Powerful server ARM processors are no longer surprising: A64FX are working in the world’s fastest supercomputer Fugaku, ThunderX and Altra are trying to be universal, and Graviton2 is being mastered in the Amazon cloud. NUVIA, a young but promising processor developer, wants to compete with the latter.
SoC NUVIA Orion, which will include an ARM-based Phoenix processor, is focused primarily on cloud providers and hyperscalers, that is, on a very “fat” piece of the server processor market, where Intel and the x86-64 architecture in general now dominate. In this segment, where the number of active servers is in the millions, it is not the purchase costs that are extremely important, but the costs of maintaining and maintaining such a huge fleet.
Energy costs (power and cooling) are one of the main concerns, so NUVIA rightly believes that such customers need a fast and energy efficient processor. The company does not classify solutions based on x86-64 as such: they really have high performance, but the increase in power is disproportionate to the increase in TDP and consumption, and this is their main problem, unlike ARM.
To bolster its point, NUVIA has run its own tests on Geekbench 5 on modern ARM and x86-64 mobile platforms. The choice of the benchmark is due to the fact that it includes modern and varied CPU loads. And mobile platforms were chosen because they, like the servers in the data center of hyperscalers, have forced limitations on power and cooling. Indeed, the same Facebook for its own platforms is striving for a value of 400 – 600 watts per chassis.
The above graph clearly shows that the performance of the cores of ARM-processors grows much faster with increasing power. And this is exactly what NUVIA is striving for – Phoenix kernels will be 50-100% faster than others and at the same time three to four times more economical than x86-64 kernels. But we must take into account that NUVIA itself focuses on consumption in the range from about 0.5 to 5 W per core. The company believes that in the near future all server processors will have from 64 to 128 cores and a TDP of 250 – 300 W, so its SoC with such core parameters fits into these parameters.