Ampere has quietly launched its Altra developers kit aimed at software creators for cloud data centers. Along with Dev Kit featuring the company’s system-on-chips with up to 80 cores, the Ampere also offers a pre-built workstation running its 128-core SoC, according to Joe Speed, the company’s edge computing chief. An unexpected twist is that the workstation can run Windows and even has driver support for Nvidia’s GeForce RTX graphics cards.
The Ampere Altra Developer Platform (AADP) is a prototyping system for general embedded applications, but it can obviously be used for building software for the cloud. The machine can use a variety of add-in boards, including Nvidia’s GeForce RTX cards. What is a bit surprising is that it can run Windows, making it perhaps the most powerful Arm-based machine that runs the consumer-oriented Microsoft operating system.
Ampere’s ARM workstations have been high on my list of desirable hardware I cannot afford and have no use for.
It is nice to see more competition on the ARM space, especially with open source hardware.
So far, I can see:
1) This Ampere, with currently up to 80-core in stock ($4,800 fully assembled system with 128GB of RAM)
2) Solidrun HoneyComb LX2 Base 1U Server ($3,000 2x 16core Arm® Cortex®-A72 modules, no RAM, but with dual QSFP28: 100Gbit Fiber)
3) Mac Studio up to 20-core CPU (but with 48-core GPU, which is lacking on alternatives) ($4,000)
4) Microsoft Windows Dev Kit 2023 with 8-core CPU, 32GB RAM, and much cheaper at $800 (not sure whether it can run Linux, though. But OpenBSD runs)
Bottom line: for at least developer workflows ARM is here.
This time, finally, I might actually buy one of these, as soon as I figure out a few other things.