Ampere Altra, the Cloud is ARM’ed Too

x86 may not be the dominant enterprise option soon.

We know that the ARM architecture is known for its power efficiency and performance over the traditional x86 architecture so much so that even Amazon Web Services offers instances via the Gavitron EC2 instances but that won’t be your only choice with a new player entering the game with the Ampere Altra series of processors.

That last line was a bit inaccurate, the Ampere Altra is more of a platform that would be used by the cloud giants to offer via their cloud offerings. Also, the Ampere name has no association with Nvidia which might be confusing to some.

The Altra uses ARM’s Neoverse N1 enterprise core the same as the Amazon Gavitron EC2 instances but in a much higher 80 core arrangement.

With configurations from 32 cores to 80 cores, up to 3.30 GHz with TDP up to 250 watts. The processor supports 8 channels of DDR4-3200mhz ECC memory at 2 DIMMS per channel, and up to 4TiB of memory per socket.

Each CPU offers 128 PCIe 4.0 lanes, 32 can be used for socket-to-socket communications implemented via the CCIX protocol over PCIe. This allows for 50 GB/s in each direction. In the two-socket configuration 192 PCIe, 4.0 lanes will be available for add-in card in cards with each lane offering Bifurcation down to x2. 64lanes of the 256 will be dedicated to socket-to-socket communication.

160 cores per racks seem interesting from the point of commercial applications like 3D rendering and other graphics acceleration applications.

Ampere 1st Gen Altra (TSMC 7 NM)

SKUCoresFrequencyTDPPCIeDDR4
Q80-33803.3 GHz250 W128x G48 x 3200
Q80-30803.0 GHz210 W128x G48 x 3200
Q80-26802.6 GHz175 W128x G48 x 3200
Q80-23802.3 GHz150 W128x G48 x 3200
Q72-30723.0 GHz195 W128x G48 x 3200
Q64-33643.3 GHz220 W128x G48 x 3200
Q64-30643.0 GHz180 W128x G48 x 3200
Q64-26642.6 GHz125 W128x G48 x 3200
Q64-24642.4 GHz95 W128x G48 x 3200
Q48-22482.2 GHz85 W128x G48 x 3200
Q32-17*321.7 GHz58 W128x G48 x 3200
Q32-17321.7 GHz45 W128x G48 x 3200

Having a look at the entry-level SKU the Q32-17 it shows us the scalability of ARM with 32 cores at 45 watts, we know that Apples M1 is at a similar wattage admittedly for a different market, but this clearly shows that the architecture has massive potential for growth in the next decade.

Now, 80 cores enough for most but here at AdoredTV, we like more cores and the Altra did not disappoint with the Altra max. The company is set to launch a 128 core SKU of the Altra slated for 2021 which we will cover in a future post.

We wrote here on the future of ARM, and the Ampere Altra is just the beginning. X86 has another nail in the coffin and with rumors of AMD testing ARM processors in their labs we see another massive transition coming to a more mobile future.

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