Recently, Bloomberg ran an article claiming that Qualcomm was seeking to close down or find a buyer for it’s ARM Server processor, the Centriq. While the report has not been publicly confirmed by the company, if true, this would be welcome news to Cavium who just launched their ThunderX2 ARM Server processor. Ampere could also benefit from this, as they are currently preparing to launch an updated X-Gene ARM Server processor based on the Applied Micro deisgn.
It would be a loss for the ARM Server ecosystem as a whole though, as the Centriq was well received in the press and reviews showed that the chip offered superior performance, lower power consumption, and excellent network throughput.
Here’s hoping this report is false!
Tirias Research recently released a new Report detailing the Qualcomm Centriq Total Cost of Ownership versus an Intel Xeon x86 platform on a common workload, and the Qualcomm came out far ahead. The full article is located here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tiriasresearch/2018/02/20/qdt-improved-server-tco/#3bbff2bc4675 The relevant piece is this:
Our TCO analysis demonstrated that using only one Qualcomm Centriq 2452 SoC per server chassis, a 12kW rack full of 36 46-core SoCs should show slightly better performance than a rack full of Intel Xeon Silver 4110 dual-socket server chassis, at only 51% of the power consumption. That’s similar performance with about half the power consumption.
Using two Qualcomm Centriq 2452 SoCs per server chassis in a 12kW rack should yield a little over double the performance of the dual-socket Intel Xeon Silver 4110 servers at 88% of the power consumption. A key factor is that only 35 of the Intel Xeon Silver 4110 systems can fit within the 12kW rack power budget. In this scenario, Qualcomm Centriq 2400 offers double the performance with less power consumption.
So, a single socket Centriq is essentially using half as much power for the exact same performance and workload, translating in to real savings. And, there is room for performance improvement as well, by moving up to a dual socket design. In that scenario, doubling the performance of the Xeon rack still results in a 12% power budget savings. Double the performance and still drawing less power per rack, Qualcomm’s going to be challenging Intel’s dominance in the datacenter.
Qualcomm has announced their new ARM Server processor, called the Centriq 2400, which is designed for high efficiency processing and is capable of handling datacenter workloads. While Cavium, AMD, and Applied Micro all have ARM Server processors, Qualcomm’s new processor is the first to be built on a 10-nanometer manufacturing process. It will be able to handle cloud software stacks now that the software ecosystem has matured, and should be able to compete with Xeon offerings as the hyperscalers like Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba, and China Mobile build out next generation datacenters.
Qualcomm has lots of experience of course developing, manufacturing, and selling ARM processors via their Snapdragon line of cell phone chips, so they do have an edge on the competition as vendors like Cavium and Applied Micro don’t have the same experience and relationships already built. Additionally, Qualcomm can leverage some synergies with the Snapdragon 820 and 835, albeit they definitely have their differences.
With another vendor now entering the ARM Server marketplace (and a major one at that), the future is looking bright for ARM gaining more traction and making inroads in the datacenter.