I agree with you regarding Intel and profit opportunities, if they can make money on it they will. I was wondering what all the hoopla was about the ARM offering in the server market, but given the lower power requirements for ARM cores it makes a lot of sense. There are huge server farms that use an incredible amount of power and a machine / family that can save 5% or more would be worth the re-investment in the long run.
Intel putting pressure on ARM? That's a joke right? There's no significant way in which Intel is putting pressure on ARM right now.
ARM is the one attacking Intel's markets, and they may not be terribly successful YET, but Intel is the one feeling the pressure! And their profits will drop dramatically over the next 2 years because of it. Because they have to compete with ARM chips which are a lot cheaper.
A lot of server software will support the 64 bit ARM architecture from DAY ONE. In fact many already do support it, and it's still a year to go.
This is not like Windows and Windows RT. Most servers use Linux, and it has already been adapted for ARM.
People may recall that Intel once offered a line of ARM processors under the StrongARM label. Intel got the line from Digital Equipment as part of the settlement of a suit. StrongARM got rebranded as XScale, and XScale was eventually sold to Marvell in an Intel reorganization.
ARM is on a roll, due to perceived power advantages over Intel. ARM chips just use less power, and power requirements and associated costs are an increasingly large concern for data centers. With a line of 64 bit ARM cores in the offing, ARM based servers in the data center become a possibility. It's no great wonder an assortment of companies are looking to address the market.
I'm unconvinced by worries about software. What software actually runs on the server side? Offhand, the OS itself, and software that supports the server role. Linux is a very popular server OS, and it already runs on ARM. Windows 8 has been ported to ARM, so if MS sees a sufficient market, we can expect a Windows 8 Server implementation for ARM processors. In the current environment, other things that run server side are databases and web servers. Oracle is anyone's guess (though I'd be surprised if there wasn't an active porting effort), but MySQL has been built for the Raspberry Pi. Dell contributed a sample ARM port of Apache to the Apache Software Foundation.
Bottom line, if this takes off, I expect Intel be in the market, too. They were an ARM licensee, may still be, and want to sell silicon. If that means ARM because there's a market big enough to profitably address, I don't think "not invented here" will stop them.
In 10 years there will likely be three survivors, but who knows who they will be right now? As we reach the end of the road on semiconductor scaling, whole new areas of innovation must be found. 10 years from now, I think the market will look very different than it does now. Ten years ago, who would have guessed Apple approaching $200B in annual sales?
If AppliedMicro and Calxeda gain traction early they will be acquisition targets. Neither has the scale to compete in true server markets and they won't be able to grow fast enough on their own to fill the space. The market won't tolerate Intel as the only source of server/data center chips. There will clearly be an alternative ARM ecosystem that competes with Intel.
I am guessing he is about 3 too high on the count of survivors. What exactly can an ARM server core do than an undervolted x64 can't? And all that software that needs to be rewritten, retested, and recertified. It's not exactly that Intel will allow itself to be seriously underpriced, and this removes the only possible way these things can make inroads. Plus finfets should let them drop supply voltage even further. I smell an Itanium.
ARM's A9 & A15 cores will do just fine for :
HTC = High Throughput Computing
and not really for :
HPC = High Performance Computing
A15 need to put a cap on its peak power consumption in the range of less than 2 watts/core should be the target in the longer run.
Many-many, too-many cores will help to build next-gen data centre ARM server processor.
Data centre server processor should handle maximum small threads in the range of 16/32/64/128 simultaneously.
Data centre software threads are not compute (math) intensive and hence having many-many cores to handle many-many threads on a single chip will lead to increased energy efficiency and lower operating cost.
The ARM site lists 49 Mobile SOC IP vendors, that would be too many by how much in your opinion?
That's the ARM way, lots of vendors, competing often by carving out a unique niche in the ecosystem.
I guess maybe twice to three times, 16-32 ARM server vendors is possible. Think of the different things servers may do. The silicon needed for a render farm is different to a mass video encoding (YouTube) . Different again to a highly transactional database (banking), again to Data Wharehouse analytics. All with different compute, data latency, data throughput requirements.
Efficiency through specialisation.
What exactly is an ARM server chip? ARMv8 with 10G networking? Seems like a good combo for embedded networking applications also. Seems to me the best approach is still to provide a selection of generic, expandable interfaces, and most roadmaps I've seen (and I've seen quite a few) the chips will offer PCIe, USB3, SATA and 1G in addition to 10G or more.
I think you may be right as far as the number of vendors who end up inside the bulk of server shipments, but again, what exactly is an ARM server chip anyway?