AMD Unveils Details of First AMD-Based Server SoCs
The Seattle chips will be aimed at smaller servers—including AMD's own SeaMicro systems—many of which are found in cloud and Web hosting environments running massive numbers of smaller workloads. AMD will begin sampling the Seattle SoCs in the first quarter of 2014. Some top-tier server makers are beginning to design systems that run on ARM chips, looking to meet the growing demands from organizations like Facebook and Google, who run huge data centers and see density and energy efficiency as keys. Hewlett-Packard and Dell already are working with ARM chip providers. Intel is looking to its x86-based low-power Atom platform to push back at AMD and other ARM-based server chip makers in the microserver space. Intel already has its "Centerton" SoC on the market, and its upcoming "Avoton" SoC will offer greater performance and power efficiency when it comes to market later this year. Intel officials have argued that Atom gives programmers a familiar x86 development environment and tools, and noted that by the time the first 64-bit ARM chips come out next year, Intel already will be on the second generation of its microserver processors. AMD's Feldman said the ecosystem that has cropped up around ARM's designs has fueled faster innovation than in the x86 space.AMD also is taking steps to make programming between x86 and ARM easier. For example, it helped found the Heterogeneous System Architecture Foundation, whose goal is to create a standards-based ecosystem that will ease the porting of applications across multiple architectures. Even as they begin to lay out plans for their Seattle chips, AMD officials are not abandoning x86. Berlin, which will be released in the first half of 2014, will be available as either a CPU or an accelerated processing unit (APU), with integrated graphics. The chip's four cores will be based on the upcoming "Steamroller" architecture that officials said will offer eight times the gigaflops-per-watt performance of the vendor's current Opteron 6386SE chip. It also will be the first APU built on AMD's Heterogeneous System Architecture, which will give it uniform memory access for the CPU and GPU. In the first quarter next year, AMD will release Warsaw for two- and four-socket servers. The chips will targeted at traditional enterprise workloads.
"[Server] customers are eager to see the vibrant ecosystem they've seen on the client side," he said.