Performance

The first SPECIntRate 2006 estimates were published by "CPU meister" Andreas Stiller. If we combine his findings with what we know and what is available at SPEC.org, we get the benchmark graph below.

SPECIntRate2006

Intel's own published SPECintrate scores are up to 20% higher, so at first sight the ARM competition is not there yet. However, we prefer to show the "lower numbers" as they have not been benchmarked with masterfully set ICC configuration settings.

The most aggressive architecture, the X-Gene, is quite a bit slower than the Xeon E3-1230L. The latter needs about 40W per node (SoC + chipset), while an X-Gene node would need almost 60W. AppliedMicro really needs the 28nm 2.8GHz X-Gene 2, which apparently can offer a 50% better performance per watt increase in SPECintrate 2006.

However, we have shown you that while SPECintrate 2006 is the standard often used, popular with most CPU designers, analysts and academic researchers, it is a pretty bad predictor of server performance. We should not discount the chances of the server ARM SoCs too quickly. A mediocre SPECint SoC can still perform well in server applications.

Overview Are Economies of Scale and Volume Enough?
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  • esterhasz - Thursday, December 18, 2014 - link

    But this is exactly why a wider array of machines based on their chips would make sense: the R&D cost is already spent anyways, since iPhone and iPad need chips, selling more units thus reduces R&D cost per unit. Economies of scale.

    I don't believe a MBA variant with ARM is down the road either, but the rumored iPad Pro could develop into something similar rather quickly.
    Reply
  • OreoCookie - Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - link

    If you want to talk about ARM on the desktop, that's a whole other discussion, but one that most certainly needs to include price: if the price difference between a Broadwell-based Core M and a fictitious Apple A9X is $200~$230, then this changes the discussion completely. Two other factors are graphics performance (the Core M has »only« 1.3 billion transistors, the A8X ~2 billion, indicating that the mythical A9X may have faster graphics) and the fact that Apple controls the release schedule and can spec the SoC to meet its projected needs. To view this topic solely through the lens of CPU performance is myopic. Reply
  • darkich - Friday, December 19, 2014 - link

    Your comparisons missed the picture spectacularly.
    A8X is a 20nm 2-4W TDP chip with a price that is probably around 70$.
    Top of the line Core M5Y70 is a 14nm 4.5 W TDP chip with a price of 270$.
    And it has a weaker GPU, btw. (raw performance). And it throttles massively, effectively giving only 50% of the benchmark performance.

    If you're going to compare that to an Apple chip, compare it to a 14nm A9X with custom derived PowerVR series 7 GPU,(scales up to 1,4 TFLOPS) vastly expanded memory controllers connected to a much faster RAM (compared to one in the iPad) upclocked to 2GHz, that are available at any time.
    Reply
  • darkich - Friday, December 19, 2014 - link

    .. *with cores upclocked to about 2GHz Reply
  • Flunk - Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - link

    Nintendo already sells ARM systems, the 3DS and the DS before it are both ARM-based. The PSVita is ARM too. I don't see an ARM Macbook Air anytime soon, they need a bigger and higher-clocking chip for that and it doesn't look like that's going to happen anytime soon. Reply
  • Nintendo Maniac 64 - Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - link

    Even the Game Boy Advance used an ARM7 for its main CPU. Reply
  • jjj - Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - link

    Obviously there are handhelds using ARM but the point was about bigger cores and clearly not handhelds. Reply
  • DLoweinc - Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - link

    Don't quote Wikipedia, not suitable for this level of writing. Reply
  • garbagedisposal - Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - link

    Says DLoweinc, master of knowledge and scholarly writing.
    In contrast to your childish and outdated opinion, Wikipedia is a perfectly valid source of information, go read about it and quit crying.
    Reply
  • Daniel Egger - Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - link

    The problem really is the custom solutions can simply not compete with Intel on any level for general purpose computing (which the majority of applications are), not on performace/price, performance/power and not even on features/price.

    For instance I can see a huge market for sub-Xeon (or Atom C) performance at a corresponding price -> not going to happen because everyone is targeting > Xeon performance at ridiculous prices because they're expecting the margin to be there however there're simply to many compromises to be made by the buyers so that has to fail.

    Also I can see a huge demand for Atom C - Xeon performance at lower power consumption however no one seems to be really targetting this, all we get are Raspberry Pi's and a bit beefier but close from even Atom C. The new virtualisation techniques (Docker et al) opened a whole new can of possibilities for non-x86(_64) devices because virtualisation is suddenly possible and much more lightweight than ever before but no one seems to want to jump this opportunity.

    I'd really like to buy some affordable general purpose (BYOM/BYOS) hardware which has a little bit of oomph and takes little power which should be the powerful sides of any of the contenders but somehow all fail to deliver and I don't even see an attempt to change that.

    If I want mind-boggling performance at decent performance/price ratio with real virtualisation and 100% standard software compatibility there's no way around the high end Xeons (and maybe AMD iff they manage to get their asses back up) and none of the contenders is ever going to challenge that so they might as well stop trying.
    Reply

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