Though Qualcomm had announced that it would enter the server market about a year ago, there hadn’t been much news from the computer giant about it since then. Of course, this was until the recent unveiling of its all-new ARM server CPU. And as expected, the company has really pulled out quite a sensation with the 24-core chip that is expected to become a new trendsetter in the computer support market.
What makes Qualcomm’s CPU so special?
Unlike other competitors, Qualcomm has stayed away from focusing on a specific market segment. Their model packs far more CPUs per core than any other contemporary unit. While there have been no details divulged yet, we can be sure that this is going to be markedly different from the Snapdragon model. The processor has been codenamed Hydra and it seems that the company is looking to roll as many as 64 cores into a single stack. The only specification that has been confirmed is the on-die integration of the PCIe and storage controllers.
The size of the chip is also something that needs to be taken into account. 24 or (64) cores are a lot to pack into a single chip and this could lead to a large increase in the total area. While it would be smaller than Intel’s on a per core basis, the point is that fitting in so many cores into a practical size is going to be a challenge. With Intel’s Xeon processors, a lot of care is taken to ensure that all cores have equal latency. This also helps with keeping the cache contention to a minimum. So Qualcomm will also have to pay equal attention to all these smaller details to ensure healthy competition. But the very fact that they are making such high tech processors shows that Qualcomm is targeting only the biggest clients like Facebook or Google.
Is Qualcomm poised to provide good competition to Intel?
Though there are many companies vying for the top ARM processor spot, few of them offer any real threat to Intel. Of course, this could change with the entry of the computer support giant Qualcomm. The biggest advantage for Qualcomm is that it has the ready capital to ensure a stiff fight. Now one big question is if companies will be willing to make the shift to an ARM processor from the x86 based ones that have been in vogue for years now. The bigger companies will not have much of a problem as they write their own software and have their own tools. So moving to ARM will still be an internal change and they can afford to do it. However the smaller firms might not feel the need to shift to another system while the current one is working well for them. There will be a need for stability and uptime that could make it difficult for these vendors to make the switch.
Whatever be the case, it is quite obvious that Qualcomm is entering the data centre market with a definite plan. But the question is if the buyers will view its product in a favourable manner. At any rate, it is going to be an exciting new development.
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