Arm has stepped up its datacenter ambitions with Neoverse, a new line of processors aimed at cloud servers and edge devices for hyperscale environments.
Source: Arm Limited
The new chip line is designed for “higher-levels of performance, security, and scalability” that presumably will offer more capabilities than the current 64-bit Cortex-A72 and Cortex-A75 designs. We say presumably because Arm has not offered much in the way of technical details to back up those claims.
According to a blog penned by Drew Henry, Arm’s senior vice president and general manager of the Infrastructure Line of Business, the company is pledging to increase chip performance by about 30 percent per year, beginning with the Cosmos platform that is designed for today's 16nm process node. Next up will be Ares, a 7nm platform due out in 2019. The subsequent Zeus platform in 2020 and the Poseidon platform in 2021 are designed for the 7nm+ and 5nm process nodes, respectively. Arm is also promising to add new features with each platform generation.
The products will be principally aimed at cloud servers, network gateways and WAN routers for hyperscale datacenters that serve the multitude of IoT and mobile devices proliferating around the world. Such products would offer direct competition with Intel’s x86 Xeon and Xeon D processor lines. And at least for the server piece of this, Intel is by far the dominant vendor.
At this point, there doesn’t seem to be any effort to target the Neoverse line at HPC servers, although that could change. For the time being, Cavium (now part of Marvell), with its custom ThunderX2 implementation, and Fujitsu, with its Armv8-A Scalable Vector Extension (SVE) processor, known as A64FX, are the only Arm chips specifically built with high performance computing in mind.
Nevertheless, if Neoverse manages to establish a reasonable foothold in the hyperscale server space over the next couple of years – say a 10 percent market share – that would bode well for Arm-based HPC market as well. Note that a 10 percent market share is far above any level achieved by the likes of Arm server chipmakers Marvell/Cavium, Ampere/Applied Micro, or Qualcomm thus far.
Speaking of which, Arm has announced that Ampere, Marvell, and Qualcomm, as well as HXT Semiconductor have obtained Arm’s ServerReady certification to support Neoverse silicon, which implies they will be offering these chips in the coming years. ODMs Femrice, Gigabyte and UIT have also attained certification compliance. Besides the certification program, Arm is promising broad ecosystem support for Neoverse platforms, encompassing software, tools, and services.