Several years ago, at a local event detailing a new Arm microarchitecture core, I recall a conversation I had with a number of executives at the time: the goal was to get Arm into 25% of servers by 2020. A lofty goal, which hasn’t quite been reached, however after the initial run of Arm-based server designs the market is starting to hit its stride with Arm’s N1 core for data-centers getting its first outings. Out of those announcing an N1-based SoC, Ampere is leading the pack with a new 80-core design aimed at cloud providers and hyperscalers. The new Altra family of products is aiming to offer competitive performance, performance per watt, and scalability up to 210 W and tons of IO, for any enterprise positioning.
The Arm Server Market: 2010-2019 (Abridged)
We’ve seen companies such as Broadcom/Cavium/Marvell, Calxeda, Huawei, Fujitsu, Phytium, Annapurna/Amazon, AppliedMicro/Ampere, and even AMD put Arm-based IP into silicon and subsequently into the server market. Up until recently, most designs have been fairly lackluster – with companies either developing their own core on an Arm architecture license and not getting a performance lift, or using the standard Arm cores and not finding the right mix of performance, power, and software uptake needed to drive home the design. As a result, we’ve seen multiple companies fall by the wayside, be acquired, or limit their activities to specific customers and keep very hush-hush.