At Arm TechCon 2018, the company is announcing a new brand targeted at the infrastructure market. Arm Neoverse is the company’s attempt to put together current and future IP blocks to enable tomorrow’s infrastructure. As one may expect, many Arm partners are lined up to back the Neoverse brand. Since this is a brand that will find its way to servers, we wanted to cover it on day 1.
Arm Neoverse Overview
In terms of coverage, the company sees the Arm Neoverse covering products that serve as everything from primary CPUs in the data center to edge compute and storage devices.
Arm’s vision is that the company’s Cortex brand will remain for devices like mobile phones and tablets. For the back-end communications networking and data center plays, the company sees the Arm Neoverse being the brand behind billions of devices.
We are going to cover this announcement a bit more in the piece, but aside from the new brand, the company is also announcing a new roadmap and ecosystem support for the Neoverse.
During the pre-briefing with Arm, the company was happy to share that it has #1 market share already in the infrastructure market with an estimated share of almost 30%.
We thought that was really interesting. For example, Top-of-Rack switches are listed. Those that are building current generation software-defined networks generally want x86 CPUs. We have an Arm Cortex based QCT QuantaMesh T3048-LY9 in the lab, and that was a total mistake. In hindsight, we should have gotten the x86 version of the switch to take advantage of the many software-defined networking solutions on the market. That may be changing, but today’s switches you still want x86.
Arm Neoverse Key IP Focus Areas and Solutions
As part of the Arm Neoverse, the company has a number of IP blocks that can be used to build solutions from Arm IP or integrate custom IP for specific vendor applications.
Arm is also playing up their secure platform initiative which makes sense given the scrutiny platform security has been getting in the press, including at STH.
The other big takeaway is that the Arm Neoverse platform has a roadmap. Current Cosmos platform is based on the A72 and A75, Cortex products. Staring in 2019 we will have a 7nm Ares platform followed by Zeus at 7nm+ and 5nm Poseidon.
Arm is pushing for a 30% generation on generation cadence. This is significant since it is on an annual release cycle. The x86 server market is currently on an 18 month or so cycle by comparison and IPC improvements have been in the 5-15% range generation-on-generation.
Bulding upon these new architectures, the company sees a number of scalable performance scenarios.
At the lower end of the spectrum is likely the Edge compute. We see this as going after the Intel Xeon D-2100 and Atom C3000 series from Intel and the AMD EPYC Embedded 3000 from AMD.
Another potential use case is networking and storage at the edge. Again, this is targeting the same x86 architectures and adding custom acceleration IP blocks to tailor CPUs for applications.
In the data center, Arm is looking to push Neoverse to 96 cores per socket. Current offerings top out in the 32-48 core range so that is a big jump.
Based on the workloads described, Arm Neoverse is targeting the more highly scalable workloads from a core count perspective versus raw core performance.
Arm Neoverse Ecosystem
As we might expect, there are many ecosystem partners behind the Arm server offering. We saw in both our Cavium ThunderX and Marvell Cavium ThunderX2 reviews that the Arm server space is heating up. Qualcomm Centriq has ended badly, but Ampere eMAG is ramping up.
Beyond the hardware, we are now at the point where the usual who’s who of server ecosystem vendors are lined up to support the new Arm infrastructure.
For those who have missed it, the big one for us here is with the recent VMware ESXi 64-bit Arm Support Announced. That is the first big traditional enterprise player that has joined the Arm revolution. Up until now, support has mostly been in the open source space as well as the appliance space.
This is an exciting time. For 2018 the Arm Neoverse we expect to be more of a branding effort. Starting with the 7nm 2019 Ares platform Arm can make more inroads. With Arm Neoverse pushing 30% performance CAGR companies like Ampere can use the Neoverse platform to rapidly deliver new generations and show their customers a roadmap of future improvement.