Semiconductor specialist Cavium has announced its second generation of workload-optimized ARM server systems-on-a-chip (SoCs), the ThunderX2.

The new product family is based on the latest ARMv8-A architecture and built on a 14nm FinFET process node. The SoC can scale up to 54 cores with up to 3.0 GHz core frequency, will include six DDR4 72-bit memory controllers that can run at 3200 MHz, with up to three terabytes of memory in a dual socket configuration, full system virtualization using Cavium virtSOC, and hundreds of Gigabits of I/O bandwidth using integrated 25Gbps SerDes. ThunderX2 will also include “hundreds of integrated hardware accelerators for security, storage, networking and virtualization applications,” the company said.

It’s a family affair

Cavium Thunder X2
Cavium ThunderX2 – Cavium

“ThunderX2 combines our next generation core that will deliver significantly higher single thread performance with next generation IO and hardware accelerators to provide a compelling value proposition for the server market and greatly expand the serviceable server TAM. ThunderX2 will enable flexible, scalable and fully optimizable servers for next generation software defined data centers,” said Syed Ali, president and CEO of Cavium.

ThunderX2 will be available in four varieties, the same as the original ThunderX, with each one optimized for a specific market:

  • ThunderX2_CP: Optimized for cloud compute workloads such as private and public clouds, web serving, web caching, web search, commercial HPC workloads
  • ThunderX2_ST: Optimized for big data, cloud storage, massively parallel processing (MPP) databases and Data warehousing workloads
  • ThunderX2_SC: Optimized for secure web front-end, security appliances and cloud RAN type workloads
  • ThunderX2_NT: Optimized for media servers, scale-out embedded applications and NFV type workloads

Simon Segars, CEO of ARM, added: “The Cavium ThunderX2 will expand the market opportunity for ARM-based server technologies by addressing demanding application and workload requirements for compute, storage networking and security. ThunderX2 demonstrates Cavium’s ability to deliver a combination of innovation and engineering execution and the new product family increases the momentum for server deployments powered by ARM processors in large scale data centers and end user environments.”

Thunder Stuck

The announcement comes after ARM has struggled to make headway in the server space, despite proclaiming a goal of 20 percent of the market by 2020. Industry leader Intel has continued to make headway, while ARM chips like AMD’s Opteron A1100 have only just hit the market after delays.

Another oft-delayed piece of ARM hardware is Qualcomm’s mysterious unnamed 24-core chip, which is possibly currently being tested by Google. If the tests proved favorable, it could prove a boost for ARM, but some have questioned whether any new gains may be too little, too late.

Meanwhile, further competition is coming from the OpenPower Foundation, a non-profit which builds upon IBM’s Power architecture. March 2015 saw the launch of Tyan’s TN71-BP012, while the group itself has attracted over 100 members including Google, Rackspace, Samsung, Micron, Mellanox and Nvidia.