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Thread: Huawei launches a 7nm-based ARM server chip to fight Intel on the Data Center

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    Huawei launches a 7nm-based ARM server chip to fight Intel on the Data Center

    This is, in my opinion, a bigger threat to Intel's DC business than Power, Ampere, Cavium, etc. The chinese government is certainly going to back Huawei big time and this could be a game changer in a few years, especially with TSMC doing so well.

    It surely takes much more than a fast processor to win DC business, so not an immediate threat.


    Huawei currently has the second fastest mobile ARM SoC (Kirin 980) after Apple. Sure, a mobile processor and a server processor are very different beasts, but I believe they will have enough backing from Chinese government which certainly wants alternatives to American silicon.

    Huawei Unveils Industry's Highest-Performance ARM-based CPU - Huawei

    What do you think?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mbello View Post
    This is, in my opinion, a bigger threat to Intel's DC business than Power, Ampere, Cavium, etc. The chinese government is certainly going to back Huawei big time and this could be a game changer in a few years, especially with TSMC doing so well.

    It surely takes much more than a fast processor to win DC business, so not an immediate threat.


    Huawei currently has the second fastest mobile ARM SoC (Kirin 980) after Apple. Sure, a mobile processor and a server processor are very different beasts, but I believe they will have enough backing from Chinese government which certainly wants alternatives to American silicon.

    Huawei Unveils Industry's Highest-Performance ARM-based CPU - Huawei

    What do you think?
    Many many ARM based server chips have been launched over that last ten years to no avail. Huawei has a chance in the China market for sure, China wants control over their server chips, absolutely. But in the rest of world I don't see much opportunity. The server chip ecosystem really is daunting which is why Intel still rules the cloud.

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    Now available in print or Kindle: "Mobile Unleashed: The Origin and Evolution of ARM Processors In Our Devices"

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    China's cloud is more of a pure born-in-the-cloud play, less legacy business. Legacy enterprise moving to the cloud has driven the cloud boom the past few years outside of China which is why the data centers over there are still small compared to the USA or Europe, even for the local players which dominate. Going down the ARM route may work well inside China and a few other similar markets but is not great leverage for jumping beyond the borders.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Nenni View Post
    Many many ARM based server chips have been launched over that last ten years to no avail. Huawei has a chance in the China market for sure, China wants control over their server chips, absolutely. But in the rest of world I don't see much opportunity. The server chip ecosystem really is daunting which is why Intel still rules the cloud.
    Yes there was lot of attempts with ARM-based server chips but most of them failed because they were just repurposed mobile processors. They took CPU core ARM was selling to mobile phone designers, they putted lot of them into single silicon but there was problem that microarchitecture was not built for server use and it did not scale. So they failed.

    But today it is different. ARM is developing IP directly aimed for server deployment. Plus they have process advantage so there is already processor(s) which offer performance comparable to Intel x86 while maintaining 2x better power efficiency.

    Plus something bit questionable... They don't have estabilished ecosystem which means they can be more flexible in different areas. They can modify ISA. They can add memory channels or switch to different memory type. They can add new interfaces... This is something Intel can't offer. Intel can't change ISA since they want to preserve "x86 fortress". Intel processors are tied to 6-channel DDR4 memory platform (for now) even trough AVX512 processors need higher bandwidth. This is not case with ARM. ARM is first to offer PCIe4. They will be probably first at DDR5/6 or HBM if needed. Or open-capi, Nvlink... This might be deciding factor in some cases.

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    Yes, there is ARM Neoverse now to help boost ARM on DC and edge equipment.
    Daniel is right that all ARM server chips up until now were a failure. But they all came from companies that could not sustain the high and long term investment necessary to create a viable product for the DC market and that includes a player as large as Qualcomm.

    Now Huawei has the full backing of the Chinese government and its Made in China 2025 program. And Huawei is not actually going to sell this chip, they will instead build an entire cloud with it and sell its services. This is the fastest way to scale and to learn and evolve the product. It requires a huge amount of money, and they will likely bleed billions of dollars doing so. But if this is really part of 2025 program, it is the only way to go for them, otherwise they would have 1st gen product with no buyer.

    And I bet if Huawei opens its DCs in the US with low enough prices it could gain significant market share.

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    None of the restrictions on memory channel or power efficiency constrain AMD. They already have 8 channels of DDR4 and they are building on TSMC process.

    Google has been working on the model of a custom machine with effectively a custom ISA (OpenPower) and tricks like nVidia integration. If it is working it must be a long play because Google has become a distant 3rd in the data center business for thrid parties. You have to listen to your customers.

    China certainly has the possibility to nurture unique, advanced, and large businesses in its home market. Whether these will translate to the west, or even to India (another large market which Huawei is pouring money into) remains to be seen. Certainly worth keeping an eye on. But I think the real muscle they will use is tons of cheap capital and a lot of patience, not an ISA.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mbello View Post
    Yes, there is ARM Neoverse now to help boost ARM on DC and edge equipment.
    Daniel is right that all ARM server chips up until now were a failure. But they all came from companies that could not sustain the high and long term investment necessary to create a viable product for the DC market and that includes a player as large as Qualcomm.
    Apart from Calxeda (which ran out of money before they could move to proper 64-bit servers), which Arm server was a failure? X-Gene and Vulcan are alive and well. ThunderX2 is used in several supercomputers. CloudFlare made clear they are still planning to move to Arm, although it's not clear that will be Centriq, its successor or some other Arm server. Amazon has their own Arm servers live in the cloud already. It's a healthy and growing ecosystem, not at all a failure.

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    Huawei Kunpeng920 is designed not to compete with Intel, but for their own use. The Arm-based server processor,along with 3 Taishan server models powered by the CPU, will be deployed in Huawei Cloud first, and then maybe expand to Enterprise Datacenters. Huawei's own cloud service may be not as famous as Alibaba and Tencent, but they catch up quickly, especially its OceanConnect IoT platform. The primary usage of the chip will be Arm-native applications.

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