Ampere announced that it has begun providing samples of the Ampere Altra processor for modern cloud and edge computing datacenters. The Ampere Altra processor runs on 210 watts and is targeted at such server applications as data analytics, artificial intelligence, database, storage, telco stacks, edge computing, web hosting, and cloud-native applications. Intel dominates about 95.5 percent of the server chip market with its x86-based processors, and AMD has the rest.
Each CPU core contains two 128-bit SIMD units, which is rather less throughput than an equivalent AMD or Intel CPU would offer. INT8 and FP16 workloads are supported for machine learning support and the Altra is reportedly a 4-wide design with a 3GHz turbo frequency. SMT is not implemented; each core is single-threaded. An 80-core Altra is an 80C/80T system, compared with AMD’s maximum of 64C/128T per socket. TDP is stated to be 210W for the 80-core part.
Ampere is targeting power-efficient, high-performance, and high-memory capacity features. Renee James, former president of Intel and now CEO of Ampere, said in an interview with VentureBeat that the chip is faster than a 64-core AMD Epyc processor and Intel's 28-core high-end Xeon "Cascade Lake" chip.
“We’ve got the most cores in the market. It’s now in the hands of some of the industry’s largest cloud providers”, James said. “We are very happy where this came out. I think people will be surprised. There is always something that comes next. And if it doesn’t come from the incumbent, it comes from the disruptor. It’s exciting to be working on what I think is next.”
Altra is making some significant estimated performance claims, arguing that its 80-core chip will outperform an Epyc 7742 and heavily outperform the Xeon Platinum 8280. The new Intel Xeon Gold 6258R would be expected to replace the Platinum 8280 in this comparison, given that it’s vastly cheaper and offers identical performance.
To make its figures fit, Ampere chose to de-rate the Epyc and Intel platforms to account for compiler differences. Essentially, this means Ampere lowered the expected performance of the AMD and Intel platforms by 16.5 per cent and 24 per cent.