Can a 12-Core ARM Cluster hit critical mass?

Subject: Processors | June 26, 2012 - 05:08 PM |
Tagged: arm, cortex-a9, e-350, i7-3770k, z530, Ivy Bridge, atom, Zacate

Taking a half dozen PandaBoard ESes from Texas Instruments that have a 1.2GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor onboard, Phoronix built a 12-core ARM machine to test out against AMD's E-350 APU as well as Intel's Atom Z530 and a Core i7 3770K.  Before you you make the assumption that the ARM's will be totally outclassed by any of these processors, Phoronix is testing performance per Watt and the ARM system uses a total of 31W when fully stressed and idles below 20W, which gives ARM a big lead on power consumption. 

Phoronix tested out these four systems and the results were rather surprising as it seems Intel's Ivy Bridge is a serious threat to ARM.  Not only did it provide more total processing power, its performance per Watt tended to beat ARM and more importantly to many, it is cheaper to build an i7-3770K system than it is to set up a 12-core ARM server.  The next generation of ARM chips have some serious competition.

Phoronix12ARM.jpg

"Last week I shared my plans to build a low-cost, 12-core, 30-watt ARMv7 cluster running Ubuntu Linux. The ARM cluster that is built around the PandaBoard ES development boards is now online and producing results... Quite surprising results actually for a low-power Cortex-A9 compute cluster. Results include performance-per-Watt comparisons to Intel Atom and Ivy Bridge processors along with AMD's Fusion APU."

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Source: Phoronix

AMD Releases Brazos 2.0, dual-core Bobcat for low power platforms

Subject: Processors | June 6, 2012 - 05:08 PM |
Tagged: Zacate, Hudson-M3L, FCH, E2-1800, E2-1200, computex, brazos 2.0, brazos, Bobcat, amd

 Today AMD is officially releasing their Brazos 2.0 parts. This is a case of good news/bad news for the company. The good news is that they have an updated product that is based on their very successful Brazos 1.0 platform and that particular part has sold over 30 million units and is included in some 160 designs. The bad news is that AMD did not improve the product dramatically over what we previously had.

b2_comp_chart.jpg

While Brazos will not beat these Intel offerings in pure performance, they do match up nicely in terms of price and battery life.

It is well known that AMD cancelled their original Bobcat 2.0 28 nm parts last fall (Krishna and Wichita), and instead worked on improving the fabrication of the current Brazos APUs. Little is known as to why those original 28 nm parts were cancelled, but perhaps the overriding reason is that there simply would not be enough 28 nm production through the first three quarters of 2012 to enable AMD to adequately meet demand on these parts (all the while sacrificing higher margin GPU wafer orders on the 28 nm node). We also must consider that AMD could have been counting on GLOBALFOUNDRIES to have their flavor of 28 nm HKMG process up and running, which of course at this time it is not.

These new Brazos 2.0 chips are still manufactured on TSMC’s 40 nm process, but that particular process is very mature at this time. This has allowed AMD and TSMC to squeeze every last drop of performance and efficiency out of the aging 40 nm node, and in so doing has allowed AMD a bit more headroom when it comes to the Zacate APUs that Brazos 2.0 is based off of. The two new processors are the E2-1800 and the E2-1200.

The E2-1800 is a dual core Bobcat CPU featuring an APU with 80 stream units based on the older HD 5000 series of parts. AMD has renamed the GPU to the HD 7340, though it has little in common with the GCN (Graphics Core Next) based HD 7000 graphics units. AMD increased the core CPU speed from the E-450 by 50 MHz and the GPU portion by 80 MHz. This gives the E2-1800 a core clockspeed of 1.7 GHz and the graphics runs at a brisk 680 MHz. This continues to be an 18 watt TDP part and the die size is the same 75 mm squared.

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Source: AMD