UPDATED 16:19 EDT / APRIL 08 2013

Applied Micro Takes Aim at Intel, AMD with ARM-Based X-Gene

Mike Major, VP of Corporate Marketing, Applied Micro joined theCube hosts John Furrier, Founder, SiliconANGLE and Dave Vellante, Chief Analyst, Wikibon, to talk more about HP’s recently unveiled Moonshot announcement, and their partnership.  Last week Applied Micro announced the first 64-bit, ARM-based chip. In Layman’s Terms, it mimics the entire server rack on one chip. This puts Applied Micro chip’s in direct competition with Intel and AMD.

The ‘X-Gene’ server on a chip, Applied Micro positions it as the first 64-bit-capable ARM-based server in existence. It’s ‘programable’ silicon. Major says that Applied Micro got its architecture license from ARM (the first to do so years ago) in large part to do exactly this. Applied Micro wants to compete in the server space, and it focuses on the high-performance sector.

The phrase of the moment for describing this technology is ‘bringing cell phone and tablet technology to servers’.  While most will agree that the cloud is where all of this technology is going, Major reminds us that the cloud isn’t new, “It already exists,” he says, and there has been some scale-up and growth in the cloud for years.

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Here are the specs on the chip:

  • 40 nanometers
  • 8 2.4 GHz ARM cores
  • 4 ARM Cortex A5 cores running the SDN controller software
  • 4 10-gigabit ethernet ports
  • Various other ports that can support more Ethernet, SSDs, accelerator cards

It’s the first chip to contain a software-defined network (SDN) controller on the die. That is a pretty big game changer for a chip that will offer network services, such as load balancing, and ensuring service-level agreements. All of these specs I have described really play well into the needs of Big Data. And here is the kicker: Applied Micro molded this at real world cloud workloads. Power savings will be on the order of 50 percent. Major summed it up as, “High level performance and reliability at a cost savings.”

Apparently there are some notable fans of this announcement too. Chief Technology Officer Amr Awadallah, Ph.D., Cloudera is really excited about it. Bigger, faster, better has now become smaller, faster, better. Marketing departments everywhere, take notice. Server-side innovation is a first step in software-defined data centers.


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