A new Arm-based CPU with 128 cores will send a shiver down spines at Intel and AMD

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Chinese bare metal and server hosting company Alibaba Cloud is preparing to trial a new instance type powered by custom Arm-based silicon.

The new Yitian 710 server processor, first unveiled in October, will underpin Elastic Compute Service (ECS) instances powered by a varying number of vCPUs, each of which will be tied to a physical core.

Under the preview program, which will last only two months and support just 100 customers, a single configuration will be available, with 4 vCPUs, 16GB memory and 3Gbit/sec network bandwidth.

Alibaba Cloud enters the ARM race

Alibaba’s Yitian 710 CPU is built on TSMC’s 5nm manufacturing process and boasts a staggering 128 cores and 60 billion transistors per die.

Based on Arm’s v9 architecture, the processor reaches speeds of up to 3.2GHz and supports up to eight DDR5 memory channels and 96 PCIe 5.0 lanes.

The developments at Alibaba Cloud will be monitored closely at Intel and AMD, neither of which will be pleased to see another cloud provider following in the footsteps of AWS with its own custom silicon.

According to Alibaba, its new Yitian-powered instances offer a “cost-effectiveness ratio” that’s twice as great as its previous-generation instances powered by chips from the US giants, although it’s not quite clear how this ratio is calculated.

The arrival of Yitian-powered instances also highlights the advance of Arm-based CPUs into the server market, which has typically been dominated by Intel’s x86 architecture. 

In conversation with TechRadar Pro at MWC 2022, Arm’s SVP of Infrastructure said the company expects to make significant headway in the server market in the coming years as its investments begin to bear fruit.

“Arm first talked about getting into servers 15 years ago and we’re only now beginning to see this vision come to fruition. In this industry, the investments are big and it takes time for these things to come through,” he said.

“But we’ve now started to come up with some very interesting attributes that set us apart. Arm-based solutions tend to have many more cores, which has allowed us to address the scale-out workloads on which a lot of cloud is built.”

Whether cloud providers choose to design their own Arm-based processors, à la AWS and Alibaba, or to purchase from a vendor like Ampere Computing doesn’t matter much to Arm. It’s about demonstrating Arm-based CPUs are capable of delivering the necessary performance for the broad range of workloads that have shifted to the cloud.

Via The Register 

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