Ampere, led by band of former Intel execs, aims to push ARM into data center

Ampere, led by former Intel president Renee James, is betting the time is right to scale ARM-based silicon in hyperscale cloud data centers.

3 things you should know about cloud v. data center

A new 64-bit ARM server processor company launched Monday and it's led by the former president of Intel.

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Ampere CEO Renee James

Renee James is now CEO of Ampere, which aims to target hyperscale cloud applications and data centers.

Of course, the big question is whether the timing is right for ARM-based processors to take their spot in the data center. ARM servers have been in development for years with multiple vendors -- Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Qualcomm, Cavium and others -- taking a shot at the market.

The rationale is sound: ARM can provide better power savings and lower total cost of ownership. What the ARM-server ecosystem has been lacking has been the applications, but that's changing.

Read also: Red Hat Enterprise Linux for ARM arrives after seven years of development

Ampere is betting that the timing is right. Ampere's first processor has been sampled. the processor is a custom core ARM v8 64-bit operating at up to 3.3 GHz, 1TB of memory, and a power envelope of 125 watts. Ampere is fabless and expects production in the second half.

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Kumar Sankaran, the vice president of software and platform engineering at Ampere, said the timing is better for ARM processors in the data center. "Historically, it has taken 8 to 10 years for a new architecture to work in the data center," explained Sankaran. "You need the software ecosystem that follows the hardware."

He added that ARM in the data center today is similar to where x86 was years ago.

In a statement, James noted that Ampere is targeting workloads such as artificial intelligence, big data and next-gen data centers. The management team at Ampere is stocked with former Intel and AMD executives, including:

  • Chief Architect: Atiq Bajwa, 30-year Intel veteran and head of all X86 architecture (all products)
  • Sr. Fellow: Greg Favor former AMD fellow on K6/7 team and AMCC Arm lead architect
  • EVP of hardware engineering: Rohit Vidwans -- 26 year Intel veteran, head of all platform engineering
  • CFO/COO: Chi Miller, former Intel and Apple executive

Ampere is funded by the Carlyle Group.

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