still have to pay something to ARM but it'll be a tiny fraction of the SoC's selling price. Even in the case of an ARM designed core (such as with AMD) the total cost of the licence and royalty over the life of the product is still (typically) less than the cost of designing and building your own core. This is the beauty of the IP business model.

        Just like the phone market, it's not just about the CPU it's the SoC - Server-on-chip as these guys now say. Intel could have the best CPU in terms of price/performance/watt but if it's not contained in the correct SoC package (the fabric) then they will struggle.

      • And, for sure, it won't happen immediately. But over time, I am sure it will.

    • I am not sure if anything that has an ARM A9 in it can be considered impressive.

      phoronixDOTcom/scan.php?page=article&item=calxeda_ecx1000_atom&num=2

      Clovertrail now does what D525 did at only 1.7W TDP

      phoronixDOTcom/scan.php?page=article&item=phoronix_effimass_cluster&num=11

      A single top end quad-core Ivy Bridge beats a twelve core A9 cluster in both performance and performance/watt.

 
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