SANTA CLARA, Calif. Ė Applied Micro Circuits Corp. fired a shot across the bow of Intel, demonstrating the first 64-bit ARM server processor here. The X-Gene chip is the first of an array of competitors that will attack Intel's multi-billion dollar server franchise with cheaper, lower power ARM SoCs.
AMCC's X-Gene packs multiple 3 GHz cores complaint with the ARM 64-bit V8 architecture announced today at ARM Tech Con. The cores are quad-issue, out-of-order superscalar designs. The chip also sports Ethernet MACs, PCI Express and Serial ATA linked on an 80 GByte/second fabric.
The company showed a working version in an FPGA emulation it will ship in January. Silicon will sample in the second half of 2012.
Two other companies are developing 32-bit ARM server chips. Marvell has announced a quad-core ARM Cortex A9, and startup Calxeda has discussed plans for a 5W 32-bit ARM chip.
Calxeda is expected to announce its chip next week. Hewlett-Packard is expected to use it in some server systems.
In January, Nvidia said it is working on a full line of ARM computer processors spanning handhelds to supercomputers. ARM named Nvidia as one of three lead partners licensing the 64-bit V8 architecture along with AMCC and Microsoft.
"A new paradigm for developing data centers based on energy efficiency will certainly help make data centers scale realistically with future demand growth," said Linley Gwennap, principal analyst from Linley Group (Mountain View, Calif.), speaking in an AMCC press release.
"Our next-generation of multicore SoCs will bring in a new era of energy efficient performance that doesnít break the bank on a limited power supply," said Paramesh Gopi, chief executive of AMCC, also in the press release.
"We think there's an opportunity to fundamentally change the server market," said Lance Howarth, executive of vice president of market of ARM, speaking at an AMCC event at ARM TechCon.
"Volume servers are punishingly inefficient in today's workloads," said Andrew Feldman, chief executive of SeaMicro, a startup that has been shipping 32-bit Atom based servers and is now working with AMCC. "We're dazzled by what we could do with the [AMCC] technology here," he said.
EDN posted a demo of the X-Gene chip in an FPGA implementation conducted by Vinay Ravuri, general manager of AMCC's processor products.
Standing room only at the X-Gene demo.