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Qualcomm’s new 10nm server chip promises an ARM revolution in the data centre

Thu 8 Dec 2016

Qualcomm has given a demonstration of its new 10-nanometre server processor, a significant development which the company says is aimed directly at data centre applications.

The test was reported by the company at its own site and introduced the first in a new range of the Qualcomm Centriq product family – a 48-core 2400 series offering built over a 10nm FinFet process and an ARMv8-compliant core specifically designed for the common rigours of data centre workloads.

The new server chip leverages Qualcomm’s Falkor CPU, an SBSA-compliant module that ensures compatibility between a 2400-based server and the ARMv8 platform.

The demonstration is reported to have involved interaction between an unbranded iteration of Hadoop with Twitter and Google APIs, and Apache Spark. The demo took place on an unspecified Linux distro using Java middleware; no containers or VM instances were used, and all the components were apparently open source.

Though the family of processors is being promoted with a ceiling of 48 cores, it is not clear how many cores were in use during the demonstration, or if the higher-number cores are currently vaporous and – presumably – coming in 2017. Qualcomm says that the initial offerings will be released to market in the second half of next year.

Anand Chandrasekher, Senior Vice President and GM at Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies, commented of the release:

‘This revolutionary processor is purpose-built for performance-oriented datacenter applications. As the first in the Qualcomm Centriq product family, the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 series has up to 48 cores. It features a Qualcomm Falkor CPU — our custom ARMv8 CPU core that’s optimized for server-class workloads. The Falkor CPU is the result of generations of CPU design expertise combined with talent from throughout the server industry.’

Qualcomm is reported to be running sampling trials of the new processors with select customers, although no industry-standard benchmark analytics were used in the inaugural demonstration.

The FinFet method of chip fabrication uses a process of built layers almost analogous to 3D-printing. Though Intel and Micron’s 3D XPoint architecture employs the method, its only commercial offerings to date have been memory modules.

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