Arm announces free Cortex-M processor designs for use with Xilinx FPGAs

Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2018 - 12:03 AM |
Tagged: Xilinx, RISC-V, FPGA, cortex-m3, cortex-m1, cortex-m, arm

Today, at the Xilinx Developer Forum event in San Jose, Arm has announced an expansion of their DesignStart program to offer Cortex M-series capabilities to customers of Xilinx FPGAs.

Arm DesignStart is a program which allows smaller customers to gain quick access to Arm IP. Developers can access the full Cortex-M0, Cortex-M3, and subsystem RTL designs for evaluation and integration into their products.

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If a customer decides to utilize this IP in a commercialized product, they are then subject to a success-based royalty model. This is a similar business model that we've seen 3D game engines like Unreal Engine and Unity move to, where the development tools are free, but the engine holders are paid a percentage of unit sales.

Today's announcement in conjunction with Xilinx, removes the royalty requirement traditionally associated with DesignStart. Developers will gain access to Arm Cortex-M1, an optimized version of Cortex-M0 specifically for usage in FPGAs, Cortex-M3 soft processor IP, as well as software toolchain improvements. Arm IP has been integrated into the Xilinx Vivado Design Suite, allowing for "drag and drop" integration of Arm Cortex-M processors and Xilinx FPGAs.

At a time when the competition in the embedded space is stronger than ever from the likes of the RISC-V foundation, this could be an excellent opportunity for Arm to attract new customers to their ecosystem. As high-speed data processing becomes the norm, the pairing of application-optimized FPGA and general purpose Microprocessors should become common in the data center and beyond.

Stay tuned from more news this week at the Xilinx Developer Forum!

Source: Arm

Ampere Starts Shipping ARM-Based 16 and 32-Core eMAG Processors for Data Center

Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2018 - 10:48 AM |
Tagged: Ampere, arm, armv8-a, datacenter, ddr4

Ampere recently announced the availability of its first ARM-based server processor dubbed eMAG. The new chips use 16 or 32 custom CPU cores built upon the X-Gene 3 (once pioneered by Applied Micro) compatible with the 64-bit ARMv8-A instruction set. Ampere, in partnership with Lenovo (and several smaller unspecified ODMs), has started shipping eMAG to its customers and partners. Current eMAG processors are based on TSMC 16nm FinFET+ and Ampere plans to move future eMAG processors to TSMC’s 7nm node while adding support for multi-socket servers as soon as next year.

Ampere eMAG.jpg

Ampere’s eMAG processors are designed for the datacenter with big data computing workloads in mind that benefit from large amounts of memory and cores including big data analytics, web serving, and in-memory databases. The new ARM server CPU entrant is designed to compete with the likes of Intel’s Xeon and AMD’s EPYC X86-64 processors as well as other ARM-based offerings from Cavium and Qualcomm. Early reports suggest that eMAG is no slouch in performance, but where it really excels is in price to performance, performance per core per dollar, and total cost of ownership metrics.

Today’s eMAG processors feature either 16 or 32 custom ARM cores clocked at 3.0 GHz base and up to 3.3 GHz turbo with 32KB I-cache, 32KB D-cache (L1) per core, 256KB L2 cache which is shared between two paired cores, and a global shared 32MB L3 cache. There are eight DDR4 memory controllers (up to 1TB DDR4-2667 using 16 DIMMs for up to 170.7 GB/s memory bandwidth) as well as 42 lanes of PCI-E 3.0 I/O. The CPU cores, cache, and controllers are connected using a switch that is part of a coherent fabric. Additional I/O support includes four SATA 3 and two USB 2.0 along with 10GbE. The eMAG processors have a 125W TDP.

Perhaps most interesting is the pricing which Ampere has set at a rather aggressive $550 for the 16-core chip and $850 for the 32-core processor. The Ampere chips are interesting especially following Qualcomm’s seeming loss of interest in this space as it dialed back its Centriq efforts earlier this year. With a new ARM entrant that reduces the datacenter barrier to entry for workloads that need lots of acceptable performance cores paired with lots of memory and AMD’s renewed datacenter push on all fronts, Intel is going to have its work cut out for it when it comes to maintaining its datacenter dominance. At the very least it may shake up server CPU pricing. Further, perhaps beyond its intended use, these ARM-based offerings may also introduce some new server platforms that are accessible to enthusiast virtual lab-ers and small HPC developers (small shops, universities, etc) that can use lower cost systems like these for testing and research into developing highly parallelized code that will eventually be run on higher end servers in the “hyperscale” data center.

I am curious to see if the eMAG will live up to its performance claims and expectations of competing with the big players in this space. According to ExtremeTech, Ampere claims the 32-core eMAG is able to match the Intel Xeon Gold 6130 (16 core / 32 thread, 2.1-3.7 GHz, 22MB L3, and 125W TDP) in SPEC CINT2006 benchmarks. The company further claimed earlier this year that eMAG would offer up to 90% performance per dollar versus Xeon Silver and 40% higher performance per dollar compared to Xeon Gold processors from Intel.

What are your thoughts on eMAG and ARM in the server space?

Related Reading:

Source: Ampere

That's a big ARM you've got there Mr. Ampere

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2018 - 12:42 PM |
Tagged: Ampere Computing, arm, Ampere

Ampere Computing have been busy developing an impressive ARM processor, which they talked to The Register about today.  The new Ampere is a 3.3GHz 32-core 64-bit Armv8 CPU fabbed on TSMC's 16nm FinFETs.  It can address up to 1TB of DDR4-2667 and sports 42 PCIe 3.0 lanes, all on a single socket with the next generation adding multiple socket support once it is fabbed on 7nm TSMC FinFET.   This is not your normal ARM processor and its 125W power draw is more in line with an AMD or Intel server processor. 

There are no benchmarks but there is quite a bit of detail to go through in the article, including confirmation that they have addressed the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. 

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"Carlyle Group-backed Ampere Computing, run by ex-Intel president Renée James, says it is, at last, shipping its 64-bit Arm-compatible server processor."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Huawei Announces Kirin 980: Is the World's First 7nm SoC Passing Snapdragon?

Subject: Processors, Mobile | September 2, 2018 - 11:45 AM |
Tagged: SoC, octa-core, mobile, Mali-G76, Kirin, Huawei, HiSilicon, gpu, cpu, Cortex-A76, arm, 8-core

Huawei has introduced their subsidiary HiSilicon’s newest mobile processor in the Kirin 980, which, along with Huawei's claim of the world's first commercial 7nm SoC, is the first SoC to use Arm Cortex A76 CPU cores and Arm’s Mali G76 GPU.

KIRIN_980.PNG

Image credit: The Verge

Huawei is aiming squarely at Qualcomm with this announcement, claiming better performance than a Snapdragon 845 during the presentation. One of its primary differences to the current Snapdragon is the composition of the Kirin 980’s eight CPU cores, notable as the usual 'big.LITTLE' Arm CPU core configuration for an octa-core design gives way to a revised organization with three groups, as illustrated by AnandTech here:

K980.png

Image credit: AnandTech

Of the four Cortex A76 cores just two are clocked up to maximize performance with certain applications such as gaming (and, likely, benchmarks) at 2.60 GHz, and the other two are used more generally as more efficient performance cores at 1.92 GHz. The remaining four A55 cores operate at 1.80 GHz, and are used for lower-performance tasks. A full breakdown of the CPU core configuration as well as slides from the event are available at AnandTech.

Huawei claims that the improved CPU in the Kirin 980 results in "75 percent more powerful and 58 percent more efficient compared to their previous generation" (the Kirin 970). This claim translates into what Huawei claims to be 37% better performance and 32% greater efficiency than Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845.

980_SD.jpg

Image credit: AnandTech

The GPU also gets a much-needed lift this year from Arm's latest GPU, the Mali-G76, which features "new, wider execution engines with double the number of lanes" and "provides dramatic uplifts in both performance and efficiency for complex graphics and Machine Learning (ML) workloads", according to Arm.

mali_g76.jpg

Image credit: AnandTech

Real-world testing with shipping handsets is needed to verify Huawei's performance claims, of course. In fact, the results shown by Huawei at the presentation carry a this disclaimer, sourced from today’s press release:

"The specifications of Kirin 980 does not represent the specifications of the phone using this chip. All data and benchmark results are based on internal testing. Results may vary in different environments."

The upcoming Mate 20 from Huawei will be powered by this new Kirin 980 - and could very well provide results consistent with the full potential of the new chip - and that is set for an official launch on October 16.

The full press release is available after the break.

Source: AnandTech

Podcast #510 - NVIDIA 2080 Launch, blockchain gaming, and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 23, 2018 - 03:54 PM |
Tagged: Volta, video, turing, Threadripper, rtx, podcast, nzxt, nvidia, logitech, arm, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #510 - 08/23/18

Join us this week for discussion on NVIDIA 2080 Launch, blockchain gaming, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:24:43

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Picks of the Week:
    1. 1:14:15 Jeremy: I love 14cm fans!
  4. Closing/outro
 
 
Source:
Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: ARM

Aggressively Pursuing New Markets

ARM has had a pretty fascinating history, but for most of its time on this Earth it has not been a very public facing company. After the release of the iPhone and ARM’s dominance in the mobile market, they decided to push their PR efforts up a few notches. Now we finally were able to see some of the inner workings of a company that was once a little known low power CPU designer that licensed cores out to third parties.

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The company was not always as aggressive as what we are seeing now. The mobile space for a long time was dominated by multiple architectures that all have eventually faded away. ARM held steady with design improvements and good customer relations that ensured that they would continue into the future. After the release of the original iPhone, the world changed. Happily for us, ARM changed as well. In previous years ARM would announce products, but they would be at least three years away and few people took notice of what they were up to. I originally started paying attention to ARM as I thought that their cores might have the ability to power mobile gaming and perhaps be integrated into future consoles so that there would be a unified architecture that these providers could lean upon. This was back when the 3DS and PSP were still selling millions of units.

This of course never came to pass as I had expected it to, but at least ARM did make it into the Nintendo Switch. ARM worked hard to quickly put faster, more efficient parts out the door. They also went on a buying spree and acquired several graphics startups that would eventually contribute to the now quite formidable Mali GPU family of products. Today we have an extensive lineup of parts that can be bundled into a tremendous amount of configurations. ARM has a virtual monopoly in the cellphone market because they have been willing to work with anyone who wants to license their designs, technologies, and architectures. This is actually a relatively healthy “monopoly” because the partners do the work to mix and match features to provide unique products to the marketplace. Architectural licensees like Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung all differentiate their products as well and provide direct competition to the ARM designed cores that are licensed to other players.

arm_road_02.JPG

Today we are seeing a new direction from ARM that has never been officially explored. We have been given a roadmap of the next two generations of products from the company that are intended to compete in not only the cellphone market, but also in the laptop market. ARM has thrown down the gauntlet and their sights are set on Intel and AMD. Not only is ARM showing us the codenames for these products, but also the relative performance.

Click here to read the entire ARM Roadmap Editorial!

Spectre 3a and Spectre 4 Unfortunately Announced...

Subject: Processors | May 22, 2018 - 07:51 PM |
Tagged: x86, arm, Intel, amd, spectre

Security researchers at Microsoft and Google have found two new vulnerabilities along the lines of the Spectre and Meltdown bugs from early January. These are being called Spectre 3a (Rogue System Register Read) and Spectre 4 (Speculative Store Bypass). Like last time, hardware and software vendors have addressed the issues, which will be coming down via OS updates.

bond-2018-spectre-joke.jpg

Naturally, James Bond will steal information when there's Intel Inside.

On the AMD side of things, they claim that the Spectre 4 vulnerability will be patched as far back as Bulldozer (2011). They also claim that no action will be necessary, at least to their knowledge, for Spectre 3a on their x86 parts. They have also released a short, five-page whitepaper discussing the issue.

On the Intel side of things… a security bulletin has been posted for CPUs as far back as Nehalem. They don’t exactly clarify which processors are susceptible to which vulnerabilities, but they acknowledge that both Spectre 3a and Spectre 4 touch something on their product stack to some extent. They have submitted a beta microcode update to OS vendors, which they expect to be production ready “in the coming weeks”.

ARM is also affected to some extent. They have published a table that lists which architectures are vulnerable to what exploit. Interestingly, there are some processors that are vulnerable to 3a, but not 4, and others that are vulnerable to 4, but not 3a (and, of course, some that are vulnerable to both and neither). Since these exploits are based on optimizations gone awry, you would think that it would have built up over time, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The only pattern I could notice is that Variant 4 only affects newish 64-bit ARM processors. I don’t know if that’s a red herring, or a well-known corollary of the bug that I just don’t know enough about, but it’s about all that I can see.

Regardless, expect patches soon, which might, again, lower performance by some amount.

Podcast #499 - Onyx Boox, BitFenix, and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 10, 2018 - 04:35 PM |
Tagged: podcast, velocity micro, qualcomm, Portal, Onyx Boox, nvidia, Netflix, microsoft, linux, K63, Intel, hyperx, google, evga, corsair, coolermaster, ChromeOS, bitfenix, arm, amd, 4k, video

PC Perspective Podcast #499 - 05/10/18

Join us this week for discussion on Onyx Boox, a slick BitFenix case, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Ken Addison,

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:01:13

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Picks of the Week:
    1. 0:47:40 Jeremy:Building a Ryzen on a budget eh?
    2. 0:50:10 Josh:I have issues.   We know
    3. 0:52:20 Allyn: System monitoring Gadgets. On Windows 10. Good ones.
  4. Closing/outro
 
Source:

Podcast #498 - Microsoft Surface Book 2, Intel 905P Optane, and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 3, 2018 - 09:19 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, video, surface, podcast, Oculus, Nocutua, microsoft, kaby lake-x, Jim Keller, Intel, coolermaster, arm

PC Perspective Podcast #498 - 05/03/18

Join us this week for discussion on Microsoft Surface Book 2, Intel 905P Optane, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:31:26

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. Casper
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Picks of the Week:
    1. 1:21:20 Ryan: Oculus Go
    2. 1:22:20 Jeremy: Great deal on a B350
    3. 1:26:25 Allyn: Got a Vive? Buy a Gear VR cheap! (and do some modding with these)
  5. Closing/outro
 
Source:

ARM Introduces Physical Security to Cortex-M Line

Subject: General Tech | May 2, 2018 - 11:00 AM |
Tagged: voltage, physical attacks, exploits, EM, CryptoIsland, CryptoCell, Cortex-M35P, cortex, arm

 

The world is rife with exploits. We see and hear about them everyday. It is a major problem for device makers that try to use cutting edge technology in their products, but do not know what potential vulnerabilities can be exposed. ARM has a robust security suite available for their chips that can be licensed and implemented, but so far these have dealt primarily with software. Nothing has been done in consumer chips to protect from other side-channel exploits in which the chip is physically accessed.

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Physical security was once the realm of military style hardware that were hardened and designed to be nearly impervious if falling into the wrong hands. Now ARM is offering partners the ability to implement several physical security features into their chips to help defeat those who wish to exploit these products.

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The first product to get this treatment is the new Cortex-M35P. This is based on previously released Cortex-M3x technology featuring the Armv8-M ISA. It is a new chip in that it has all of the features for physical security integrated into the design. It also features all of the previous security IP that ARM has released including TrustZone, CryptoIsland, and CryptoCell.

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Physcial attacks can come through a variety of ways. Monitoring voltage and EM from the chip is the least invasive, while physically accessing the device and exposing the core down to the transistor level obviously destroys the chip but gives the attacker a lot of information about the chip. The former attacks can be done by people with varying levels of experience and commonly acquired tools. The latter attack requires a tremendous amount of knowledge as well as require high end equipment not normally found outside of chip design and fabrication firms. ARM cannot protect against dissecting the part, but they can help protect against the more non-invasive exploits.

arm_ps04.jpg

EM and voltage monitoring can give clues about potential sideband exploits that would work with the chip. The attacker records these measurements when the chip is doing work such as encryption. This then can lead to more specific attacks on the chip. ARM is able to design countermeasures on these chips to either limit EM output or to “dirty” the output so that it reveals little about the operation of the chip. ARM is able to do much the same when it comes to voltage tampering.

arm_ps05.jpg

ARM did not go into any significant detail on the actual mechanisms of these security features. All we know is that these are features designed into the chip from the beginning and cannot be applied retroactively to previous chips. This makes sense due to these being physical attacks, and if ARM detailed the countermeasures, then the attackers can more easily work around them.

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Security is a process. One fix will not create a totally locked-down world. It takes a pretty extensive infrastructure to address all of the threats that are likely to be encountered by IoT devices throughout the world. Adding to the physical IP with security measures allows ARM and its clients to be that little bit more confident that they are exposing their users to the least amount of risk possible when it comes to exploiting these products.

Source: ARM