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Previous Blogs

December 3, 2019
AT&T and Microsoft Partnership on Network Edge Compute Highlights Future of Cloud and 5G

November 26, 2019
Google Brings More Intelligence to G Suite

November 19, 2019
HPE Debuts Container Platform

November 12, 2019
Dell Technologies Brings Cloud Business Models “on Prem”

November 5, 2019
Microsoft Cortana Pivot Highlights Evolving Role of Voice-Based Computing

October 29, 2019
Samsung Embraces Intel Project Athena Vision

October 22, 2019
Nvidia EGX Brings GPU Powered AI and 5G to the Edge

October 15, 2019
Poly Extends Collaboration Options

October 8, 2019
Arm Extends Reach in IoT

October 1, 2019
A 5G Status Report

September 24, 2019
Revised Galaxy Fold Adds New Twist to Fall Phone-a-Palooza

September 3, 2019
Huddle Rooms and Videoconferencing Reshaping Modern Work Environments

August 27, 2019
VMware Paints Multi-Faceted Picture of Computing Future

August 20, 2019
Server Chips Now Leading Semiconductor Innovations

August 13, 2019
Samsung and Microsoft Partnership Highlights Blended Device World

August 6, 2019
IBM Leveraging Red Hat for Hybrid Multi Cloud Strategy

July 30, 2019
T-Mobile, Sprint and Dish: It’s All about 5G

July 23, 2019
The Contradictory State of AI

July 16, 2019
Changes to Arm Licensing Model Add Flexibility for IoT

July 9, 2019
Intel Highlights Chiplet Advances

July 2, 2019
Ray Tracing Momentum Builds with Nvidia Launch

June 25, 2019
AT&T Shape Event Highlights 5G Promise and Perils

June 18, 2019
HPE and Google Cloud Expand Hybrid Options

June 11, 2019
AMD's Gamble Now Paying Off

June 4, 2019
Apple Blurs Lines Across Devices

May 21, 2019
Citrix Advances the Intelligent Workspace

May 14, 2019
Next Major Step in AI: On-Device Google Assistant

May 7, 2019
Microsoft Bot Frameworks Enable Custom Voice Assistants

May 1, 2019
Dell Technologies Pushes Toward Hybrid Cloud

April 23, 2019
Intel and Nvidia Partner to Drive Mobile PC Gaming

April 16, 2019
Samsung Galaxy Fold Unfolds the Future

April 9, 2019
Google Embraces Multi-Cloud Strategy with Anthos

April 8, 2019
Intel Helps Drive Data Center Advancements

April 2, 2019
Gaming Content Ecosystem Drives More Usage

March 26, 2019
Apple Card Highlights Disruption Potential for Tech Industry

March 19, 2019
PCs and Smartphones Duke it Out for Gaming Champion

March 12, 2019
Proposed Nvidia Purchase and CXL Standard Point to Data Center Evolution

March 5, 2019
Tech Standards Still Making Slow but Steady Progress with USB4 and WebAuthn

February 26, 2019
Second Gen HoloLens Provides Insights into Edge Computing Models

February 19, 2019
IBM’s Watson Anywhere Highlights Reality of a Multi-Cloud World

February 12, 2019
Extending Digital Personas Across Devices

February 5, 2019
Could Embedded 5G/LTE Kill WiFi?

January 29, 2019
Successful IT Projects More Dependent on Culture Than Technology

January 22, 2019
XR Gaming Market Remains Challenging

January 15, 2019
The Voice Assistant War: What If Nobody Wins?

January 8, 2019
Big CES Announcements are TVs and PCs

January 2, 2019
Top Tech Predictions for 2019

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TECHnalysis Research Blogs
TECHnalysis Research president Bob O'Donnell publishes commentary on current tech industry trends every Tuesday (along with occasional extras) at Techpinions.com and reprints those blog entries here. Those columns are also reprinted on Techspot, SeekingAlpha and LinkedIn and occasionally in re/code, Investing.com, Smarter Analyst and Indian Engineers.

He also writes a regular column in the Tech section of USAToday.com and those columns are posted here. Some of the USAToday columns are also published on partner sites, such as MSN.

He just started writing a new 5G-focused column for Forbes that can be found here and that is archived here. In addition, he also occasionally writes guest columns in various publications, including Fast Company and engadget. Those columns are reprinted here.

December 10, 2019
Amazon’s Graviton2 CPU Highlights Arm Presence in Cloud Compute

By Bob O'Donnell

Long-time semiconductor industry followers may recall that Arm, the chip IP company that completely dominates the smartphone market, has talked about making an impact on the enterprise and cloud computing markets for a very long time. Several years back, in fact, they made bold predictions about taking 20-25% of the server market. Despite a number of efforts in that direction from Arm semiconductor partners, however, that level of impact never occurred.

The company didn’t give up on its goals, though, and a few years ago, it unveiled a new brand, dubbed Neoverse, with a new chip architecture designed for infrastructure and other high-performance applications. However, those markets have been completely dominated by x86 processors from Intel and, more recently, AMD, so the initial acceptance of Arm-based compute engines—which often require recompiling or rewriting existing software—was modest.

Recently, the company has seen an enormous amount of momentum in the cloud computing space, capped by last week’s unveiling of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Graviton2 CPU at Amazon’s re:Invent conference. Graviton 2 is a custom-designed SOC (system on chip), built on a 7nm process technology, based on sixty-four separate 64-bit Neoverse N1 cores that’s optimized for the kind of cloud computing applications for which AWS is known. As the name implies, this is actually the second-generation Arm-based chip from AWS—the original Graviton came out around this time last year. What’s particularly noteworthy about the Graviton2 is that it’s designed to directly compete on a performance basis with the high-end datacenter-focused CPU offerings from Intel and AMD. Best of all, the Graviton2 offerings come with a significant cost savings as well.

Traditionally, Arm’s promise in the datacenter and for large-scale cloud computing installations has been primarily about power savings—a critical factor when you’re talking about thousands and thousands of servers. With this new custom-designed CPU from AWS (leveraging the Annapurna Labs acquisition Amazon made back in 2015), however, the company is claiming to offer both power and performance improvements over existing solutions from Intel and AMD, as well as a reduction in cost. That’s a big step forward and, frankly, not something that many people expected could happen so soon.

The Graviton2 also reflects a level of commitment from Amazon that shows they are serious about increasing the diversity of the CPU suppliers and chip architectures that they want to support. In fact, the company launched the Graviton2 as part of its new sixth generation of what it calls EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) instances, which are intended for high-intensity workloads including application servers, micro-services, high-performance computing, gaming, and more. The original Graviton, on the other hand, supported a more limited set of general-purpose applications, such as web servers and data/log processing. In other words, Amazon is positioning its latest Arm-based offerings as serious competitors, on par with the big guys for some of the toughest workloads that exist. That’s about as strong an endorsement as you can get.

Part of the reason that Amazon is able to push Graviton2 so aggressively is that they’ve built a lightweight hypervisor layer, they call Nitro, that lets operating systems, applications, and utilities run independent of the underlying CPU architecture. As mentioned above, one the biggest challenges for Arm in the datacenter has been the need to either recompile or rewrite/refactor applications to work with the Arm instruction set, instead of X86, and that can often be a difficult, expensive process. Thanks to Nitro, however, Amazon is opening up a significantly wider array of software to be able to run on Graviton2-based devices. Because Amazon controls the whole hardware and software stack within AWS, they are able to create both hardware and software solutions that match their needs exactly, and that’s what they’re doing with Graviton2 and Nitro.

In fact, according to reports, Amazon plans to run a number of its own utilities and AWS services on Graviton2-based servers, including critical applications like load balancing, starting in 2020. More than just an interesting technical exercise, the reason AWS is doing this is because by leveraging their own hardware technology and software stack, along with the power and performance efficiencies enabled by the Arm architecture, the company can generate significant savings for its own operations thanks to the Graviton2.

Though no specific details were discussed, we may also see Arm-powered Graviton2 processors in edge computing applications, such as the new partnership that AWS also announced last week with Verizon to bring AWS to 5G networks in the US. The partnership will leverage Amazon’s new AWS Wavelength offering, which was specifically designed to take advantage of the ultra-low latency connections that are possible with 5G networks. AWS Wavelength will enable applications such as cloud-based gaming, autonomous industrial equipment, smart cities, connected AR and VR headsets, and much more to use AWS-powered compute resources at the very edge of the network. In the company’s press release, Amazon said that Wavelength will be used with EC2 instances. It seems logical and appropriate that Graviton2 might be used in those environments, because the power-based benefits of the Arm architecture always implied that it would be a good match for edge computing.

Several years ago, it would have been hard to predict that Arm-based chips could be part of such a significant announcement in the cloud computing world. AWS’ Graviton2 debut and the high-powered instances for which they are using it, however, clearly show that after a long build-up, Arm’s time to make an impact in the world of cloud and enterprise computing has finally come.

Here's a link to the column: https://techpinions.com/amazons-graviton2-cpu-highlights-arm-presence-in-cloud-compute/59133

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.

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