ARM Leaps Into The Future

“Cambridge, UK, May 18, 2016 – ARM today announced the first multicore, 64-bit ARM®v8-A processor test chip based on TSMC’s 10FinFET process technology. Simulation benchmarks show impressive power and efficiency gains relative to TSMC’s 16FinFET+ process technology, which is currently used to implement chips powering many of today’s leading premium smartphones.The successful validation of the test chip (tape out completed in Q4 of 2015) is an important milestone in ARM and TSMC’s successful ongoing collaboration. The fully validated complete design enablement solution includes IP, EDA tools, design flow and methodology to enable new customer tape-outs on TSMC’s most advanced FinFET process. In addition, SoC designers can now use the foundation IP building blocks (standard cell libraries, embedded memories and standard I/Os) to develop the most competitive SoCs for the highest possible performance with lowest power and area.”
 
See ARM Drives the Future of Premium Mobile Computing with a Multicore Test Chip based on 10FinFET from TSMC
ARM has certainly driven the market for small cheap computers from tiny controllers to power-sipping servers but they are not resting on their laurels. They now have libraries available for 10nm and they and TSMC are working on 7nm.

They can produce smartphones that last longer on a battery and do things faster or they can produce products that will make the 28nm AMD A1100 look puny. AMD already has a K12 core up the pipe. It will be only a couple of years until ARM’s latest tech finds its way to AMD or someone else to make proper server/desktop chips with good bandwidth, SATA and RAM to replace Beast. To wait or not to wait, that is the question…

On the one hand, A1100 is good enough for my conceivable needs but K12 or 10nm tech will be superior. On the other hand, 10nm would clearly increase performance per dollar. Beast is using 45nm and heats the house…

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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17 Responses to ARM Leaps Into The Future

  1. oiaohm says:

    Deaf Spy thing to remember there are more chromebooks in active usage than OS X machines. Chrome OS is in fact the second more common desktop OS these days and this is before Chrome OS adds support to run Android applications. So this asked the question how much productivity do users really need.

    Also that Intel Atom example please remember Intel is lining up to end support on Atom. So drivers on that platform could become a problem even for Linux users. So you just compared a support cpu against an one that is going to become unsupported.

    Odroid-XU4 SOC is supported by maker for another 6 years. For something long term intel supported you need to look at i3 or higher these days.

    high-end Chromebooks note your words High-end. Over half the chromebook market is not High-end. The mix of processes is quite a lot.

    Something interesting atom vs good Arm in performance is a fairly close match. Please note high end Chromebooks don’t use Atom chips but i5 chips. So if you are using high end chromebooks as bare min for CPU power you would have to say i5 or higher intel chip is require by desktop so dropping both arm and atom. Some atoms in fact use Arm or powervr GPU design not intels welcome to cross breed mongrels so an atom is 1 of 3 different GPU engines depend on what graphics engine really effects how much better on desktop it is than different arm cpus. Please note arm chips come with arms and powervr and a few others. i3 up only have intel graphics units.

    Deaf Spy entry level is going arm these days with Intel moving to i3 or higher so allowing intel to aim at a higher priced market.

    http://www.extremetech.com/mobile/221881-apples-a9x-goes-head-to-head-against-intels-core-m-in-arm-x86-grudge-match

    Please note http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Core-M-5Y70-vs-Intel-Atom-Z3795
    Core M chips kick the living heck out of Atoms in performance as well. So Atom vs Arm on performance these days good quality arm chips win every single time. To beat Arm chips dependably you need i3/i5 or core m. Of course when intel first made the Atoms they were able to out perform most Arm chips out there. The question is if Arm chips keep on increase in performance at the rate there are how long before i5 and core m performance comes in their reach.

    Intel being able to run to smaller nm to be faster than arm is disappearing. At 7 or 5 or 3 nm or 1 nm depending if 5 or 3 or 1 nm can in fact be made in volume will be wall then it will be a pure battle of who can design the best chip on silcon. 3nm is if it will even electrically work is a question. Final wall is 1 nm using graphene that no one has been able to design a system since 2008 to mass produce chips using that tech. Remember once you get to the 1nm wall there is no where more to go in fab design because physical world limits has kicked in.

    At that point things production wall limit things will get very interesting. Currently all FABs are spending hundreds billions per year updating their systems to produce smaller and smaller. Those costs have to be recovered. Most FABs don’t get to last out full operational life before being replaced. Heck they don’t even get to last out one 20 of the operation life. So wall point should also see another chip price drop.

  2. Deaf Spy says:

    The HP model is thin-client terminal, not a desktop. Chromebooks still need to walk a long way before they can compete with PCs and Macs on terms of productivity. Finally, your $74 Odroid-XU4 has no storage for this money, even no case. A 32GB eMMC card costs about $30. For $99, you can get this and enjoy all the software on x86.

  3. Deaf Spy says:

    In servers, ARM is so cheap, folks can have one core per process or nearly so and the problems of small/slow caches goes away.

    Utterly wrong. I brought a proof to refute your claim. Do you have some solid evidence to prove it?

    Again, what you all write has absolutely no impact on the desktop market. ARM has no place there, and not because it is not powerful enough (which is true, see how high-end Chromebooks run on Intel CPUs). See why Surface 1 and 2 (non-pro versions) failed. Here is your answer.

  4. Deaf Spy wrote, “There is no prospect for ARM to go on desktop in the next few years.”

    Well, be prepared for a shock because desktops are shipping today that use ARMed processors:
    Thin clients like HP t410
    Chromebooks like ASUS Chromebook Flip

    Even the currently available mini PCs using ARM are useful for lightweight desktops. These guys even ran some of M$’s favourite applications on ARM.

    “just like your desktop computer, you can still get by multitasking your browser alongside a Skype conversation while reading a PDF. The ODROID gets the job done, but at a slower pace. Even graphically-intensive applications, like TeamViewer, worked.”

    That’s with Odroid-XU4, $74.

  5. Deaf Spy wrote, “this also has nothing to do with ARM on desktop, where more than 4 cores are currently totally useless, and so will be within next few years.”

    That’s not about ARM at all. They do provide a proper fabric for connecting cores. Most designers are working on small mobile thingies which run on batteries so they use small RAM, and small caches to save power. AMD was free to increase cache-size and get decent throughput for servers. Others are doing the same with current technology. Again, this is not a limitation of ARM but of various designers of things like controllers and smartphones where ARM dominates. In servers, ARM is so cheap, folks can have one core per process or nearly so and the problems of small/slow caches goes away. Folks are building decent developer boards today using ARM and several folks are designing servers/desktops using ARM and not worrying about ARM at all. HP sells a lot of ARM servers today using ancient technology. A lot of Chromebooks are running on ARM today using ancient technology. At 7-10nm a lot more will do the same because devices using ARM cost a lot less. That’s most important with mass-produced consumer devices. It also matter when you have a room full of servers. Intel, Facebook, M$ and many others are working to make server infrastructure independent of chips. In the pipe you find server chips from ARM and Intel plug-compatible. You bet folks are doing that so that ARMed chips can be used in servers in a big way.

  6. Deaf Spy says:

    The A-72 core can’t replace a modern Xeon but folks are building systems with ~100 cores. They can.

    And folks have already failed. AMD with their Bulldozer, anyone? See, Robert, X cores never translate to X time performance improvement. May not even translate to X/2 performance improvements.
    http://www.gotw.ca/publications/concurrency-ddj.htm

    When it comes to servers, ARMs can make wonderful caching machines, where CPU power is not required. This means ARMs and x86 will be used in synergy, and there is place for everyone on this world.

    Anyway, this also has nothing to do with ARM on desktop, where more than 4 cores are currently totally useless, and so will be within next few years. Because writing concurrent code is hard, and then it comes to user, GUI apps, it is even harder.

    P.S. Now, I am totally sure Fifi will say something utterly stupid about concurrency, but don’t let this dimwit distract you. He brings you only shame.

  7. luvr says:

    Deaf Spy wrote, “There is no prospect for ARM to go on desktop in the next few years.”

    Well, thanks for the info. I think I’ll just wait a few years, then, and see how things will have evolved by then.

  8. Deaf Spy says:

    Sign. I expected somewhat better reading-comprehension skills from a native speaker.

    Robert’s source: “It has performance that can scale up from premium smartphones to large and mid-size tablets, clamshell, and convertible form factors. The Cortex-A72 also boasts a feature set ready for infrastructure deployment, enabling a wide-range of networking, storage, and server applications” (Emphasis mine)

    This, Robert, simplified, means:
    1. We are aiming and designing for small devices.
    2. There is potential that one day we might use the foundations of the technology for servers, but that would take a few iterations.

    Again. There is no prospect for ARM to go on desktop in the next few years.

    You fail in your first attempt to understand why. Hint: has nothing to do with hardware capabilities.

  9. Wizard Emeritus wrote, “it is smartphones and to a small extent tablets where the soc with a72 cores are first coming out”.

    That’s up to the designer, not ARM. The designers merely have to plug in more cache and the A-72s will do pretty well for desktop/server. They even have ECC and caches up to 2MB. The A-72 core can’t replace a modern Xeon but folks are building systems with ~100 cores. They can.

  10. Dr Loser says:

    FaceBook, Google, even M$ are involved in developing standardized scalable server systems.

    But not on ARM.

    Do you understand the concept of “relevance,” Robert?

    What’s even more embarrassing is that “ARM” is the basic centre of your OP.

    What’s the matter? Tractor maintenance taking up too much of your spare time to allow you to think properly?

  11. wizard emeritus wrote, “if the facebooks of the world decide to invest in ARMbased servers, they will be comissioning system custom designed to their specifications and takeing the entire run for themselves only. NO trickle-down technology from that for you.”

    FaceBook, Google, even M$ are involved in developing standardized scalable server systems: “The OCP Server Committee provides standardized server system specifications for scale computing. Standardization is key to ensure that OCP specification pool does not get fragmented by point solutions that plague the industry today. The Server Committee collaborates with the other OCP disciplines to ensure broad adoption and achieve optimizations throughout all aspects from validation, to manufacturing, deployments, data center operations, and de-commissioning.”

    Both ARMed and x86 systems are in the mix with plug-compatibility at the chip-level as a goal, so you can literally plug in an ARMed server where before you used x86. I do have a rack but it’s mostly empty. This stuff is an open standard so it won’t cost me extra to use it if I needed that kind of system. I just need one or two servers of a simple kind so ARM will do very well and thanks to ARM and partners, there are whole motherboards I can buy costing less than the chip from Intel. Atoms won’t cut it here. I have a couple. One died and the other is slower than molasses in January. Too bad AMD is so sluggish or their ARMed chip would be the way to go.

  12. wizard emeritus says:

    “ARM already has chips that could be used on light-weight desktops and servers. The 7 and 10nm is an enhancement on all of it. There really isn’t much call for that kind of power on smartphones.”

    But it is smartphones and to a small extent tablets where the soc with a72 cores are first coming out, Robert. Beyond smartphones and talets, one only has a small set of specialty servers (hp’s M400x $2500 ARM blade server, which requires HPblade server support infrastructure to work). And one of a kind standalone developer boards. And if the facebooks of the world decide to invest in ARMbased servers, they will be comissioning system custom designed to their specifications and takeing the entire run for themselves only. NO trickle-down technology from that for you.

    IMHO because of this It will be a long time if ever before the technological trickle down that allowed you to cobble together beast x86 on the cheap happens for ARM. And remember, all intel is also improving its x86 power budget. Foe most desktop and server users a 35W Xeon-D based system is “good enough”

  13. Deaf Spy wrote, ” Developers use ARM chips now only as testbeds for their IoT software.”

    Nope. Lots of folks are building kernels and everything else on ARM. Look at Beast. I can build my kernel in 7m with 4 cores at 2.5gHz. ARM and partners are shipping much more powerful processors. HP sells them, for example. There is a market and it’s growing and will grow faster with the improved chips. The only argument is whether or not ARM will have 25% of servers by 2020. People who know think ARM will definitely grow. There is demand.

  14. Poor Deaf Spy, being deaf and blind is so sad: “that would lead to more efficient chips for smart-phones. Nothing to do with desktops at this point. In fact, desktops and servers are not mentioned in your own source. They are purely in your imagination.”

    See http://www.arm.com “The improved performance and power-efficiency of the Cortex-A72 processor provides a significant boost to the rich, context-aware experiences users have come to expect in top tier mobile, automotive, and smart embedded client devices. It has performance that can scale up from premium smartphones to large and mid-size tablets, clamshell, and convertible form factors. The Cortex-A72 also boasts a feature set ready for infrastructure deployment, enabling a wide-range of networking, storage, and server applications. Finally, the Cortex-A72 functional safety support package simplifies the process to certify products for safety applications, such as automotive functional safety subsystems, military/aerospace, and industrial factory automation.”

    ARM already has chips that could be used on light-weight desktops and servers. The 7 and 10nm is an enhancement on all of it. There really isn’t much call for that kind of power on smartphones. What are you going to do, load pages in a fraction of the blink of an eye? What good does that do? OTOH, desktops and servers are all about running more processes for fun and profit and more/faster cores/interfaces/memory do that. They typical A-53/57/72 processors in smartphones have tiny caches for just a few processes. The chips for servers have MB caches, like AMD A11**. The A11** series is just a placeholder so software developers can make software to run on the next generation. FaceBook and others are all over those chips.

  15. Deaf Spy says:

    Robert, please focus. You wrote, and I repeat it again:

    …until ARM’s latest tech finds its way to AMD or someone else to make proper server/desktop chips with good bandwidth, SATA and RAM …

    (Emphasis mine)

    Again. Server/desktop

    “If there is zero demand, why is ARM going to 7nm?”
    Because that would lead to more efficient chips for smart-phones. Nothing to do with desktops at this point. In fact, desktops and servers are not mentioned in your own source. They are purely in your imagination.

    If I had $3K to waste

    For $3K, you can buy a very powerful, high-end x86 workstation, that will blow out of the water everything ARM can throw at it today, tomorrow or in two years.

    Developers need systems with which to work…

    Yes, and these systems must be powerful. Developers use ARM chips now only as testbeds for their IoT software. Actual development, though, happens on classic x86 desktops. You can write some software on something like Raspberry Pi, but it is a pain in the behind. You will run screaming back to your desktop.

    Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Will you try to guess why ARM on desktop, “with good bandwidth, SATA and RAM “, will not happen within next few years?

  16. Deaf Spy wrote, “That will not happen any time soon. There is exactly zero demand for such hardware in short term.”

    Nonsense. Developers need systems with which to work and the world is supplying them. If I had $3K to waste, I could buy a good one today. At $300 the Lemaker Cello is marginal but it would do.

    If there is zero demand, why is ARM going to 7nm? Aren’t chips running on body-heat already? Why did ARM develop A-72 cores? Why is FaceBook preparing to move lots of tasks to ARM? That’s not zero demand. That’s lively demand.

    More and more folks are using ARM on smartphones for everything they do with IT. It’s only natural that set top boxes and desktop boxes will become more powerful and suitable for what I want to do. I could pre-order Cello today, if I weren’t planning on buying grass seed this month. I can order Odroid-C2 clients today too. I will do that next month, most likely. There’s one last hitch in my pension – the government in its wisdom will allow me to invest it freely but not spend it… That will improve next year as the increase in my investments, over 100%, will be reflected in my cash-flow.

  17. Deaf Spy says:

    Don’t wait, Robert.

    …until ARM’s latest tech finds its way to AMD or someone else to make proper server/desktop chips with good bandwidth, SATA and RAM …

    That will not happen any time soon. There is exactly zero demand for such hardware in short term. I will give you three guesses why.

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