Cavium announces 48-core ARMv8 server processor

Amid the Computex hubbub about new consumer gear, it's easy to miss server news. Cavium's latest anouncement is hard to ignore, though. The company has introduced a 64-bit ARMv8 processor that's packed with 48 cores. Yes, that's forty-eight. Unsurprisingly, Cavium says the ThunderX is the first chip of its kind. Here are the feature highlights:

  • The first ARM based SoC that scales up to 48 cores with up to 2.5 GHz core frequency with 78K of I-Cache and 32K of D-Cache along with 16MB of L2 cache.
  • The first ARM based SOC to be fully cache coherent across dual sockets using Cavium Coherent Processor Interconnect (CCPI™)
  • Integrated I/O capacity with 100s of Gigabits of I/O bandwidth
  • Four DDR3/4 72 bit memory controllers capable of supporting 2400 MHz memories with 1TB of memory in a dual socket configuration
  • Hundreds of integrated hardware accelerators for security, storage, networking and virtualization applications.
  • Standard based low latency Ethernet fabric interconnecting thousands of ThunderX™ nodes in 2D and 3D configurations and enabling fabric monitoring and SLA enforcements with awareness and policy enforcement for virtualized networks.
  • Virtualization everywhere with Cavium virtSOC™ technology – Full system virtualization for low latency from virtual machine to I/O. 

The ThunderX is "workload optimized" for cloud and data-center applications, according to Cavium. It looks like there will be four sub-series of the chip, each with a different set of hardware accelerators. The ThunderX_CP, for instance, will be optimized for cloud, content delivery, and social media services, while the ThunderX_ST will have accelerators primed for Hadoop and storage workloads.

Cavium says it plans to sample the ThunderX—along with a "range of hardware reference platforms"—early in the fourth quarter. No date is given for final availability, but some time next year would probably be a good guess.

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