ARM putting its chips on supercomputing

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We know and love ARM for their smartphone processors, but it looks like the company is planning on branching out into some new territory. This week they announced that they have designed some new chip architecture that is specifically suited for use in supercomputers.

What sets ARM apart has historically been the ruthless efficiency of of their processors. This has made them right at home in the mobile market, where space is so limited. If the company has some more space to work with, it’s possible that their strengths on the small scale could prove to be a perfect match for computing on a grander scale.

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We first saw ARM’s interest in supercomputing when it was revealed that Fujitsu’s follow-up to their Project K supercomputer would house ARM chips. At the time, ARM didn’t have any chip designs suited for this goal, but those revealed to day use a system called vector processing to handle immense amounts of data. The Post-K supercomputer will be the first to utilize these newly announced chips.

How well will ARM stack up in this line of work? Well, that remains to be seen, and you probably shouldn’t hold your breath. We won’t find out how effective ARM supercomputing chips are until Fujitsu’s Post-K device is online, and that switch isn’t slated to be thrown until 2020.

How well will ARM stack up in this line of work?

One curious relationship that’s bound to be affected by this is ARM’s dynamic with Intel. Intel struggled in the smartphone chip market for quite some time against the likes of ARM, but finally appears to have thrown in the towel. Intel Custom Foundry recently partnered with ARM, their former rival, to help produce 10nm SoCs (likely for Intel’s new customer LG).

However, if ARM making a push into the supercomputing realm would appear to put the company back in an adversarial role with Intel. It will certainly be interesting to stay abreast of how this plays out. As always, give us your take in the comments below.

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