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AppliedMicro Shows Off 64-bit ARMv8

It is not surprising that Arm TechCon was the place where Arm and AppliedMicro (Applied Micro Circuits Corp.) delivered Arm's new 64-bit ARMv8 architecture (see ARM Joins The 64-bit Club). This move has been expected since 64-bit platforms are dominated by Intel's architecture. The initial display was actually running on a Xilinx FPGA. AppliedMicro will be delivering silicon next year.

Unlike Intel's multichip solutions, AppliedMicro will be delivering the X-Gene Server-on-a-Chip. Like most existing ARM-based chips, the Server-on-Chip will be a complete system with peripherals like Gigabit Ethernet, SATA and PCI Express.The 3 GHz quad core chips will put it on par with processors from AMD and Intel. AppliedMicro will be using 40nm and 28nm technology. It remains to be seen whether the new chips will take on the high end, x86_64 server solutions but they will definitely give the low to mid range platforms a run for their money.

The X-Gene is similar to the Cortex-A15 with a quad issue, out-of-order superscalar pipeline so Arm is not new at this. It is just extending the width of the registers. Arm has already had virtualization support so these new chips will be able to handle virtualized environments that dominate the cloud.

Of course, low power, combined with high performance will be the mantra that Arm's partners will be chanting and it has a great track record so far. Given how important power management is to servers these days this can only be a good thing.

You don't have to wait for Arm cores in the server if 32-bit platforms are suitable for you applications. Mobile Integration Workgroup has a 2U rack system with 16 Marvell AP510 processors. The ARMblock16 delivers 48 32-bit cores with a power requirement under 100W. Expect the X-Gene to follow suit.

Don't expect server vendors like Intel, AMD, Oracle or IBM to go running for the hills but the will have to answer the low power, high performance solutions that will be coming from Arm partners. This can only be good for users.

Check out the videos I did at Arm TechCon on Engineering TV. It includes the ARMblock16 as well as Texas Instrument's new Sitara AM335x that is on the new BeageBone board.

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