AMD Unveils 64-Bit ARM-Based Opteron A1100 SoC With Integrated 10GbE For The Datacenter

AMD is adding a new family of Opterons to its enterprise processor line-up today called the Opteron A1100 series. Unlike AMD’s previous enterprise offerings, however, these new additions are packing ARM-based processor cores, not the X86 cores AMD has been producing for years. The Opteron A1100 series is designed for a variety of use cases and applications, including networking, storage, dense and power-efficient web serving, and 64-bit ARM software development.

The Opteron A1100 System-on-Chip (SoC), was formerly codenamed “Seattle” and it represents the first 64-bit ARM Cortex-A57-based platform from AMD. The AMD Opteron A1100 utilizes off-the-shelf ARM Cortex-A57 processor cores, with integrated high-speed network and storage connectivity.

amd a1100 overview

AMD Opteron A1100 Series SoCs will pack up to eight 64-bit ARM Cortex-A57 cores with up to 4MB of shared Level 2 and 8MB of shared Level 3 cache. They offer two 64-bit DDR3/DDR4 memory channels supporting speeds up to 1866 MHz with ECC and capacities up to 128GB, dual integrated 10Gb Ethernet network connections, 8-lanes of PCI-Express Gen 3 connectivity, and 14 SATA III ports.

amd a1100 block diagram

The block diagram above shows the rough arrangement of the processor cores, cache, memory controllers, co-processors, and IO of the Opteron A1100 series. In addition to all of the connectivity outlined above, the Opteron A1100 also features an ARM TrustZone compliant crypto/compression co-processor, along with a Cortex A5-based system control processor. Each pair of Cortex A57s is linked to its own 1MB of L2 cache, hence the "up to" 4MB of shared L2 cache listed in the slide. Though the top-end A1100s feature eight Cortex A57 cores, quad-core models will also be offered that have a quartet of cores and their accompanying L2 cache disabled.

amd a1100 models

In terms of actual product options, there will be three initial A1100-series Opterons. The top end model -- the A1170 -- features 8 cores, with a max CPU frequency of 2GHz. The A1150 has a similar core configuration, but clocks in at a lower 1.7GHz peak. And the A1120 nixes four cores and 2MB of cache, but also clocks in at 1.7GHz.  All of the chips have the same memory limitations and operating temperature range, but the top two parts have somewhat higher 32W TDPs due to their higher core counts, versus the quad-core A1120's 25W. We're told pricing for the top-end Opteron A1170 will hover around the $150 mark, with the lower end parts slotting in behind. 

opteron a1100 packaging

The AMD Opteron A1100 series SoCs employ a 27mm2 BGA package with an approximate ball count of 1021. They are lidless, which is to say the die is exposed and lacks an integrated heat spreader like most current desktop processors.

ddr3 config

ddr4 config

The Opteron A1100 series SoCs also work with both DDR3 or DDR4 memory types.  DDR3 memory will be for lower-cost, and potentially lower-clocked solutions. DDR3 configurations also supports much lower memory densities -- up to 4x lower when RDIMMs are used. The DDR3 configurations also lack support for Address Parity and require higher voltage, and hence could use more power. To achieve the max 128GB supported by the platform, DDR4 must be used.

amd a1100 partners

AMD has a number of software and hardware partners on board for the Opteron A1100 series. SoftIron has a 1U 64-bit ARM developer system already available and Beaconworks will offer a range of network attached storage products. Silver Lining Systems is offering its PCIe Fabric Interconnect Adapter, the SLS FIA-2100, for AMD Opteron A1100-based servers, 96 Boards will also be bringing out a low-cost ARM development platform, and Caswell has an NFV (network-function virtualization) platform in the works.  A handful of software partners are also supporting the AMD Opteron A1100 with operating systems and applications, including Red Hat, Suse, Enea, and Linaro.

AMD is shipping Opteron A1100 series products to a number of software and hardware partners now and development systems are already available.