Qualcomm Centriq 2400 Arm-based Server Processor Begins Commercial Shipment

Subject: Processors | November 8, 2017 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, centriq 2400, centriq, arm

At an event in San Jose on Wednesday, Qualcomm and partners officially announced that its Centriq 2400 server processor based on the Arm-architecture was shipping to commercial clients. This launch is of note as it becomes the highest-profile and most partner-lauded Arm-based server CPU and platform to be released after years of buildup and excitement around several similar products. The Centriq is built specifically for enterprise cloud workloads with an emphasis on high core count and high throughput and will compete against Intel’s Xeon Scalable and AMD’s new EPYC platforms.

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Paul Jacobs shows Qualcomm Centriq to press and analysts

Built on the same 10nm process technology from Samsung that gave rise to the Snapdragon 835, the Centriq 2400 becomes the first server processor in that particular node. While Qualcomm and Samsung tout that as a significant selling point, on its own it doesn’t hold much value. Where it does come into play and impact the product position with the resulting power efficiency it brings to the table. Qualcomm claims that the Centriq 2400 will “offer exceptional performance-per-watt and performance-per dollar” compared to the competition server options.

The raw specifications and capabilities of the Centriq 2400 are impressive.

  Centriq 2460 Centriq 2452 Centriq 2434
Architecture ARMv8 (64-bit)
Core: Falkor
ARMv8 (64-bit)
Core: Falkor
ARMv8 (64-bit)
Core: Falkor
Process Tech 10nm (Samsung) 10nm (Samsung) 10nm (Samsung)
Socket ? ? ?
Cores/Threads 48/48 46/46 40/40
Base Clock 2.2 GHz 2.2 GHz 2.3 GHz
Max Clock 2.6 GHz 2.6 GHz 2.5 GHz
Memory Tech DDR4 DDR4 DDR4
Memory Speeds 2667 MHz
128 GB/s
2667 MHz
128 GB/s
2667 MHz
128 GB/s
Cache 24MB L2, split
60MB L3
23MB L2, split
57.5MB L3
20MB L2, split
50MB L3
PCIe 32 lanes PCIe 3.0 32 lanes PCIe 3.0 32 lanes PCIe 3.0
Graphics N/A N/A N/A
TDP 120W 120W 120W
MSRP $1995 $1383 $888

Built on 18 billion transistors a die area of just 398mm2, the SoC holds 48 high-performance 64-bit cores running at frequencies as high as 2.6 GHz. (Interestingly, this appears to be about the same peak clock rate of all the Snapdragon processor cores we have seen on consumer products.) The cores are interconnected by a bi-directional ring bus that is reminiscent of the integration Intel used on its Core processor family up until Skylake-SP was brought to market. The bus supports 250 GB/s of aggregate bandwidth and Qualcomm claims that this will alleviate any concern over congestion bottlenecks, even with the CPU cores under full load.

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The caching system provides 512KB of L2 cache for every pair of CPU cores, essentially organizing them into dual-core blocks. 60MB of L3 cache provides core-to-core communications and the cache is physically divided around the die for on-average faster access. A 6-channel DDR4 memory systems, with unknown peak frequency, supports a total of 768GB of capacity.

Connectivity is supplied with 32 lanes of PCIe 3.0 and up to 6 PCIe devices.

As you should expect, the Centriq 2400 supports the ARM TrustZone secure operating environment and hypervisors for virtualized environments. With this many cores on a single chip, it seems likely one of the key use cases for the server CPU.

Maybe most impressive is the power requirements of the Centriq 2400. It can offer this level of performance and connectivity with just 120 watts of power.

With a price of $1995 for the Centriq 2460, Qualcomm claims that it can offer “4X better performance per dollar and up to 45% better performance per watt versus Intel’s highest performance Skylake processor, the Intel Xeon Platinum 8180.” That’s no small claim. The 8180 is a 28-core/56-thread CPU with a peak frequency of 3.8 GHz and a TDP of 205 watts and a cost of $10,000 (not a typo).

Qualcomm had performance metrics from industry standard SPECint measurements, in both raw single thread configurations as well as performance per dollar and per watt. I will have more on the performance story of Centriq later this week.

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More important than simply showing hardware, Qualcomm and several partners on hand at the press event as well as many statements from important vendors like Alibaba, HPE, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung. Present to showcase applications running on the Arm-based server platforms was an impressive list of the key cloud services providers: Alibaba, LinkedIn, Cloudflare, American Megatrends Inc., Arm, Cadence Design Systems, Canonical, Chelsio Communications, Excelero, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Illumina, MariaDB, Mellanox, Microsoft Azure, MongoDB, Netronome, Packet, Red Hat, ScyllaDB, 6WIND, Samsung, Solarflare, Smartcore, SUSE, Uber, and Xilinx.

The Centriq 2400 series of SoC isn’t perfect for all general-purpose workloads and that is something we have understood from the outset of this venture by Arm and its partners to bring this architecture to the enterprise markets. Qualcomm states that its parts are designed for “highly threaded cloud native applications that are developed as micro-services and deployed for scale-out.” The result is a set of workloads that covers a lot of ground:

  • Web front end with HipHop Virtual Machine
  • NoSQL databases including MongoDB, Varnish, Scylladb
  • Cloud orchestration and automation including Kubernetes, Docker, metal-as-a-service
  • Data analytics including Apache Spark
  • Deep learning inference
  • Network function virtualization
  • Video and image processing acceleration
  • Multi-core electronic design automation
  • High throughput compute bioinformatics
  • Neural class networks
  • OpenStack Platform
  • Scaleout Server SAN with NVMe
  • Server-based network offload

I will be diving more into the architecture, system designs, and partner announcements later this week as I think the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 family will have a significant impact on the future of the enterprise server markets.

Source: Qualcomm

Podcast #474 - Optane 900P, Cord Cutting, 1070 Ti, and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2017 - 12:11 PM |
Tagged: Volta, video, podcast, PCI-e 4, nvidia, msi, Microsoft Andromeda, Memristors, Mali-D71, Intel Optane, gtx 1070 ti, cord cutting, arm, aegis 3, 8th generation core

PC Perspective Podcast #474 - 11/02/17

Join us for discussion on Optane 900P, Cord Cutting, 1070 Ti, 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, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano,

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:32:19

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:17:00 Ryan: Intel 900P Optane SSD
    2. 1:26:45 Allyn: Sony RX10 Mk IV. Pricey, but damn good.
  4. Closing/outro

Source:

ARM Introduces Mali-D71 Advanced Display Processor

Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2017 - 11:04 PM |
Tagged: MMU-600, Mali-G72, Mali-D71, Mali GPU, mali, Chi, Assertive Display 5, arm, AMBA

Not much can stand in the way of progress. This is particularly true in the mobile market. The competition is so fierce that we have seen yearly refreshes that push the feature and quality levels to new heights. Several years back we saw Apple release their high DPI displays and the rest of the industry followed. We have seen Android and iOS add new software features and capabilities into their products that have pushed the limits of the CPU and GPUs of these phones.  Now we are entering a new era with AR and VR capabilities in phones and it is only pushing the performance envelope of these handheld devices that may consume only a couple of watts at full power.

d71_overview.png

One area that has needed an upgrade for a while is in the display capabilities cooked into the latest ARM processors. The needs of upcoming phones to display 4K resolutions at 120 Hz for high end devices that can also support VR capabilities are great. Previously units have been limited to 4K/30 or in higher end phones 4K/60 capabilities. With VR being a push in mobile as well as other features that require high resolution displays and high refresh rates, it was imperative for ARM to update their technology on this front.

Previously known as “Cetus”, ARM is introducing the three different functional units that comprise their latest display technology.  The Mali-D71 is based on the new Komeda display architecture and it can handle the aforementioned 4K resolution at 120 Hz. The second portion is the MMU-600 which is a memory management unit which is tightly coupled with the D-71 to provide high bandwidth and low latency memory accesses to achieve that 4K/120 spec.  Finally the Assertive Display 5 unit helps the D-71 provide HDR support across a wide range of specifications.

d71_benefits.png

The new display processor is highly associated with the latest Mali GPU cores, but with enough work a 3rd party licensee could adapt it to another GPU architecture. This is obviously not the most efficient way of using this technology as it is regarded as a turnkey solution for the Mali GPU products. ARM has developed the software stack for both Andriod and Linux, and if needed it can develop Windows based drivers to fully leverage the features of this latest product. It is easily attached to 3rd party panel interfaces.

The D-71 is somewhat unique in that it adds a tremendous amount of features and speed, but is highly area efficient as compared to previous products. It takes up about half the size of the previous DP-650 unit, but because of the overall design and specialized hardware support in D-71 it features twice the pixel throughput at about 70% of the power consumption. This is an excellent example of inspired design overcoming previous generation limitations.

ad5_over.png

MMU-600 is a lynchpin in the operation as it provides advanced memory management which improves bandwidth and lowers latency dramatically as compared to the previous unit. It is tightly designed with the D71 and is highly optimized to work with the latest AMBA/CHI interconnect and Mali-G series of GPUs.

The final piece of this release is the Assertive Display 5 functionality. This provides extensive HDR support with a wide variety of panels. It is highly programmable and can provide HDR-like performance even to SDR displays. It has native HDR 10 and HLG support as well as converting HDR content to SDR. It implements blue light filtering in hardware as well as compensation for ambient light using the device sensors. ARM tries to ensure the best possible picture from the screen no matter the conditions.

cetus_all.png

The latest ARM display solution overcomes many of the limitations of the previous unit as well as adds a few new wrinkles with Assertive Display 5. It can provide top end VR and HDR experiences, as long as the GPU portion of the device can keep up with the needs of the software. ARM has removed a pretty significant hurdle to providing a rich visual experience with handheld devices.

Source: ARM

ARM Introduces PSA (Platform Security Architecture)

Subject: Processors | October 24, 2017 - 02:12 AM |
Tagged: arm, cortex, mali, PSA, security, TrustZone, Platform Security Architecture, amd, cortex-m, Armv8-m

It is no wonder that device security dominates news.  Every aspect of our lives is approaching always connected status.  Whether it is a major company forgetting to change a default password or an inexpensive connected webcam that is easily exploitable, security is now more important than ever.

arm_secure_01.PNG

ARM has a pretty good track record in providing solutions to their partners to enable a more secure computing experience in this online world.  Their first entry to address this was SecurCore which was introduced in 2000.  Later they released their TrustZone in 2003.  Eventually that technology made it into multiple products as well as being adopted by 3rd party chip manufacturers.

Today ARM is expanding the program with this PSA announcement.  Platform Security Architecture is a suite of technologies that encompasses software, firmware, and hardware.  ARM technology has been included in over 100 billion chips shipped since 1991.  ARM expects that another 100 billion will be shipped in the next four years.  To get a jump on the situation ARM is introducing this comprehensive security architecture to enable robust security features for products from the very low end IoT to the highest performing server chips featuring ARM designs.

arm_secure_02.PNG

PSA is not being rolled out in any single product today.  It is a multi-year journey for ARM and its partners and it can be considered a framework to provide enhanced security across a wide variety of products.  The first products to be introduced using this technology will be the Armv8-M class of processors.  Cortex-M processors with Trusted Firmware running on the Mbed OS will be the start of the program.  Eventually it will branch out into other areas, but ARM is focusing much of its energy on the IoT market and ensuring that there is a robust security component to what could eventually scale out to be a trillion connected products.

There are two new hardware components attached to PSA.  The first is the CryptoIsland 300 on-die security enclave.  It is essentially a second layer of hardware security beyond that of the original TrustZone.  The second is the SDC-600.  This is a secure debug port that can be enabled and disabled using certificates.  This cuts off a major avenue for security issues.  These technologies are integrated into the CPUs themselves and are not offered as a 3rd party chip.

arm_secure_hardware.PNG

If we truly are looking at 1 trillion connected devices over the next 10 years, security is no longer optional.  ARM is hoping to get ahead of this issue by being more proactive in developing these technologies and working with their partners to get them implemented.  This technology will evolve over time to include more and more products in the ARM portfolio and hopefully will be adopted by their many licensees.

 

Source: ARM

Podcast #452 - Computex Special

Subject: General Tech | June 1, 2017 - 12:33 PM |
Tagged: x299, WD, VROC, video, Vega, toshiba, Threadripper, snapdragon 835, ryzen mobile, qnap, podcast, nvidia, msi, max-q, Killer xTend, Intel, evga, Core i9, asus, asrock, arm, amd, agesa, a75, A55

PC Perspective Podcast #452 - 01/01/17

Join us for talk about Computex 2017 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison

Program length: 2:07:12
 
Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. Intel news
    2. AMD news
      1. 0:55:00 RX Vega pushed to end of July (SIGGRAPH), FE on June 27th
    3. NVIDIA news
    4. ARM news
    5. Storage news
    6. New notebooks
  3. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Author:
Manufacturer: ARM

ARM Refreshes All the Things

This past April ARM invited us to visit Cambridge, England so they could discuss with us their plans for the next year.  Quite a bit has changed for the company since our last ARM Tech Day in 2016.  They were acquired by SoftBank, but continue to essentially operate as their own company.  They now have access to more funds, are less risk averse, and have a greater ability to expand in the ever growing mobile and IOT marketplaces.

dynamiq_01.png

The ARM of today certainly is quite different than what we had known 10 years ago when we saw their technology used in the first iPhone.  The company back then had good technology, but a relatively small head count.  They kept pace with the industry, but were not nearly as aggressive as other chip companies in some areas.  Through the past 10 years they have grown not only in numbers, but in technologies that they have constantly expanded on.  The company became more PR savvy and communicated more effectively with the press and in the end their primary users.  Where once ARM would announce new products and not expect to see shipping products upwards of 3 years away, we are now seeing the company be much more aggressive with their designs and getting them out to their partners so that production ends up happening in months as compared to years.

Several days of meetings and presentations left us a bit overwhelmed by what ARM is bringing to market towards the end of 2017 and most likely beginning of 2018.  On the surface it appears that ARM has only done a refresh of the CPU and GPU products, but once we start looking at these products in the greater scheme and how they interact with DynamIQ we see that ARM has changed the mobile computing landscape dramatically.  This new computing concept allows greater performance, flexibility, and efficiency in designs.  Partners will have far more control over these licensed products to create more value and differentiation as compared to years past.

dynamiq_02.png

We have previously covered DynamIQ at PCPer this past March.  ARM wanted to seed that concept before they jumped into more discussions on their latest CPUs and GPUs.  Previous Cortex products cannot be used with DynamIQ.  To leverage that technology we must have new CPU designs.  In this article we are covering the Cortex-A55 and Cortex-A75.  These two new CPUs on the surface look more like a refresh, but when we dig in we see that some massive changes have been wrought throughout.  ARM has taken the concepts of the previous A53 and A73 and expanded upon them fairly dramatically, not only to work with DynamIQ but also by removing significant bottlenecks that have impeded theoretical performance.

Continue reading our overview of the new family of ARM CPUs and GPU!

Shrout Research: Chromebook Platform Impacts Android App Performance

Subject: Mobile | May 23, 2017 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: shrout research, play store, Intel, Chromebook, arm, Android

Please excuse the bit of self-promotion here. Oh, and disclaimer: Shrout Research and PC Perspective share management and ownership.

Based on testing done by Shrout Research and published in a paper this week, the introduction of Android applications on Chromebooks directly though the Play Store has added a new wrinkle into the platform selection decision. Android applications, unlike Chromebook native apps, have a heavy weight towards the Android phone and tablet ecosystem, with "defacto" optimization for the ARM-based processors and platforms that represent 98%+ of that market. As a result, there are some noticeable and noteworthy differences when running Android apps on Chromebooks powered by an ARM SoC and an Intel x86 SoC.

With that market dominance as common knowledge, all Android applications are developed targeting ARM hardware, for ARM processors. Compilers and performance profiling software has been built and perfected to improve the experience and efficiency of apps to run on ARMv7 (32-bit) and ARMv8 (64-bit) architectures. This brings to the consumer an improved overall experience, including better application compatibility and better performance.

Using a pair of Acer Chromebooks, the R11 based on the Intel Celeron N3060 and the R13 based on the MediaTek MT8173C, testing was done to compare the performance, loading times, and overall stability of various Android Play Store applications. A range of application categories were addressed including games, social, and productivity.

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Through 19 tested Android apps we found that the ARM-powered R13 Chromebook performed better than the Intel-powered R11 Chromebook in 9 of them. In 8 of the apps tested, both platforms performed equally well. In 2 of the test applications, the Intel-powered system performed better (Snapchat and Google Maps).

The paper also touches on power consumption, and between these two systems, the ARM-based MediaTek SoC was using 11.5% less power to accomplish the same tasks.

Our testing indicates the Acer R13, using the ARM-powered processor, uses 11.5% less power on average in our 150 minutes of use through our education simulation. This is a significant margin and would indicate that with two systems equally configured, one with the MediaTek ARM processor and another with the Intel Celeron processor, the ARM-powered platform would get 11.5% additional usage time before requiring a charge. Based on typical Chromebook battery life (11 hours), the ARM system would see an additional 75 minutes of usability.

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There is a lot more detail in the white paper on ShroutResearch.com, including a discussion about the impact that the addition of Android applications on Chromebooks might have for the market as whole:

...bringing a vast library of applications from the smart phone market to the Chromebook would create a combination of capabilities that would turn the computing spectrum sideways. This move alleviates the sustained notion that Chromebooks are connected-only devices and gives an instant collection of usable offline applications and tools to the market.

You can download the full white paper here.

Add an ARM to your cortex

Subject: General Tech | May 18, 2017 - 12:29 PM |
Tagged: cyborgs, arm

Researchers at the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering are working on a way you can truly have SoC on the brain, partnering with ARM to develop chips which can be implanted in the brain.  The goal is not to grant you a neural interface nor add a couple of petabytes to your long term memory but to help treat people suffering from paralysis due to stroke or other damage to the brain.  There is the small problem of heat, brain tissue will be much more susceptible to damage from implanted devices than an organ in the torso; a pacemaker has space in which to dissipate excess heat.  We are still a long way off but you can read up on the current state of the research by following the links at The Inquirer.

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"CHIP GIANT ARM is teaming up with US researchers on a project develop human brain implants aimed at helping paralysed patients as well as stroke and Alzheimer's patients."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

The $100 Pinebook; usable as a laptop?

Subject: General Tech | May 1, 2017 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: pinebook, arm, Cortex A53. ubuntu

Pinebooks are built around the same ARM Cortex A53 that the kickstarted Pine board utilized, but instead of being a Raspberry like board, it is a built to order laptop.  The 11.6" model is $89 and the 14" model will cost you $99.  The screen is 1366×768, it comes with a 640x480 camera as well as a pair of USB ports, audio, miniSD and miniHDMI connectors.  Hack a Day ordered one and found that in some ways this is still a work in progress as there are issues with some of the outputs which may soon be addressed in an update to the Ubuntu MATE 16.04 OS it runs.  Still a laptop for less than $100 is impressive and might be worth tinkering with, take a more detailed look here.

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"The Pine A64 was a 64-bit Quad-Core Single Board Computer which was kickstarted at the tail end of 2015 for delivery in the middle of 2016. Costing just $15, and hailed as a “Raspberry Pi killer,” the board raised $1.7 million from 36,000 backers. It shipped to its backers to almost universally poor reviews."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Hack a Day

PCPer Meetup in London! Sponsored by ARM! Win a FREE Chromebook!

Subject: General Tech | April 23, 2017 - 10:27 AM |
Tagged: meetup, london, giveaway, contest, Chromebook, arm

For a short romantic summer trip, Josh Walrath and I (Ryan Shrout) will be heading across the pond to London, England! With the primary goals of technology education and beer consumption, we thought it would be prudent to invite any and all PC Perspective fans in the area to join us for a night of talking tech, comparing beer preferences and just saying hello!

On Thursday April 27th starting 7:30pm, you will find Josh and me sitting in a dimly-lit booth at the Momentus Bar inside The Cumberland Hotel located at Great Cumberland Place London W1H 7DL. We have no specific agenda but will probably be there until at least midnight, hamming it up with anyone that walks over.

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Yes, it looks fancy, but you're talking to some fancy lads, right!?!

As if hanging with your favorite hosts of the PC Perspective Podcast wasn't enough, I was able to coherce our good friends at ARM to sponsor the event and handing us a couple of Chromebooks to give away as well! That's right - come meet Josh and me at The Cumberland Hotel and have a couple of drinks!

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On display at the event in London will be two ARM-powered Chromebooks: the Acer R13 and the new Samsung Chromebook Plus!

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The Samsung Chromebook Plus powered by ARM

The Samsung Chromebook Plus is powered by the OP processor...a curious part with an even more curious website: www.whatisop.com.

Even though only those in attendance will be able to get hands-on with the two Chromebooks, we are offering the giveaway of the units to our global fan base! All you have to do is enter via the Gleam competition below for your chance to take home one of these two devices!

ARM-powered Chromebook Giveaway!

So, here's the summary: if you are in the London area on April 27th and want to come hang out with Josh and me at Momentus Bar at The Cumberland Hotel, we would love to see you at 730pm! If you aren't in the London area on April 27th, enter the contest above for your chance to win an ARM-powered Chromebook!

PC Perspective London Meetup! Sponsored by ARM!

7:30pm - 12:00am on April 27th

Momentus Bar at The Cumberland Hotel

Great Cumberland Pl, Marylebone, London W1H 7DL, UK

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A HUGE THANKS to our friends at ARM for sponsoring these events and paying for Josh's excuse to drink! Hopefully we will see a lot of you in person very soon!