The world's first 10 nanometer (nm) server processor designed by Qualcomm and produced by Samsung Electronics has begun mass production. Qualcomm has secured a strong opportunity to challenge in not only mobile but also server markets, while Samsung Electronics will be able to strengthen its foundry business division further.
At a press conference held on November 9 in San Jose, California, Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Inc., officially announced commercial shipment of the world’s first and only 10 nm server processor series: the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 processor family.
The Qualcomm Centriq 2400 processor family is the first high-performance Arm-based processor series designed to offer groundbreaking throughput performance for cloud workloads running in today’s datacenters. Purpose built for cloud, the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 server processor family delivers exceptional performance based on energy efficiency and cost.
The Qualcomm Centriq 2400 processor family is a single chip platform-level solution built using Samsung Electronics’ 10 nm FinFET process. Samsung Electronics and Qualcomm have maintained a strategic foundry collaboration for a long time. The two companies have recently expanded it to server processor areas after mass production of mobile processors built using cutting-edge 14 nm and 10 nm process technologies.
Jung Eun-seung, president and general manager of Samsung Electronics' foundry business, said, “We expect that the server processor that combines Samsung’s 10 nm FinFET process technology with specific optimizations for high performance and Qualcomm’s leading-edge custom SoC design will change the landscape of the datacenter server market."
In October 2016, Samsung Electronics successfully mass produced Qualcomm’s “Snapdragon 835” processor for smartphones by using its first-generation 10 nm low power early (LPE) process technology. This year, the company also successfully developed the second-generation 10 nm low power plus (LPP) process technology in April and 8 nm LPP process technology in October.
The Qualcomm Centriq 2400 processor family has 18 billion transistors on only 398 square millimeters. It contains up to 48 high-performance, 64-bit, single-thread cores, running at up to 2.6 GHz frequency. The cores are connected with a bi-directional segmented ring bus with 250 GBps of aggregate bandwidth to avoid performance bottlenecks under full load.
To maximize performance under various use cases, the design has 512 KB of shared L2 cache for every two cores, and 60 MB of unified L3 cache distributed on the die. It has 6 channels of DDR4 memory and can support up to 768 GB of total DRAM capacity with 32 PCIe Gen3 lanes and 6 PCIe controllers.
With a list price of US$1,995 (2.23 million won), the 48 core Qualcomm Centriq 2460 processor offers greater than 4 times better performance per dollar and up to 45 percent better performance per watt versus Intel’s highest-performance Skylake processor, the Intel Xeon Platinum 8180, according to Qualcomm.
Qualcomm Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs directly introduced the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 processor at the press conference. Jacobs has served as chairman of the board of directors after stepping down as CEO in 2014. He hasn’t made his official apprearance for the past few years. He said Qualcomm can change the server chip market structure monopolized by Intel.
Qualcomm is recently in difficulties due to the slowdown in the smartphone market, patent lawsuit with Apple and restrictions by regulators in some countries. Broadcom, a wireless LAN solution provider headquartered in Singapore, officially offered to acquire Qualcomm after the price of Qualcomm shares recently plunged.