There’s another ugly bit. AMD hopes to differentiate its 64-bit ARM
server SoC with its time-tested SeaMicro fabric. The so-called Freedom
Fabric has been working in products for more than a year, far ahead of
ARM server SoC rivals Calxeda and Applied Micro. It can be used not only
for connecting chips between boards but for connecting between chassis
for data storage.
But ask Jay Parikh, Facebook's vice president
of infrastructure, what he thinks of these hot fabrics and he’ll tell
you he’s cold on them. “Proprietary fabrics are not something we are
interested in,” he said in conversation after a panel session at AMD’s
ARM server event.
I have talked to Facebook engineers who said they want to use nothing
but standard interconnects like PCI Express in their servers. They don’t
even want Ethernet on server motherboards because it only makes it
harder to upgrade rapidly changing CPUs.
Today, Facebook wants
2.5- to 2.7-GHz processors for its Web tier, which is just one of
hundreds of workloads it maintains. That’s a fast pace for ARM server
SoCs, but not out of range. Parikh said Facebook will not consider any
32-bit ARM designs—its software is all 64-bit--but left a door open
about possible 64-bit ARM chips.
In the end, AMD took a historic
step outside the x86 world today. But it leads down a pretty dark and
twisting path for a company that isn’t packed for a long journey.
AMD to ship ARM-based server SoCs in 2014
AMD lays off 15 percent, eyes embedded push