Hands On & Initial Benchmarks With An Ampere eMAG 32-Core ARM Server

Written by Michael Larabel in Computers on 11 October 2018 at 10:00 AM EDT. Page 1 of 6. 34 Comments.

Especially with Qualcomm's Centriq efforts going quiet in recent months, one of the most interesting ARM server efforts at the moment is Ampere Computing -- the company founded by former Intel president Renee James and with several other ex-Intel employees on staff. They started off with the acquired assets from what was AppliedMicro and their X-Gene ARMv8 IP and for the past year have been improving it into their recently announced eMAG processors.

The eMAG processors announced back in September by Ampere are up to 32-core with a 3.3GHz turbo while having a launch price of $850 USD. Their second processor is a 16-core model with 3.3GHz turbo for $550. Both processors support eight DDR4-2667MHz memory channels, SATA 3.0 storage connectivity, 42 PCI Express 3.0 lanes, and these 16nm FinFET processors have a 125 Watt TDP. Lenovo and other ODMs will be manufacturing servers with eMAG processors although the expected pricing information isn't yet announced.

In an interesting move and certainly welcome given the often closed nature among other ARM vendors, they are today announcing a developer site. This developer site will be featuring documentation on their platform, open-source resources, compiler toolchains, and other developer material. This developer site is at developer.amperecomputing.com. It's really great they are working early on establishing an open-source ecosystem around this new, custom-designed ARMv8 server processor.

Their current evaluation server ships with CentOS 7 by default, but they are working on support for Ubuntu and other Linux distributions as well as making it easy for others to load up their own ARM Linux software platform. Likewise, they intend on supporting both GCC and LLVM Clang compilers and other key components of the ARM Linux open-source ecosystem.

Ampere Computing sent over one of their evaluation servers for benchmarking on Phoronix. It's not their production silicon, but nevertheless in the past few days that I have begun testing out this platform it's been a very interesting -- and pleasant -- ARM Linux server experience.

Here's an initial look at the Ampere eMAG 32-core ARM server as well as some initial benchmarks.

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