Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 13th Apr 2018 22:50 UTC, submitted by Doeke
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Cloudflare, which operates a content delivery network it also uses to provide DDoS protection services for websites, is in the middle of a push to vastly expand its global data center network. CDNs are usually made up of small-footprint nodes, but those nodes need to be in many places around the world.

As it expands, the company is making a big bet on ARM, the emerging alternative to Intel’s x86 processor architecture, which has dominated the data center market for decades.

The money quote from CloudFlare's CEO:

"We think we're now at a point where we can go one hundred percent to ARM. In our analysis, we found that even if Intel gave us the chips for free, it would still make sense to switch to ARM, because the power efficiency is so much better."

Intel and AMD ought to be worried about the future. Very worried. If I were them, I'd start work on serious ARM processors - because they're already missing out on mobile, and they're about to start missing out on desktops and servers, too.

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RE[3]: The real problem...
by gilboa on Mon 16th Apr 2018 08:18 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: The real problem..."
Member since:


You can fit 4 dual socket ThunderX (96 cores) with a terrabyte of ram each into a 2U rack. Thats 384 cores and 4TB of ram. Intel has nothing remotely this dense. The whole thing is probably sucking down 1000W fully loaded, but that is significantly better than most 4 node Xeon 2U servers, and you get 296 extra cores... Even if you take into account hyperthreading (which doesn't work on all workloads), you still have the ability to run about 200 more threads on a Cavium rack.

You talked about Density which usually translates to MIPS per U.
You claimed that Intel has nothing remotely close (your words, not mine) to ARMs density.
I proved otherwise.

A yet-to-be released high end Cavium Thunder X2 based solutions can "shove" 2 x 48 x 4 (384 cores) in 2U and require ~190w per socket.
An already shipping Intel Xeon Platinum based solution can pack 224 fast cores (448 threads) in 2U and require ~165w per socket (205w if you go super-high-end).
An already shipping AMD Eypc based solution can packet 256 cores (512 threads) in and require 180w per socket.

As this product is still soft launched, pricing information is not available and if ThunderX 1 is any indication, pricing will be ~40-50% of a comparable AMD/Intel based solution (A far cry from your 10-15x claim).

- Gilboa

Edited 2018-04-16 08:18 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[4]: The real problem...
by galvanash on Mon 16th Apr 2018 16:15 in reply to "RE[3]: The real problem..."
galvanash Member since:

Xeon 8180 is a $11k chip. ThunderX2 is (at most) a $2k chip - pricing info is still hard to find but is likely about the same as ThunderX (which was around $800).

Thats $90k vs $12k just on the CPUs alone. Cavium motherboards will obviously be far cheaper (its a SOC so they are far simpler) and cooling/power components will be cheaper as well. Rest of the components are irrelevant as they are not platform specific for the most part.

10x-15x could be a bit of an overstatement, but its still at least 5x-10x cheaper to go with Cavium (and far lower power usage on a per thread basis), and if they are really pricing them the same as the ThunderX (say $1k) the difference really is 10x-15x...

As far as performance goes, I think your missing the point. If your running a bunch of redis/memcache instances you don't want all that performance - its a waste of silicon. You just want a shit ton of cores with a bunch of cheap memory hanging off of them that occupy as little rack space as possible and use minimal power... This is exactly the kind of thing ARM/Atom are good for.

Why on earth would anyone buy a Xeon Platinum to do this? I'm not arguing that that high-end Xeon's are bad (hell, they are awesome!) - I'm arguing that low-end Xeons (atom based ones) are bad. They are simply built the wrong way to compete in the market they would actually be competitive in. Its not because they are too slow, and its not because they are too power hungry, its because they are not dense enough for the market they should be targeting...

The market Cavium primarly targets doesn't care about MIPs/U, they care about threads/U. Latency is all that matters...

Edited 2018-04-16 16:20 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3