ARM speeds data flow in the cloud with new, zippy interconnects

With smartphones and sensors putting more demand on servers and other back-end gear, chip design company ARM is introducing new interconnect technologies that will help shuttle the data around more quickly.

The new CoreLink interconnects will be added to ARM’s Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 processor designs, which chip makers license to build 64-bit chipsets for servers, set-top boxes and base stations for cellular networks.

The widespread use of smartphones and tablets, combined with sensors used in the Internet of Things, means more and more bits need to moved into the data center, and between computers inside the data center, said Nandan Nadampally, vice president of marketing at the CPU Group at ARM.

Services like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, which send many of their queries over mobile networks for processing, add to the data workload, as do social network posts and a myriad of other mobile applications.

The new CoreLink Interconnects, called the CCN-512 and CCN-502, organize traffic so that data moves in and out of devices in a faster, more energy-efficient way than its current processor designs.

The CCN-512 is the faster of the two and intended for large server deployments, Nadampally said. It enables transfers speeds of up to 1.8Tbps (bits per second), and is compatible with multiple network, storage and memory controller technologies. It opens the door to attaching GPUs and other co-processors that may be faster than CPUs at certain tasks. The CCN-502 is geared more toward devices like set-top boxes and network gateways, which consume less power.

The interconnects support various network fabrics, which shuttle data between components such as processors and memory, as well as in and out of servers, storage systems and other appliances. AMD, for example, has its Freedom Fabric to connect chips and servers, and it now be able to plug into the CCN-512 layer through specific controllers.

The new interfaces aren’t intended for mobile devices, which don’t need that level of throughput and have tighter power constraints, Nadampally said. Rather, they’re for carrying the traffic produced by those devices when it reaches base stations and servers.

ARM’s interconnect for mobile devices is the CoreLink CCI-400, already used in many of the latest smartphones and tablets.

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