Huawei unveils server chipset as it seeks new growth areas

Ruben Fields
January 10, 2019

Such technology is the latest in the semiconductor industry and allows for smaller components that are more powerful and energy efficient than their predecessors.

Momentum around ARM's breakout into mainstream computing continued today as Huawei unveiled what the Chinese tech giant touted is the industry's highest performing ARM-based CPU, targeting big data, distributed storage and ARM-native application scenarios.

"At typical frequency, the Kunpeng 920 CPU scores over 930 in the SPECint Benchmarks test, which is 25 per cent higher than the industry benchmark", Huawei says. The Kunpeng 920 aims to boost performance in terms of big data workloads, distributed storage, and floating-point calculations.

This puts Huawei in competition with Cavium and Qualcomm, producers of the ThunderX2 and Centriq Arm server processors, respectively, and with Amazon's Graviton CPU, which is only available as part of the EC2 offering on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Called Kunpeng 920, the Huawei-designed 7nm-process chip is based on the ARMv8 architecture license.

The Huawei TaiShan servers that are powered by the Kunpeng 920 processor come in three models: a storage-focused version, a high-density model, and one that was designed using a balanced approach. In such a context, ARM systems stand out with unique advantages in performance and power consumption... For example, in big data scenarios, the TaiShan servers are tuned for optimal many-core high concurrency and resource scheduling to deliver a 20% computing performance boost.

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In response to a question from CNBC about whether political pressure could affect sales of the new server, William Xu, Huawei's chief strategy marketing officer and director of the board, told CNBC that the company hopes to attract customers by making good products.

Huawei is looking to continue to grow its technological empire through consumer electronics and cloud computing. The company now aims to enhance growth of its revenues in cloud computing and enterprise services as it's equipment unit is under constant scrutiny in the West.

The current top cloud players are Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Google and Alibaba, according to market insight firm Synergy Research.

Huawei believes that an intelligent society with all things connected, sensing, and intelligent is underway, and this trend is picking up speeds. The development and convergence of ARM-based applications on smart terminals are accelerating, along with cloud-device collaboration. Huawei has invested patiently and intensively in computing innovation to continuously make breakthroughs. Currently, the diversity of applications and data is driving heterogeneous computing requirements.

Though no benchmarks are available, based on specifications alone, the Kunpeng 920 should easily outperform Amazon's Graviton CPU, which was announced in November 2018.

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