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Ampere Is Poised for Something Big


By: Mary Jander

A five-year-old chip company is quietly outstripping established players in the cloud technology market.

Components from Ampere Computing LLC now run virtual machines on Azure, power cloud-oriented servers from HPE (NYSE: HPE), are in preview for Google Cloud, and are paired with Rigetti technology for quantum computing – to name just a few deployments. Ampere also counts Alibaba (NYSE: BABA), Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU), Cloudflare (NYSE: NET), Equinix (Nasdaq: EQIX), Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE), Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA), Oracle (NYSE: ORCL), and Tencent among its leading partners and customers.

Cloud-Native Processing?

So what’s attracting cloud hyperscalers to Ampere, which competes with Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), Amazon’s Graviton chips, and processors from AMD (Nasdaq: AMD)? Ampere says the answer is its “cloud-native processing,” a puzzling term that seems to refer to the adaptability of Ampere chips to cloud computing.

Specifically, Ampere packs its Altra processors with 80 or 128 Arm-licensed cores, which the vendor says are more power-efficient than alternative products. (Ampere claims four times the performance per watt compared to x86 processors.) The Altra series cores are also single-threaded, meaning they can run multiple applications in parallel. This fits cloud providers’ virtual machine offerings. Google Cloud, for instance, is previewing Ampere Altra processors as the basis for Tau T2A virtual machines (VMs).

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