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AMD ready to build custom 64-bit ARM processors for servers

Advanced Micro Devices yet has to commercially ship its first ARMv8-based system-on-chip for servers code-named Seattle. Nonetheless, the company already says that it is ready to develop semi-custom server-class SoCs for servers based on the 64-bit ARMv8 architecture. The company already offers customized Opteron chips powered by its x86 cores.

AMD’ Opteron 1100 “Seattle” server processor packs up to eight ARM Cortex-A57 64-bit general-purpose cores, 4MB shared L2 cache and 8MB shared L3 cache. In addition, the chip features server-class dual-channel memory controller that supports up to 128GB of DDR3 or DDR4 ECC memory, extensive integrated I/O, including eight PCI Express 3.0 lanes, two 10Gb/s Ethernet ports, Freedom fabric and eight Serial ATA-3.0 ports. The SoC also carries a set of offload engines for better power efficiency and reduced CPU loading, including server caliber encryption, and compression.

While the forthcoming “Seattle” chips are already very advanced and are designed to power new-generation cloud/hyperscale servers, AMD could also integrate customer-specific intellectual property into such processors to meet certain demands.

“There are more and more of those applications that are showing up in big data centers,” said Sean White, an engineer at Advanced Micro Devices, during a presentation at the Hot Chips conference in Cupertino, California, reports Computerworld. “They do not want traditional high-end… database type workloads. If you want to customize an SoC to exactly what you want, or to put on a piece of your [intellectual property]… you can do that in here.”


At present AMD offers customized Opteron chips with industry-standard ingredients. AMD’s arch-rival Intel does the same, but recently it said it could build-in special-purpose hardware required by customers as well.

AMD did not say whether it already has semi-custom SoC clients in the server space. At present the company’s biggest semi-custom clients are Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp., whose latest game consoles rely on specially-designed AMD Fusion system-on-chips.

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KitGuru Says: Keeping in mind that the world’s largest server customers, such as Amazon Web Services, Google, Facebook and some others, are looking forward to design their own microprocessors, it is highly likely that for Intel and AMD semi-custom chips designed-to-order will become significant parts of their businesses since they are not interested in losing major clients and therefore will offer them appropriate SoCs.

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