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Oracle, IBM race for server processor lead

Posted: 27 Jun 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:interconnect chip? servers? CPU?

Technology industry giants IBM and Oracle Corporation are expected to introduce their next-generation server processors at the Hot Chips conference to be held from August 25 t0 27.

IBM will discuss Power 8 and Oracle will talk about its M6 CPU and a related interconnect chip called Bixby at the event on the Stanford campus. Other talks at the event generally provide incremental details about chips already discussed elsewhere.

IBM's previous Power 7 chip was hailed on its announcement as one of the most dense and scalable server chips of its time. "IBM has said next to nothing about Power 8, so this should be interesting," said Nathan Brookwood, principal of market watcher Insight64.

Although Intel's chips dominate the server market, it has little news in that sector right now. The x86 giant will talk about client versions of its 22nm Haswell processors coming to market this year. The heftier server versions of Haswell will mainly roll in 2014, making papers on them premature for this Hot Chips.

Likewise, FPGA leaders Altera and Xilinx only recently started talking about their next-generation chips. They were not able to field papers on them in time for the event.

In mobile, Intel is expected to provide some incremental details about its Atom-based Bay Trail SoC for tablets, formally announced at Computex, as well as its Clover Tail+ smartphone chip now shipping. AMD will counter with talks on its Kabini and Richland client x86 chips.

No new ARM-based SoCs will be disclosed at the event. "It's more and more difficult to get people to talk [about app processors because] everyone is so worried about getting sued that they only talk under NDA to customers about what's in them," said Ralph Wittig, a member of the Hot Chips programme committee.

Fittingly, Hot Chips will stray from its silicon focus for one keynote from an intellectual property lawyer.

Organisers were able to convince Qualcomm to give what is expected to be the first disclosure of the architecture of the Hexagon DSP core used in its baseband chips. Published benchmarks have rated the core highly among its competitors, Wittig said.

On the consumer front, Microsoft will talk about the previously disclosed silicon inside its new Xbox One. Separately, the programme manager for Google's Project Glass will talk about the server load generated by the glasses that pack an embedded computer, now the subject of a much watched beta test programme.

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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