A silicon wafer made up of Qualcomm’s Centriq 2400 server processors, based on ARM core designs. (Qualcomm Photo)
Qualcomm’s new ARM server processor is ready for commercial deployment, the company announced Wednesday, officially launching the latest effort to dent Intel’s control over the market for data center chips.
The Qualcomm Centriq 2400 has been talked about all year, but it’s now available for server makers and cloud vendors to kick the tires. During an event in San Jose, Calif., Qualcomm executives described the new processor as the most powerful ARM server processor yet built, which isn’t a high bar considering the track record of ARM server chips but sets up immediate comparisons with the Intel Xeon chips that are used to power around 95 percent of the servers in the world.
If you’re into the nitty-gritty details of how the Centriq 2400 works, The Next Platform has you covered. Samsung will manufacture the 48-core chip on its newest chip-making equipment, and it was “designed to deliver throughput performance for highly threaded cloud native applications that are developed as micro-services and deployed for scale-out,” Qualcomm said in a release, ticking off all the “this thing is great for the cloud!” boxes on the marketing checklist.
Qualcomm Senior Vice President Anand Chandrasekher at the launch event for the Centriq 2400 server processor. (Qualcomm Photo)
Several companies participated in Qualcomm’s launch event, including Microsoft (which has talked at length about its interest in having ARM in its data centers) and Cloudflare. Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince seems impressed:
Excited about #QualcommCentriq ARM server chips. On @Cloudflare’s workloads we’re seeing equivalent performance to Intel at half the power.
— Matthew Prince (@eastdakota) November 8, 2017
It will take several months, maybe even a year, before we have a handle on whether or not Qualcomm and ARM, which just opened an office in Bellevue, have made the server breakthrough they’ve been wanting for a very long time. ARM, which designs cores for processors that are completed and manufactured by other companies, is at the heart of just about every smartphone on the planet but has struggled to replicate that success with bigger computers.
But ARM’s strength in delivering performance-per-watt — a key consideration for data center operations burdened with enormous electrical bills to keep their systems cool — has long attracted the attention of server makers and cloud companies, which design and build a lot of their servers themselves. Right now, this industry runs on Intel, which just completed the rollout of a new generation of server chips that found their way into Amazon Web Services this week.
It’s an interesting time for Qualcomm as well, reeling from its legal battle with Apple and a takeover attempt by Broadcom. It could use a hit.