ARM to add multithreading

September 30, 2010 | 09:26

Tags: #arm-cortex #asic #cortex #cortex-a15 #hyperthreading #multithreaded #multithreading #network-processor #risc

Companies: #arm #intel

The ARM Cortex-A15 processor is an novel device, hosting a raft of features such as virtualisation instructions and support for large amounts of RAM. The device indicates that the company is looking to make a splash in the server market - and things look set to get even more interesting in future revisions.

In a sign that the company is looking to step up its assault against Intel in the server market, aiming its low-powered processor designs at the many-core server sector at the heart of cloud computing projects, ARM has confirmed that future processor designs will include multithreading capabilities to further enhance their appeal.

The news was confirmed by ARM's segment marketing manager, Kumaran Siva, at the Linley Tech Conference, according to ITworld.

If the company is truly serious about making an impact in the server sector, it's a smart move. Intel's processors have featured multithreading in the form of the company's HyperThreading for some time, and while the benefit of running twice as many threads as you have cores hasn't exactly been proven in the consumer market, many server environments can enjoy a speed boost on parallel computing operations when the technology is enabled.

Speaking to attendees at the conference, Siva explained that the multithreading extensions would first appear in network processors before trickling down to the company's general-purpose chips. Asked why the Cortex-A15 chip, which is ARM's first real attempt to diversify from the mobile sector in years, didn't feature multithreading, Siva replied, "From our point of view, it has a lot of unfortunate implications from a software development and software maintenance point of view,", exlpaining that code developed for multithreaded environments means that it's "hard to migrate [...] in the future".

Sadly, Siva refused to be pressed on precisely when multithreaded ARM chips would make their appearance in the market.

Do you think that ARM has what it takes to break out of the mobile and embedded markets, or is Paul Otellini right when he claims Intel has nothing to fear? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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