Ampere, the silicon start-up founded by former Intel president Renée James, has announced the release of its first product: The 32-core Ampere eMAG Arm-based server processor.
Renée James surprised the technology industry earlier this year by announcing the launch of Ampere, a start-up aimed at creating high-performance Arm-based processors for the data centre market - effectively spitting in the eye of Intel, after serving as is president until her departure in 2015, which has long held a majority share of the same market.
Now, Ampere's first product has begun shipping - and it's exactlyu as promised: A 32-core processor based on in-house 64-bit Armv8-A-compatible core intellectual property (IP) running at up to 3.3GHz under turbo-boost conditions with eight DDR4-2667 memory controllers, 42 lanes of PCI Express 3.0 (PCIe 3.0) connectivity, and a 125W thermal design profile (TDP), all based on Taiwan Semiconductors' mature 16nm FinFET process.
Impressively, the company's first launch already has a big name attached: Lenovo. 'We have made tremendous progress since our launch eight months ago, continuing to execute on our first and second generation products. More importantly, we are ahead of schedule on building out a robust, multi-product roadmap that meets the performance and features demanded by the cloud computing ecosystem,' claimes James, who serves as chair and chief executive of Ampere. 'We are partnering with world-class OEMs [Original Equipment Manufacturers] like Lenovo and several ODMs [Original Design Manufacturers] to address the unique design requirements for our cloud customers and meet their total cost and performance targets.'
'We are excited that Ampere eMAG is shipping to customers and partners. We have been working closely with the Ampere team over the past several months and have been impressed with the team and technology,' adds Paul Ju, vice-president and general manager for hyperscale at the Lenovo Data Centre Group. 'As the fastest growing server vendor in the world, Lenovo is rapidly growing as the new clear choice for hyperscale customers by designing customized boards and systems to each hyperscaler's unique requests, and building through our own extensive global factory and supply chain network. Together with Ampere, we will deliver a new generation of servers designed specifically with these customers in mind, providing the leadership quality, consistency and value they’ve come to expect from Lenovo.'
The company's roadmap includes, unsurprisingly, a shift down from the current 16nm process node to 7nm, with the first chips and supporting motherboards available in single- and multi-socket configurations some time in 2019. Pricing for the current-generation parts has been confirmed at $550 for a 16-core variant and $850 for the 32-core version (around £417 and £645 respectively, excluding taxes.)
Thus far the company has not announced any plans to branch out into offering Arm-based processors for other markets, including mobile and mainstream desktop, despite Microsoft's partnership with Qualcomm which has seen it port the Windows 10 family of operating systems to the architecture.