Tilera is unveiling its Tile-Gx 3000 family of chips aimed at the cloud computing server space, which has been dominated by Intel and AMD.
challenging Intel and Advanced Micro Devices in the increasingly competitive
market for cloud-based server processors, unveiling the Tile-Gx 3000 family of
chips that includes a 100-core model.
has been selling chips since 2007, unveiled the new family June 21, with
officials arguing that large Web-based companies with massive data centers are
demanding greater improvements in performance and energy efficiency than the
traditional x86-based vendors are offering.
"If you look
at the top-tier Websites, they have huge data centers, and what they get from
Intel and AMD is incremental improvements," Ihab Bishara, director of server
solutions at Tilera, said in an interview with eWEEK. "That is not enough."
these customers an "order of magnitude" of improvements, Bishara said.
Tilera is one
of a growing number of vendors looking to address the demands of these
businesses that are looking for fast, smaller servers that are highly
energy-efficient to populate very dense data centers. Both Intel and AMD are
driving down the power consumption of and increasing the core counts in their
processors. Intel offers Xeons with up to 10 cores, and AMD's Opterons have up
to 12 cores, with the 16-core "Interlagos" chip on schedule for release in the
host of smaller vendors also are looking to muscle their way into the cloud-computing
server arena. Executives with ARM Holdings, which designs low-power chips that
are found in most mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, want to push
their way up the ladder and into the data center. The company last year
unveiled its Cortex-A15 design, which includes such key data center features as
support for virtualization and greater memory capacity.
A number of
chip manufacturers that base their products on ARM designs-including Marvell
Technologies, Calxeda and Nvidia-are looking to challenge Intel
and AMD in servers. In addition, others are looking to other low-power
platforms. For example, SeaMicro is using Intel's low-power Atom chips to
run its servers, including the new SM10000-64, which runs on Intel's dual-core
Atom N570 processor. In an interview in February, SeaMicro founder and CEO
Andrew Feldman said his company is keeping an eye on the growing number of chip
makers looking to bring new low-power processors to market. However, no other
platform offers the benefits that Atom does, Feldman said at the time.
Bishara would argue that. The Tile-Gx 3000 chips offers 10 times the
performance-per-watt capabilities of Intel's "Sandy Bridge" Xeon chips, greater
reduction of total system power and footprint, and a 50 percent reduction in
TCO for customers, he said.
All that is
key for companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon, which are
building huge data centers to run their Web-based businesses, Bishara said.
Many are looking for ways to cut both their capital and operating expenses, and
are not afraid to consider new technologies and products.
about reducing costs," he said.
chips run at 1 to 1.5GHz and offer cores that consume less than 0.5 watts. Each
core includes 32KB of Level 1 cache and 256KB of L2 cache. They also share up
to 32 megabytes of L3 cache, Bishara said. The chips are organized in a highly
parallelized mesh fashion with a large number of interconnects between the
One of the
challenges non-x86 chip vendors face in the data center is that most data
center software is optimized for the x86 code. However, Bishara said the Tilera
chips can run the LAMP (Linux OS, Apache Web server, MySQL database and
PERL/Python) Linux software stack, and that Linux represents about 20 percent
of the servers being used by Web-based cloud businesses.
The new chip
family offers three models, he said. A single 36-core Gx3036 can replace a
single-socket eight-core Sandy Bridge server, while a 64-core Gx3064 system can
replace a dual-socket eight-core Sandy Bridge system, according to Tilera. The
100-core Gx3100 can replace a quad-socket eight-core Sandy Bridge server. The
36-core chip will be available in the third quarter; the 64- and 100-core chips
will be out in the first quarter of 2012.
he doesn't expect Tilera to overtake Intel in worldwide chip sales, but said
the company will challenge the larger rival in the 20 percent of the server
market aimed at large cloud installations.
has had some success. Tilera officials in January announced $45 million in funding from the likes of Cisco
Systems and Samsung-bringing total investment in the company to $109
million-and in May unveiled its Tile-Gx 8000 series of many-core chips for the
networking market. Tilera is focusing its efforts on three areas: networking,
multimedia and cloud-computing servers.