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Google announces Axion ARM-based data centre CPU

Written by Thu 11 Apr 2024

Image Credit: Reuters

Google has revealed the creation of its Axion processors, the company’s first custom ARM-based data centre central processing units (CPUs).

Google Axion Processors were created to deliver ‘industry-leading performance and energy efficiency’, and will be available to developers by the end of 2024.

Currently, it does not appear that the Axion CPUs will be offered for sale to the general public. Instead, like the Google Tensor Processing Units (TPUs), they will likely be available to users through the Google Cloud Platform.

The company noted that once available, users can access Axion through Google Cloud services including Google Compute Engine, Kubernetes Engine, Dataproc and Dataflow, and more. The company has also launched preview support for ARM migration in the Google ‘Migrate to Virtual Machines’ service.

The new Axion processors will utilise ARM’s highest-performing CPU cores to provide a 30% performance improvement over the fastest ARM instances available today and 50% better performance than comparable x86 chips. The new Axion processors will also be 60% more energy-efficient than commonly used CPUs.

The new Google processors were developed using the ARM Neoverse V2 CPU. The goal was to optimise performance for data-intensive workloads like data analytics engines, containerised microservices, and CPU-based artificial intelligence (AI) training, among others. Google plans to use Axion to deliver Google services including YouTube Ads, BigTable, BigQuery, Spanner, and more.

CEO of ARM, Rene Haas, noted that the Axion CPU is a milestone in delivering custom silicon optimised specifically for Google’s infrastructure.

“Decades of ecosystem investment, combined with Google’s ongoing innovation and open-source software contributions ensure the best experience for workloads that matter most to customers running on ARM everywhere.” said Haas.

Axion is built on ARM, but underpinned by Titanium microcontrollers, which help to manage operations like networking and security. In the same vein, I/O processing is offloaded to Hyperdisk. This integration helps improve Axion performance by freeing up additional capacity that can be devoted to core functions.

Vice President of Compute and Machine Learning Infrastructure at Google Cloud, Mark Lohmeyer, said the company is making it easy for users to bring their existing workloads to ARM.

“Axion is built on open foundations but users using ARM anywhere can easily adopt Axion without re-architecting or re-writing their apps,” said Lohmeyer.

In February, Google reinforced its commitment to the UK’s digital economy with a £788.4 million ($1 billion) investment in a new data centre. The facility will be based in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire.

This investment is part of Google’s ongoing efforts to support the growing demand for services like Search, Maps, YouTube, Workspace, and Google Cloud.

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Written by Thu 11 Apr 2024

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