Ampere is bringing back ARM-based CPU for servers. Ampere unveiled their 80-core behemoth CPU and are posing to be a great contender to Intel’s Xeon and AMD’s EPYC lineup. The Altra Ampere looks like a hope for the ARM CPU to make it to mainstream server computers.
Altra Ampere performs better than the AMD EPYC and Intel Xeon
The Altra boasts an 80-core x64 ARM-based CPU with no simultaneous hyperthreading. The CPU will have only 80 cores and 80 threads. It has 64KB level 1 I/D Cache per core and a total of 32 MB cache, quite less compared to the competition. The CPU cores are based on the Ampere Neoverse N1 CPU design. Yes, its an ARM v8.2 based CPU, but it borrows features from v8.3 and v8.5 like mitigations of side-channel attacks, etc.
Ampere created the CPU using TSMC’s 7nm processing node. The Alta supports DDR4-3200 memory with ECC support. Not only that, it promotes 4TB per socket. Ampere is targeting the CPU towards server applications such as data analytics, web hosting, artificial intelligence, database, storage, edge computing, and cloud-native applications. Ampere isn’t bringing ARM CPU to home-based PCs like Huawei, and Zhao Xin is attempting.
So Ampere plans to ship the CPU as a single socket configuration and dual configuration. The CPU has an all-core turbo clock speed of 3.0 GHz and 128 PCIe 4.0 lanes. The PCIe lanes can be increased to 192 PCIe 4.0 lanes. It has a 180W TDP.
Altra Performs faster than the fastest AMD EPYC 7742
Ampere released some numbers regarding the Altra comparing it to AMD EPYC 7742 and Intel Xeon Platinum 8280. Ampere smokes Intel’s Xeon and performs slightly better than AMD’s EPYC.
The charts delivered by Ampere are questionable as it uses the SPECrate 2017_int_base, which is an extremely narrow integer math performance. These are all projected numbers not real, plus AMD and Intel’s performance was artificially decreased as the Altra uses binaries compiled with GCC. So this isn’t the actual performance of AMD and Intel.
For the TDP, Altra claims 80 cores draw 180W of power, but according to reports, it may draw over 210W. It means that it has adjustable thermal performance configurations. A neat application in a server CPU as this feature usually seen in laptops CPUs. The CPU also features PM Pro and SM Pro controllers allowing server manageability, secure boot, power management/ temperature control, etc.
With 80-cores, it has less power draw than your 64-core EPYC 7742 processor, which helps data centers reduce their power usage. Ampere claims that the Altra will have core density per rack. Altra has a 38% higher core density than AMD EPYC 7702 and 173% higher than Intel Xeon Platinum 8276.
Ampere’s Altra will be available in late 2020 as it’s undergoing a sampling procedure. With the increased performance per watt and per rack, the Altra gives considerable advantages to the data centers reducing the cost. After release, it will slowly gain recognition and start competing for its spot in data centers. It’s up to the release date to see if Altra claims are right; it’s shaping a future for ARM-based servers.