back to article Taiwan's titans bullish on challengers to x86 in the datacenter and beyond

Taiwan's annual Computex exhibition grew up as the world's premier forum for everything to do with PCs, and later became a celebration of the island's outsized role in the ecosystem. The territory's tech industry has diversified since, and has added outsized influence on enterprise hardware and semiconductors. But the event's …

  1. JohnSheeran

    It is very interesting for sure. The two questions that always seem to come to mind are if the support for ARM is going to continue to build for the mainstream and if the architecture is actually better than x86. The former is looking promising. The latter not so much from what I've seen but I would be very happy to be educated. My personal experience is that ARM (even 64 bit) is really slow but I'm hopeful that it gets better and actually challenges Intel/AMD.

    1. Vikingforties

      It depends.

      For the latter question - The answer, as always, is "It depends". Neoverse N / Ampere Altra Family / Graviton etc. get fast and, more importantly, efficient when the workloads are highly parallel or lots of small jobs from different sources/containers/VMs. They're aimed at the data centre where the calculation is made about performance per rack or indeed whether you can actually fill a rack without busting its power limit. Obviously, if you can only half fill your rack you might be doubling your floor space or colo rent - another cost. The TCO of a server is dominated by power consumption over a five year lifetime so performance per watt is important. While you might not be training an LLM on these processors, they'll happily take care of the 85% of data centre computing the rest of us need.

      Neoverse V & N2 (I think) addresses the per thread performance by bringing SVE vector instructions, similar to what's available on x86 these days so that they can compete on per thread performance.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is it still(?) the case that ARM systems lack a standard "ecosystem" when it comes to buses, motherboards, BIOS/EFI, and so on?

      I.e. the "building blocks" if you will, that turn a collection of parts into a system, or at least a spec, which OS and software and hardware developers can design a complete system around?

      That seems to be missing in the SBC ARM world, where the Raspberry Pi and ROCK and PINE chips et al are great fun and even potentially useful little tools for some duties, but every new board is essentially a new porting effort.

      I have an rpi4 and like it just fine, but I do have to admit that I would have a bit more confidence in the future of ARM if the boards we ordinary users might buy were more standardized, included a bit of expansion here and there (e.g. PCIe), off-the-shelf power and cases with standard cutouts, e.g. something more akin to what you find in x86 ITX systems or similar gear.

      And, I would like to think, if such specs and standards and systems existed, the OS development would follow, and the Linux and BSD's of the world, at least, might have a real installation routine like they do for x86, rather than imaging ('dd' or whatever) someone's pre-built OS image and filesystem onto an SD card or what have you.

      1. Vikingforties

        SBCs yes, although Armbian and other efforts are trying to help with standardisation.

        When it comes to Aarch64 servers things are different. SBSA Server Base System Architecture and a bunch of associated efforts mean that you can boot into a regular UEFI/BIOS like AMI Aptio V, Tianocore EDK2, use management like OpenBMC, iLO, MegaRac and address it using ipmi etc.

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