Unlike the A15 generation,
however, ARM is not positioning the v8 as a server architecture. In
fact, the company highlighted the use of the architecture in future
smartphones, despite the fact that most of the initial processors will
be targeting server applications.
The reason for the smartphone
positioning is to emphasis the low-power design requirements for the new
cores that will allow them to meet the needs of a broad range of
computing applications ranging from mobile devices to servers. Although
the cores work together in support of the big-little strategy in mobile
applications, the server based products will be more homogeneous in
nature using either multiple A57 or A53 cores, which is a more practical
configuration for server applications. AMD has already indicated that
its future ARM-based Opteron processors will be featuring the A57 core.
software support is expected to come from open-source solutions, but it
is likely that Microsoft and other proprietary platforms will be
supporting the ARM solutions by the anticipated 2014/2015 introduction
Although the news of the v8 architecture is not new,
the achievement of the core development milestones and support from the
ecosystem demonstrates the potential for the ARM architecture as it
expands into other computing segments.
Although I would not go
as far as other industry watchers in calling this an x86 killer, the
focus on power efficiency and a robust ecosystem ensures that the new
architecture will be an attractive solution for some server
Initial success will still hinge on the
availability of tools, support of OEMs, and willingness of customers to
invest in porting applications over to the ARM architecture. Early
success of the ARM ecosystem is likely to be in larger enterprise and
data center implementations that are focused on managing high network
traffic or executing massively parallel computing algorithms. More
details on the new architecture and outlook for the architecture will be
available in an upcoming whitepaper from Tirias Research.
Jim McGregor is the founder and principal analyst at Tirias Research.