Call to ARM: Huawei Claims Highest Performance ARM-based CPU

Huawei launches ARM-based Kunpeng 920 chipset, takes on x86 server chips from Intel, AMD

While Huawei has experience developing CPUs for smartphones, the Kunpeng 920 (built for its new TaiShan ARM servers), signals the firms intent to push further into the data centre and moreover its endorsement of ARM architecture. x86 server architecture, championed by Intel and AMC now dominates data centres. One focuses on storage, the second on high density, and a third option attempts to balance the two.

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). It is also facing bans in New Zealand, Australia, a likely ban in Japan, and a ban for government installations in the U.S., plus pressure from United States officials on domestic mobile network operators and foreign governments to boycott the company's products. Single-slot speed is "twice that of the incumbent offering", Huawei said, improving the performance of storage and various accelerators.

For Huawei, the launch of the chipset - called the Kunpeng 920 and designed by subsidiary HiSilicon - boosts its credentials as a semi-conductor designer, although the company said it had no intention of becoming exclusively a chip firm.

"At the same time, the ARM industry is seeing a new development opportunity", he added.

The new chipset, called Kunpeng 920, is created to go into data centers and will power the company's TaiShan server, which was also launched on Monday.

"At typical frequency, the SPECint Benchmark of the Kunpeng 920 CPU scores over 930, which is 25% higher than the industry benchmark", the company said.

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The Kunpeng 920 chip is based on the ARM system used increasingly in smartphones and distributed computing. "Huawei and Intel will continue our long-term strategic partnerships and continue to innovate together", said William Xu, Director of the Board and Chief Strategy Marketing Officer of Huawei. Xu said that Huawei will continue its relationship with Intel but it chooses the best option for each use case.

"We will work with global partners to drive the development of the ARM ecosystem and expand the computing space and embrace a diversified computing era".

Huawei's TaiShan servers are built for big data, distributed storage and ARM-native application scenarios.

On the hardware side, Huawei is a core member of Linaro.

In big data scenarios, the TaiShan servers are tuned for optimal many-core high concurrency and resource scheduling to deliver a 20 per cent increase to computing performance. Xu tried to play down suggestions the Kunpeng 920 might compete directly with Intel, a major supplier to Huawei.

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