A few days ago, Clay Magouyrk, executive vice president of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Engineering, published an article entitled “Arm-based cloud computing is the next big thing: Introducing Arm on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure”. In the article, he first pointed out that the market is changing, and Arm processors are increasingly moving from smartphones to edge devices, PCs, laptops, and even servers. “Arm processors are everywhere now,” stressed Clay Magouyrk.
According to Clay Magouyrk, the reason why Arm can compete with competitors in many fields is mainly because Arm first has lower cost and power consumption, and after years of promotion, Arm is also in performance. Substantial improvement. For this reason, in his view, Arm servers will become the absolute performance leaders in the future, and will bring advantages such as performance consistency and enhanced security. Now is also the time for developers to use Arm to build the next generation of applications.
As a cloud technology provider, Oracle has accelerated its embrace of Arm servers after seeing this trend. To that end, they announced the Ampere A1 computing platform for Oracle’s cloud infrastructure based on Arm chips. According to Clay Magouyrk in the article, the Ampere A1 platform is the price/performance leader in cloud computing. According to industry standard SpecInt and SpecFP benchmarks, the Ampere A1 delivers 2.5 times the price-performance of comparable Arm-based server instances and 4 times or more the price-performance of comparable x86-based Intel Skylake or AMD Naples instances.
To obtain such high-quality performance, it mainly relies on the Altra processor of chip design company Ampere Computing. And as the leader in the Arm server chip market, the start-up is freshly prepared for the future.
A rising star in the Arm service chip market
As Clay Magouyrk said in the article, there has been intense competition between server CPU architectures over the past few decades, and architectures such as SPARC, MIPS, and POWER have all had their place in the past. But in the end, the x86 architecture triumphed and dominated this market, taking over 90% of the market.
Because the server market has huge room for growth, this has attracted the attention of Arm, which is in the mobile market. Industry chip expert Winnie Shao introduced in her article “The Chronicle of Arm Server Chips” that since 2008, Arm and its partner chip manufacturers have attacked the server chip market three times. After the first two failures, Arm server chips Chips finally came to fruition in the third shock, and it was at this stage that Ampere Computing grew up.
Ampere Computing’s official website shows that the company was founded in February 2018 with the vision to solve the limitations of emerging hyperscale cloud applications and next-generation data centers in terms of memory performance, cost, space and power consumption. Ampere was born and serves both private and public clouds, providing customers with reliable 64-bit Arm server processors with higher memory performance and significantly lower total cost of ownership (TCO). The company has been invested by Carlyle Group. In 2019, Ampere Computing announced that the company had received investment from several companies including Arm and Oracle.
While gaining the favor of capital, Ampere Computing also launched the eMAG processor and the industry’s first 80-core server processor Ampere Altra in September 2018 and June 2020, respectively. In June 2020, Ampere Computing announced the industry’s first product series with the largest number of cores (128) – Ampere Altra Max.
According to reports, applications using Ampere Altra Max will be able to give full play to the advantages of horizontal expansion and elastic cloud architecture. It is also compatible with Ampere’s 80-core Altra processor and supports dual-socket server platforms. In addition, it will bring the industry’s highest slot-level performance and I/O scalability.
Jeff Wittich, chief product officer of Ampere Computing, also emphasized in an interview with the semiconductor industry watch and other media that the predictable high performance, high scalability and high energy efficiency of Altra and Altra Max are its three most important points. Aspects that are very important to cloud native.
He further pointed out that because of the predictable high performance. Therefore, when customers use Ampere’s Altra and Altra Max processors, they can not only surpass X86 in performance, but also surpass it with unique cloud characteristics; at the same time, because the performance of the processor is very stable, even if there are many users at the same time, and There are many different workloads that can also run smoothly.
While improving chip performance, Ampere is also working with industry partners to vigorously promote the construction of the Arm server chip ecosystem.
Renee James gave an example: “As an open company, Ampere was born on the cloud, using open source software, participating in open source projects, and sharing all its product information with everyone through the cloud.” “Ampere has a very strong compiler team, There is also a very good team working on the kernel. So we do a lot of work to optimize compilers, such as the C compiler, GCC, etc. And we also optimize the Linux kernel. Our goal is to continue to contribute to optimization, for The open source community contributes. Not just our own compiler,” added Jeff Wittich.
With these cost-effective products and investment in ecology, Ampere Computing has established and cooperated with leading manufacturers such as Microsoft, Tencent, Oracle, UCloud and ByteDance in the past few years. After designing several products with Arm’s own IP, Ampere Computing released a new roadmap to fulfill the company’s goal of bringing innovation to the cloud and data center.
Brand new roadmap
When introducing the company’s progress in the past few years, Ampere Computing Chairman and CEO Renee James said that as a licensee and an important partner of the Arm architecture, Ampere has used Arm’s IP in early products. But at the same time, the company is also developing its own IP.
“We have been working hard to develop our own cores and IP from the beginning to prepare for future products. Based on our self-developed Ampere core, a new generation of processors built on the 5nm process will also be sampled in 2022,” Renee James stressed. .
Ampere didn’t say much about the specific details of this 5nm chip, but when asked why it developed its own core, Jeff Wittich told reporters: “The company’s current Altra and Altra Max processors both use the N1 core from ARM. The performance is also very good. But because the products we develop are specifically for the cloud, not other data center applications or other customer applications. More importantly, we must provide customers with specialized customized services , to create the functions required by customers. This requires us to develop products from the micro-architecture all the way up to meet the needs of customers.”
“From the perspective of performance, Ampere hopes to further optimize the micro-architecture to achieve higher-level performance. We can continue to increase the number of cores to ensure that the environment is independent, and the cores are isolated from each other. Will interfere with each other, we can provide lower power consumption, can carry the innovative cloud server performance that customers demand. And, by using our self-developed cores, we can speed up processing and be more efficient.” Jeff Wittich continued.
When talking about the future development of the company’s chips, Renee James said that the Arm server market is actually a brand new market, and Ampere is determined to win this market, and has developed an unprecedented high-performance cloud server processor.
Ampere’s product roadmap for the next five years will be more innovative, with higher performance, lower power consumption, and more unique capabilities for the cloud. In addition, based on the continuous invention and innovation of Ampere, we will continue to make breakthroughs in the next five years.
Ampere Computing’s CTO Atiq Bajwa also pointed out that the company’s goal is to build the best processors for cloud computing. This means that Ampere can focus unwaveringly on the elements that are important to the cloud, without being constrained by traditional software stacks and other market segments such as client, HPC, and enterprise data centers.
“Ampere’s vision is to build cloud-optimized products that deliver the best performance on data center workloads, both at the single-threaded or vCPU level and single-chip performance, enabling performance that scales to a large number of threads, Consistent performance, predictable performance, and efficient performance while avoiding security breaches, delivering the lowest power consumption per core and the highest performance per watt,” Atiq Bajwa emphasized. “Ampere provides the architectural support of modern cloud computing software, with robustness and controllability at scale. We provide architectural components that are flexible and responsive to the unique needs of our customers,” added Atiq Bajwa.
He further pointed out that the company’s future innovation direction will include technology, tools, methods, IP, software, design methods, packaging, mass production and platform design, etc., which will enable the company to provide customers with differentiated value.
“We will continue to introduce new products every year to provide users with the highest performance, including a single vCPU, server, rack, and the highest number of cores and the highest performance per watt, which are critical metrics for cloud native computing. We have a clear Our strategic plan is to become a leader in the cloud native field. We also pay attention to the innovation trends of our customers and see what innovative services they need from us,” Jeff Wittich finally emphasized.