As expected, chip maker AMD is launching its first processor based on ARM technology. And as expected, it’s aimed at servers rather than smartphones, tablets, set-top-boxes, or the other places you usually find ARM chips.

That said, for a first entry, the AMD Opteron A1100 Series is no joke. It’s one of the first 64-bit chips to be based on ARM’s Cortex-A57 design, and it will be available in quad-core and 8-core versions. AMD expects to ship samples this quarter and launch the chip more widely later this year.

AMD Opteran A developer board

The 28nm, 2 GHz chips are designed to for servers with up to 2 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports, 8 Serial ATA ports, 8 lanes of PCI-Express Gen 3 i/o, and DDR3 or DDR4 memory.

AMD’s development kit is a micro-ATX system with support for up to 128GB of DDR3 memory and support for a Linux environment based on Fedora.

AMD suggests the new chip will outperform some of its existing low-power x86 server chips while offering cost savings over competing Intel solutions.

While the chip maker’s first venture into the ARM processors is aimed squarely at the server space, the company now has the know-how (and licensing agreements) to work on ARM-based chips. Eventually we could see AMD offer ARM processors for consumer devices.

The company has long played second fiddle to Intel in the notebook and desktop chip space, and offering low-power, ARM chips could be a way to compete with Intel’s low-power Atom chips. AMD’s own low-power x86 processors tend to offer decent graphics performance, but lower all-around performance than Intel’s offerings.

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13 replies on “AMD’s first ARM chip is a 64-bit, 8-core doozy (aimed at servers)”

  1. Too bad it’s an ATX form factor. If it was Mini ITX, I’d buy one for the computer I’m using right now and put Debian or Ubuntu on it.

  2. We use AMDs in the data-center because they’re cheap bang for your bucks. Those opterons are great for Hypervisor and VPS. I love ARM like the next guy but in order for this to succeed, they’ll need to figure out ARM virtualization. I can load up 30 little linux servers on a 6 core opteron server with 32-64GB of RAM. If I can’t do that with ARM (now), there is no point. The major players like OpenStack, Citrix Xen, VMWare, RedHat need to make hypervisors for ARM.

  3. hmm, hopefully these sort of super ARM systems jumpstart the “home server” market that WHS was too early on.

  4. I welcome anything that helps ensure AMD’s long term viability. AMD is a vital counter to Intel’s hegemony.

    1. For now, we can’t compare just because i can buy an Asrock C2750 (Avoton 8 cores) motherboard today at my local shop but nothing with Opteron A1100. And i suspect it won’t be this year. And i would add that they will have to be compared with the next iteration of Atom Server parts scheduled for Q4 which will be based on Intel’s all new 14nm process.

  5. I’m hoping this will eventually mean ARM based desktops, more open drivers etc etc but for now I’ll settle for that evaluation board if it isn’t too expensive and has some standard outputs.

    1. It’s a server board so it will be expensive. Also, you might need to get a separate video card for video output. The pics of the board I saw only had serial and Ethernet ports .

  6. AMD is taking a calculated risk with these ARM chips. They believe the server market will embrace ARM processors for a wide range of server types. I hope they are right. I also hope to see consumer products built around these chips. I hope AMD can move from 28nm to 22nm in the future.

    1. AMD is tied to the same manufacturers as the ARM device makers use, and so it’ll be either 20nm, 16nm half node, or 14nm next for them…

      22nm, 14nm, 10nm, 7nm, and 5nm is Intel’s road map…

      While the use of Finfets won’t start until those other manufacturers actually hit either the 16nm half node or 14nm FABs… So they’re behind on the manufacturing technology as well as the FAB size…

      These first gen 64bit offerings are also still pretty limited, AMD is only promising performance to rival their own Jaguar cores that we see used in Temash and Kabini SoCs… So these are only for low power usage scenarios and not anything very high performance…

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