Ampere Computing has introduced the next generation of its Arm-based server processors and said it has begun sampling the chip for select customers.
Former Intel president Rene James launched Ampere in 2018, and so far the company has released two processors aimed at cloud data centers: the 80-core Ampere Altra and the 128-core Ampere Altra Max. These processors used cores licensed from Arm Holdings. But now, with the new AmphereOne chip, Ampere has created customized versions of Arm’s processor cores to better tailor them to customer needs.
James introduced AmpereOne during a video update posted on the company’s website. She said the new chip supports DDR5 and PCI 5.0 and is built on 5 million process nodes, but she did not go into more detail.
“We are excited about the initial feedback and the performance our customers are experiencing with our latest Ampere cloud processor,” said James. “You’ll hear more about AmpereOne’s performance, number of cores and other exciting features as we move forward into the year … Ampere continues to move forward in our annual rhythm of products as we are committed each year.”
Hand-based server chips have been hit or missed so far. There have been notable failures, such as Applied Micro, Broadcom, Cavium / Marvell, Qualcomm, Samsung, AMD and Calxeda. There are also notable success stories: Fujitsu with the Fugaku supercomputer, AWS with its home Graviton series, and Nvidia with the Grace processor (provided it hasn’t come out yet, but who’s betting on Nvidia?).
Ampere has achieved some major victories among cloud providers, including Oracle Cloud, Equinix Metal, Tencent Cloud and Baidu. In addition, Microsoft recently announced a public pre-screening of Azure virtual machines running on the Ampere Altra processor.
Oracle, as it turns out, has become a significant supporter of Ampere. It began with an investment of $ 46 million in 2017, and its investment has so far accumulated to more than $ 426 million, according to numerous SEC documents.
Why is Oracle investing so much in a startup? Kevin Cruel, chief analyst at Tirias Research, has a theory. “From my point of view, Oracle wanted an alternative to Amazon Graviton. The company stopped developing Sun SPARC, so there was no alternative to x86. Ampere gives Oracle an alternative, ”he told me.
And certainly its Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) service offers Ampere-based instances, and for quite cheap, only $ 0.01 per hour. So Oracle has a competitor to AWS Graviton’s Arm.
All in all, James said there are more than 40 server platforms supporting the Ampere Altra family of processors (both 80-core and 128-core versions), and seven of the world’s largest hyperscalers are deploying processors in their data centers.
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