ARM getting server traction

Server revenues are trickling into ARM for the first time.

“Our first partners are starting to get their first results,” Pete Hutton executive v-p and president of ARM’s product group told Electronics Weekly.

Hutton sees the server market as a 50 million unit a year opportunity and ARM aspires to a 5-10% market share by 2017.

This year it sees itself gaining a ‘single digit percentage’ market share.

Asked if the collapse of Calxeda has had any effect on ARM’s momentum in servers, Hutton replied: “It’s unfortunate for them. We’ve hired a few of their guys. They tried to go with 32-bit but the market really wants 64-bit and those guys are getting traction.”

A major plus for ARM’s move into servers is the launch of AMD’s ARM-based server offerings. “Their experience in this space is a real advantage,” said Hutton.

However the biggest advantage ARM has in the server space is the opportunity it gives customers to customise their ARM-based SoCs for servers.

Intel just provides a ready-made chip and peripherals and the customer can take it or leave it – but if an ARM core is used a customer can tailor the server SoC precisely to his requirement.

With the big datacentre operators – Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google et al - increasingly drawing up their own server specs which they then bung over to the Taiwan OEMs for implementation, the customisation opportunity is becoming increasingly valuable.

Related news: Facebook tech summit launches ARM-based servers

Asked what he thought of the characterisation that the heavy-lifting in servers needs to be done by Intel processors while lighter tasks can be left to ARM processors, Hutton replied:

“I’d say that’s an Intel characterisation. ARM-based solutions can use multiple high performance cores for heavy-lifting.”

ARM partner Applied Micro has a server chip which uses eight 64-bit ARM cores each running at 3GHz.

Finfet processes will add quite a bit to the performance as ARM has found from running its processors on TSMC’s 16nm finfet process. When will we see 16nm ARM-based SoCs on the market.

“We’re squinting at this year,” said Hutton.



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