Qualcomm’s long-anticipated Arm-based Centriq 2400 server processor family has finally been launched.

The 48-core, 64-bit Centriq line aims to take on Intel, with Qualcomm highlighting cost and performance advantages over the Skylake processors.

Arm’s latest hope

Centriq 2400
– Qualcomm

The Centriq has a list price starting at $1,995, which the company claims gives it a more than 4x better performance per dollar and up to 45 percent better performance per watt than Intel’s highest-performance Skylake processor, the Intel Xeon Platinum 818.

“Today’s announcement is an important achievement and the culmination of more than four years of intense design, development and ecosystem enablement effort,” Anand Chandrasekher, SVP and GM of Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies, said.

“We have designed the most advanced Arm-based server processor in the world that delivers high performance coupled with the highest energy efficiency, enabling our customers to realize significant cost savings.”

The processor’s 48 cores are connected with a bi-directional segmented ring bus with 250GBps of aggregate bandwidth. The design has 512KB of shared L2 cache for every two cores, and 60MB of unified L3 cache distributed on the die. It offers six channels of DDR4 memory and can support up to 768GB of total DRAM capacity, with 32 PCIe Gen3 lanes and 6 PCIe controllers. At the same time, it consumes less than 120 watts.

“Samsung and Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies have expanded a decade-long strategic foundry collaboration to manufacture the Qualcomm Centriq 2400, the world’s first server processor built on industry’s first 10-nanometer (nm) FinFET process technology,” ES Jung, president and GM of Samsung’s Foundry Business, said.

“Samsung’s 10-nm process technology with specific optimizations for high performance, combined with Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies’ leading-edge custom SoC design, allow us to deliver a world-class server processor that will disrupt the data center market.”

At a launch event in San Jose, the company announced a host of partners who have tested the Centriq 2400 series - including Alibaba, Cloudflare, Canonical, HPE, MariaDB, Mellanox, Microsoft, Netronome, Packet, Red Hat, Solarflare, SUSE, Uber and Xilinx.

“Microsoft and Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies have made tremendous progress since our announcement at the Open Compute Project US Summit earlier this year,” Mike Neil, corporate VP of Azure infrastructure and management at Microsoft, said. “Qualcomm Centriq 2400 is well suited for highly parallelized workloads like those found in hyper-scale clouds. We believe that Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies has the ability to deliver extremely compelling performance per watt and total cost of ownership.”

Dr. Weifeng Zhang, senior director of Alibaba infrastructure services group, added: “We are pleased to partner with Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies to enable high-performance, power-efficient server chips to drive data center innovation in China.

“We see opportunities for Qualcomm Centriq 2400 chipsets to grow in various use segments in China. We are optimistic that Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies can deliver competitive products that span across hardware and software ecosystem generations.”

Even though Google wasn’t announced as a partner, it welcomed the news of a viable CPU alternative in the current Intel-dominated landscape. Bart Sano, VP of platforms at Google, commented: “Choice leads to innovation which ultimately benefits our users. The 64-bit Armv8-A architecture and ecosystem is now a viable alternative for scale-out data center designs.”

The server processor launch comes as Qualcomm itself is facing an unsolicited takeover bid from Broadcom, which has offered $130 billion for the company, including debt.