AnandTech – Applied Micros X-Gene: The First ARMv8 SoC

While everyone was focusing on the ARM v.7 (current generatation) chip architecture, APM has been focused on the 64bit ARM v.8 which promises to herald a new era of low power with Server level features. By estimates made in the article APM has a 1 year lead on any other current licensees of ARM designs. And with any luck they will be sampling products that meet their performance targets in March of 2012 (albeit in FPGA eval form) Read On:

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APM expects that even with a late 2012 launch it will have a 1 – 2 year lead on the competition. If it can get the X-Gene out on time, hitting power and clock targets both very difficult goals, the headstart will be tangible. Note that by the end of 2012 well only just begin to see the first Cortex A15 implementations. ARMv8 based competitors will likey be a full year out, at least. 

via AnandTech – Applied Micros X-Gene: The First ARMv8 SoC.

Chip Diagram for the ARM version 8 as implemented by APM

It’s nice to get a confirmation of the production time lines for the Cortex A15 and the next generation ARM version 8 architecture. So don’t expect to see shipping chips, much less finished product using those chips well into 2013 or even later. As for the 4 core ARM A15, finished product will not appear until well into 2012. This means if Intel is able to scramble, they have time to further refine their Atom chips to reach the power level and Thermal Design Point (TDP) for the competing ARM version 8 architecture. What seems to be the goal is to jam in more cores per CPU socket than is currently done on the Intel architecture (up to almost 32 in on of the graphics presented with the article).

The target we are talking about is 2W per core @ 3Ghz, and it is going to be a hard, hard target to hit for any chip designer or manufacturer. One can only hope that TMSC can help APM get a finished chip out the door on it’s finest ruling chip production lines (although an update to the article indicates it will ship on 40nm to get it out the door quicker). The finer the ruling of signal lines on the chip the lower the TDP, and the higher they can run the clock rate. If ARM version 8 can accomplish their goal of 2W per cpu core @ 3 Gigahertz, I think everyone will be astounded. And if this same chip can be sampled at the earliest prototypes stages by a current ARM Server manufacturer say, like Calxeda or even SeaMicro then hopefully we can get benchmarks to show what kind of performance can be expected from the ARM v.8  architecture and instruction set. These will be interesting times.

Intel Atom CPU Z520, 1,333GHz
Image via Wikipedia

Author: carpetbomberz

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