As a general rule most smartphones have ARM-based processors and most desktop and notebook PCs have Intel or AMD chips based on x86 architecture (although that’s starting to change with the launch of Windows on ARM).

But now Gigabyte and Cavium are introducing the first desktop workstation powered by an ARM-based processor.

The Gigabyte ThunderXStation is a tower PC designed to work with Cavium’s ThunderX2 ARMv8 processors, which are typically used for servers and cloud computing appliances.

Workstation PCs are typically high-performance (and high-cost) machine, and the ThunderXStation definitely seems to fit the bill.

The first version to ship will come with a 2.2 GHz, 32-core CPU with 4 threads per core for a total of 128 threads. It also comes with an NVIDIA GeForce 710 GPU with dual monitor support, but Gigabyte says it’s also testing other NVIDIA and AMD GPUs.

The computer supports DDR4-2133/2400/2666 memory and it can use up to 8 DIMMs per CPU.

Other features include:

  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2 PCIe Gen 3.0 slots per CPU
  • 2 NVMe PCIe Gen 3.0 x4 ports
  • 2 SATA IIZI on-board connectors
  • 2 U.2 or SATA III 2.5″ drive bays
  • 4 USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 RS-232 port
  • VGA

The ThunderXStation will ship with Ubuntu 17.10 but it also supports CentOS 7.4 and OpenSUSE.

It’s available for purchase from Phoenix Electronics for “competitive” pricing, which means you’ll need to contact Phoenix to get a quote.

via Cavium

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19 replies on “Gigabyte ThunderXStation is the first ARMv8 workstation PC”

  1. I think the “first ARMv8 workstation” title went to the SoftIron OverDrive 1000 two years ago. Nevertheless, I’m happy that there’s more options available, and I’m looking forward to some benchmarks of the system.

    EDIT: The original press release says “Industry’s first Armv8 Workstation based on Cavium’s ThunderX2 Processor” which is specific enough to be correct.

  2. I wonder what the power consumption is while idle and under various types of loads. I assume it’s lower than comparable Xeons.

    Whenever I see ARM outside of phones, I think “must be a pain to get running”. From my understanding these server oriented ARM processors from Qualcomm and Centriq have a more standardized boot/initialization process like with x86. So do people not need to rely on (non-maintained) images from vendors anymore? Can I download ARM server ISOs for CentOS, Ubuntu and OpenSUSE from their respective sites and do a fresh install?

  3. “NVIDIA GeForce 710 GPU with dual monitor support”

    Holy smokes, two whole monitors?! The cutting-edge, modern hardware on this server will bring Intel and IBM to their knees!

    1. This isn’t a toy. It’s a server workstation. If you want more display space, you can have as much as you like through a remote desktop connection. Heck, even a raspberry pi will support 4K through x2go.

  4. I wonder how well it would do vs intel and AMD. We need benchmarks for gaming on this

    1. Totally different architecture. There are no games for the platform. Even the linux-compatible games on Steam would have to be rewritten and recompiled for this hardware. This is anything but a gaming rig.

      1. You don’t need games to run benchmarks for cpu and gpu performance.. But the UWP games are architecture agnostic.

        1. UWP games a waste of resources, as general rule. There is some exceptions, though, but they’re just ports from x86 PC games, and most of them – old enough x86 PC games.
          You will not find there Forza 7 as UWP, BF1, Overwatch, whatsever you like.
          There are lof of UWP Majongs, but they do not require 32 cores CPU.

          1. So…….are you saying Forza 7 isnt a UWP game?? What about gears of war 4, tombraider, sea of thieves??

            What aboot Final Fantasy XV?? Are you implying its not a UWP??

          2. Indeed he is mistaken, Forza 7 is UWP. However, Microsoft exclusive games are the exception for the most part. Most developers typically opt for the Steam option. And no, UWP is not always platform agnostic either. Most AAA games, including Microsoft’s own games, typically build their UWP’s ONLY for Intel/AMD x64 architecture. No support for 32-bit or ARM. And finally, Steam versions of games have been shown to perform better than their UWP counterparts. UWP just has too much overhead compared to a native Win32 desktop application. That’s probably why most devs avoid UWP. Limited audience, worse performance. Game publishers and developers want to make money. It’s cheaper and more cost effective to build the game once for Win32 and distribute it on Steam making the game available from Windows 7 all the way through Windows 10, rather than just locking it to one OS or spending extra money and resources to port to UWP just for Windows 10.

  5. I wonder how good this would as a video editing rig? Certainly looks interesting. Let’s hope these kind of machines have a <£1000 price tag…

    1. My experience is video encoding scales quite well but not perfectly. Newer encoders are worse at scaling too. This meant that back when I was converting to h.265 using x265 I would have been better served by 8 faster cores than the 16 slower ones I had. That might have changed by now, x264 scaled well probably due to the sheer amount of development time it’s had.

    2. These ARM server CPUs are competing against Intel Xeons. Xeon CPUs alone can cost more than £1000. I can see Qualcomm and Cavium selling them for cheaper but not that much cheaper.

    3. It would be nice if there were professional software for the platform. Like an AVID port would make a lot of sense.

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