Last year, Amazon introduced its custom ARM-based processor called Graviton to handle power loads at Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company’s booming and profitable cloud infrastructure business. The e-commerce player acquired Israel-based chip designer Annapurna back in 2015 for an estimated $350 which paved the way for its chipset.
“A few years ago the team started to think about building an Amazon-built custom CPU designed for cost-sensitive scale-out workloads,” AWS Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr said at that time. The company is now reportedly developing its second-generation custom server chip for prime time. According to a report by Reuters last week, AWS is almost done working on the chip. The new version is expected to be approximately 20% faster than the first-generation.
Amazon is currently the largest cloud infrastructure in the world. Bringing chip development in-house will certainly help in the budget despite the billions required to invest in custom chip design. Additionally, it will help Amazon’s dependence on Intel which dominates the chip market. Even though Advanced Micro Devices is making progress, Intel has over 95% market share in the third quarter, according to a report by Mercury Research.
As per the report, the second-generation chip will use ARM’s Neoverse N1 architecture. The technology is specifically designed for data centers and offers 2.5 times the performance for data center workloads while improving power efficiency compared to ARM’s Cortex A72 architecture, which Graviton uses. Amazon might also double the number of computing cores from 16 to 32, a source told.
Data centers are profitable business for both Amazon and Intel. AWS generated about $2.1 billion last quarter which comprised 56% of Amazon’s consolidated operating profits despite representing just 12% of revenue. Many companies manufacturer its custom chips, including Apple. Google has its custom Titan chip while Facebook and Microsoft are also joining the bandwagon.
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