AppliedMicro has released specifications of their upcoming X-Gene SoC (Server-on-a-Chip this time, not System).

AppliedMicro X-Gene Specifications
Architecture ARMv8
Cores From 2 to up to 128
Frequency Up to 3GHz
Process TSMC 40/28nm
Power Usage Up to 2W per core

Above is a simple table showing the key specifications. ARMv8 is ARM's brand new architecture, which was announced on Thursday. ARMv8 brings 64-bit addressing to ARM architecture, which makes ARM a more attractive solution for server market. X-Gene is very scalable - core count ranges from two to up to 128, while the frequency is up to 3GHz (yes, even with 128 cores). AppliedMicro has chosen TSMC as the manufacturer of the SoCs and the process will be TSMC's 40nm and 28nm. 

X-Gene is a SoC, meaning that key server and network components are integrated onto the same chip. This is much cleaner approach when compared to for example Intel's, where you have several independent chips, such as the CPU(s) and chipset controller. X-Gene even has an integrated 10Gbit Ethernet controller, which should be a welcome addition for enterprises with a need for high-speed networking. Support for multi-chip configurations is also present, enabled by a 100Gbit/s interface (just for comparison, Intel's QPI is good for up to 204.8Gbit/s).

The biggest advantage of X-Gene is its power efficiency. At full load, the power usage is only 2 watts per core. When idling, the power usage is one fourth, 0.5 watts per core. For the 128-core chip at 3GHz, the power usage works out to be 256W, or 64W when idling. 256W may sound like a big number but it's actually on-par with for example two Intel X5680s, which are 130W each. And that is when excluding the power used by the chipset and other components, which are integrated into X-Gene. Of course, performance is a big question mark but if AppliedMicro's tests are to believe, X-Gene is up to three times faster than Intel's Sandy Bridge based E3 Xeons when looking at similar power profile. It should be noted these numbers are based on pre-silicon projections, so a lot can change before the final products hit the market. 

The scalability of X-Gene allows a broad suite of market-end applications. The low-end chips with only a couple of cores are suitable for more consumer-friendly devices like NASs and routers - whereas the chips with higher core count are ideal for more complex setups, such as data centers. The first samples of X-Gene are expected in the second half of 2012. 

Stay tuned for a more thorough analysis of this announcement!

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