Huawei bets big on big-data ARM server

Huawei is rolling the dice on server ARM for big data, with a CPU it claims beats the industry benchmark on performance, while slashing power consumption.

The Kunpeng 920, unveiled Monday, is a 7nm ARMv8-based server CPU that packs 64 ARM cores and eight-channel DDR4.

Huawei claimed the Kunpeng scored 930 in a SPECint benchmark, 25 per cent higher than the industry benchmark with a power efficiency 30 per cent greater than rivals.

The higher-level performance comes from optimising branch prediction algorithms, increasing the number of OP units and an improved memory subsystem architecture.

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Also announced by Huawei was a trio of TaiShean series servers that use the Kunpeng 920. The systems target storage, high density and load balancing.

ARM architectures have long dominated the devices market, primarily in smart phones thanks initially to Apple, but ARM on servers has failed to materialise despite promising talk from vendors.

Plans for ARM servers from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) several years largely came to nothing. Qualcomm wound down its global Centriq ARM-server push in December 2018.

Cloud giant AWS in November unveiled not one but two 64-bit ARM servers, Graviton. These will run on A1 instances and support Linux 2, RHEL and Ubuntu initially, the cloud giant said.

With Intel dominating the supply and established footprint, the odds would seem stacked against server-side ARM such as the Kunpeng 920 among end users. There may, however, be greater opportunity for services delivered via the cloud, with Huawei targeting hyper-scale providers pass on fast-throughput and greater efficiency rather than end users buying the boxes themselves, and of course developers working on and delivering through those platforms.

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