Arm is working to increase its share of the enterprise high-performance computing (HPC) and data center markets, reports DigiTimes Research.
The British-based chip design company currently dominates the mobile processor architecture field, representing 90 percent of the sector. However, the firm only has a minimal presence in the server CPU segment. Analyst Frank Kung asserts it seeks to grow its business in the field by winning contracts from hyperscale online service providers and semiconductor manufacturers.
Kung also argued that Arm’s best way forward involves it becoming a subsidiary of Nvidia.
Arm’s HPC and Data Center Strategy
Arm’s strategy to expand within the HPC and data center sectors is pretty simple; it hopes to overtake its rivals by offering a more cost-effective product.
Currently, Intel is a leading provider in the space, with an estimated market share of 94 percent. The corporation secured its place at the top of the mountain with its well-regarded x86 instruction sets and server hardware. As an integrated design manufacturer, it has the ability to align its software and hardware development.
Arm, a fabless vendor that licenses its intellectual property to other companies, is mounting its challenge on the coding front. It aims to create chip blueprints that offer best-in-class performance per watt. That means firms could save money on their electricity costs by using products based on their work without losing any competition of power.
In 2019, Arm threw its hat in the ring by introducing its Neoverse lineup. Electronic Design hailed the performance quality and comparatively low energy consumption level of its N1 and E1 cores at launch. The publication also highlighted how the component’s multithread functionality could boost throughput for high-performance data center switches.
In addition, Amazon, a world-leading infrastructure and platform-as-a-service provider, has started using Arm architecture to make their own server chips. In the past, the Big Tech giant acquired general-purpose offerings to power its cloud data centers. But the conglomerate found it could make more cost-effective hardware using specialized third-party designs.
Late last year, reports emerged Microsoft decided to follow Amazon’s lead and make custom Azure chips with Arm blueprints.
DigiTimes Research noted Arm intends to build on those successes by capturing 10 percent of the server CPU market.
A Giant Leap Forward
Though it is well-positioned for success, the British design house has to overcome a few obstacles before achieving its goal.
First, Intel has no intention of letting any of its rivals grab on its HPC or data center market share. The firm’s ubiquity within the sector has made its x86 instruction sets industry standard. Chipmakers and service providers are aware of its position and would understandably hesitate to move away from familiar frameworks.
Second, Arm faces formidable competition in the segment outside of the market leader.
AMD has made significant progress in the social presence in the server CPU segment recently. In Q4 2020, it made $1.28 billion, up 176 percent year-over-year, by selling semi-custom and EPYC data center processors. Since it releases a new generation of TSMC-fabricated cloud computing products this year, its presence in the space will become even bigger.
The RISC-V open-standard project also presents a challenge. Alibaba, a multinational tech giant, utilized the simple but powerful architecture to create a component to power its cloud services. The corporation found its hardware outperformed items made by Huawei’s chip design unit.
Nevertheless, DigiTimes Research believes Arm can make a giant leap forward in the server processor after merging with Nvidia. The firm posited it could combine its extensive CPU knowledge with its corporate parent’s GPU resources to create groundbreaking artificial intelligence-driven HPC and data center products.
Because a tie-up between Arm and Nvidia will reshape the semiconductor industry, the transaction will face significant regulatory scrutiny. But if the deal goes through, the combined business could create some revolutionary computing hardware.