AWS Developing Powerful Data Centre Chip – Report

Amazon Web Services has designed a second generation data centre processor that is said to be more powerful, with at least a 20 percent performance increase over the first generation chip.

The new processor builds on the foundation laid down by the first data centre processor, named Graviton from AWS, which was released in November 2018.

Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the new processor will also use technology from British chip designer ARM Holdings (now owned by Softbank).

Second generation

The first Graviton chip had not been intended to compete with general-purpose server chips, such as those made by Intel, on raw processing performance.

Instead, the cloud infrastructure giant said it could reduce costs by up to 45 percent, compared with other Amazon EC2 general purpose instances, for scale-out workloads.

Such workloads include containerised microservices and web-tier applications that don’t require the x86 instruction set, AWS said back in 2018.

For such workloads, the new ARM chip offers lower cost without compromising performance, it said at the time.

But there is little doubt that the second generation AWS chip will lessen the Amazon unit’s reliance on Intel and Advanced Micro Devices for server chips.

An Amazon spokesman declined to comment on future products or services to Reuters.

ARM likewise declined to comment.

More cores

Both sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the new chip is not expected to be as powerful as Intel’s “Cascade Lake” or AMD’s “Rome” chips.

But although less powerful, ARM processors are cheaper and consume less electricity than Intel’s top-end chips. Intel’s most powerful chips can cost several thousand dollars, while barebones ARM-based server chips can cost less than $1,000, Reuters reported.

Amazon’s first Graviton chip used ARM’s older Cortex A72 technology. The forthcoming Amazon chip is expected to use newer ARM technology, most likely ARM’s Neoverse N1 technology, one of the sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Another source familiar with the matter said the chip is expected to have at least 32 cores versus the Graviton’s 16.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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