Ampere launches 192-core AmpereOne server processor

The AmpereOnes promise two to three times the power savings over x86 with two to three times the cores.

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Ampere has announced it has begun shipping its next-generation AmpereOne processor, a server chip with up to 192 cores and special instructions aimed at AI processing.

It is also the first generation of chips from the company using homegrown cores rather than cores licensed from Arm. Among the features of these new cores is support for bfloat16, the popular instruction set used in AI training and inferencing.

“AI is a big piece [of the processor] because you need more compute power,” said Jeff Wittich, chief products officer for Ampere. ”AI inferencing is one of the big workloads that is driving the need for more and more compute, whether it’s in your big hyperscale data centers or the need for more compute performance out at the edge.”

The company claims AmpereOne is two to three times more power efficient than Intel and AMD server processors. Wittich said customers buying products from Ampere are struggling to build out more capacity because they lack access to additional power or the ability to add new data centers. “So at the end of the day, all compute capacity in the cloud is constrained by the amount of available power. And so we need to deliver more compute in the same footprint,” he said.

AmpereOne uses a chiplet design to break up the CPU into multiple chips rather than one monolithic piece of silicon. They are linked together by a mesh connecting the cores that acts as a ”sophisticated traffic cop,” as Wittich put it. It foresees where bottlenecks might occur and routes traffic to prevent them.

All those cores might lead to contention for shared resources like memory or the system-level cache. So AmpereOne has a quality-of-service enforcement feature that  restricts the amount of memory bandwidth that a specific processor user is taking up. Or it can prioritize a specific process to ensure it gets ample memory bandwidth.

AmpereOne also supports nested virtualization, which runs VMs inside VMs—something customers asked for, Wittich said.

While the Ampere line of processors is primarily aimed at cloud service providers, Wittich said enterprise customers use it for cloud infrastructure within their data centers running platform as a service and containerized apps.

AmpereOne CPUs are shipping today, manufactured by TSMC and built on a 5nm process. Wittich said cloud providers and OEM licensees using the processors will make announcements about it when they are ready to launch their services or platforms.


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