AMD announces ARM-based Seattle chip for servers

It's no secret that AMD has ARM-based Opteron processors in the works. We've known about the company's plan on that front since last October. This morning, though, AMD for the first time revealed specifics about its first ARM-derived server offering. The chip is code-named Seattle and is aimed at low-power 1P servers. It's due to start sampling in the first half of 2014 before launching in the second half.

AMD says Seattle will have eight "and then 16" cores based on the 64-bit ARM Cortex-A57 architecture. Clock speeds will be equal to or greater than 2GHz, and there will also be support for 128GB of RAM, AMD's Freedom Fabric interconnect, and other features like "extensive offload engines for better power efficiency and reduced CPU loading, server caliber encryption, and compression and legacy networking including integrated 10GbE." The chip will be fabbed using 28-nm process technology, just like the Kabini APU and that chip's server cousin, the Opteron X-series.

Interestingly, AMD says Seattle will be two to four times quicker and significantly more power-efficient than the Opteron X-series. In case you missed the memo, X-series offerings cram quad Jaguar cores and 128 graphics ALUs into power envelopes as tight as 9W. Versions with 128 graphics ALUs are available with TDPs as low as 11W. Given the higher core clocks, these are likely faster than the 1.5GHz Kabini chip we tested—and that chip landed between the latest Clover Trail Atom and a low-end Ivy Bridge Core i3 in terms of raw CPU performance. If Seattle can outperform its predecessor by as much as AMD claims, then that's a big deal.

There's no word in AMD's announcement about potential consumer variants of Seattle. Considering the server-specific features like encryption and 10GbE built into the chip, perhaps that particular silicon is unlikely to show up in tablets or notebooks. It's not inconceivable that AMD would use the same basic building blocks to make a consumer APU for Windows RT devices, however.

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