An upcoming version of Windows 10 for PCs is expected to support ARM-based chips, starting with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor. Now it looks like Microsoft is also working with Qualcomm to bring ARM support to its Windows Server operating system.
The companies have announced a collaboration that will result in Microsoft using Qualcomm’s Centriq 2400 server solutions in its own data centers.
The Centriq 2400 is a 10nm ARMv8 processor designed for servers, and Qualcomm’s first Centriq-based product supports up to 48 CPU cores.
Qualcomm isn’t the first company to produce ARM-based chips for servers. But previous solutions haven’t been widely adopted and while they could support Linux-based server operating systems, they could not run Windows.
The entry of a major chip maker like Qualcomm into the space could increase the popularity of ARM chips in data centers. While ARM processors tend to be more energy efficient than x86 chips from companies like Intel and AMD, it’s not clear that will be the case for solutions that bundle 48 CPU cores into a single server.
I wonder how much efficiency for ARM processors will be lost emulating x86. I guess MS is also wondering that, and ready to find out
They wouldn’t have announced a partnership without already having a pretty good idea.
As Qualcomm tries to sell their server products, Intel will just lower their prices. I can’t see Qualcomm making a profit in servers SOCs. If they consume their own servers then they could save money, but no clear path to profitability.
“The entry of a major chip maker like Qualcomm into the space could increase the popularity of ARM chips …” Probably an ARM competitor with acceptable perf/W/$ would help more. But none have shown up just yet. If ARM server chips couldn’t gain share on linux, I don’t think Windows support will change anything.
I knew there was a reason I sold my Intel stock. New pressure from AMD and server competition from Qualcomm. Intel is not going away any time soon but they may have to tighten their belts a bit now.
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