Qualcomm Ships First 48-Core Centriq 2400 Server Chips To Take On Intel In The Data Center

Qualcomm Centriq 2400 Single Socket Server
Today, Qualcomm officially announced that it has begun shipping its Centriq 2400 server processors to its OEM partners. This marks a big step for Qualcomm, which is no stranger to the mobile market with its Snapdragon processors, but is a lesser known quantity in the server market. Intel's Xeon processors have already seen a credible challenge in the form of AMD's Zen-based EPYC family, and Centriq promises to be a low-power, high-density alternative that can run with the big dogs in the cloud infrastructure market.

Qualcomm first began talking up its Centriq family around this time last year. At the time, the company was sampling the processors, which are built on a Samsung 10-nanometer manufacturing process. Qualcomm worked with Samsung on this 10nm FinFET process, which is also used for the incredibly poplar Snapdragon 835 consumer-centric SoC for handsets.

centriq future

"Samsung's 10-nm process technology with specific optimizations for high performance, combined with Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies' leading-edge custom SoC design, allow us to deliver a world-class server processor that will disrupt the datacenter market," said ES Jung, president and general manager, Foundry Business, Samsung Electronics.

qualcomm centriq specs

Getting down to brass tacks, the Centriq 2400 family contains a total of 18 billion transistors occupying a die that measures 398mm2. The Centriq 2400 is available in three configurations featuring 40, 46 or 48 cores. Clock frequencies for these processors range from 2.3GHz/2.5GHz (base/max) for the Centriq 2434 to 2.2Hz/2.6GHz for the range-topping Centriq 2460.

Qualcomm Centriq Spec Table

Each of those cores are connected by a bi-directional segmented ring bus that is capable of delivering 250GBps of aggregate bandwidth. For every pair of Qualcomm Falkor cores within a Centriq processor, there is 512KB of shared L2 cache. In addition, there is up to 60MB of shared L3 cache available to all cores. The cores are highly tuned, custom implementations of the ARMv8 64-bit architecture. 

qualcomm centriq sku line up

There's a 6-channel DDR4 memory controller than supports up to 768GB of memory, while you're find support for 32 PCIe Gen3 lanes and 6 PCIe controllers. Given that the Centriq 2400 family is built using ARM architecture, Qualcomm is playing up power efficiency as a key advantage over its rivals from Intel and AMD. In this case, Centriq processor have a maximum TDP "well below" 120 Watts.

qualcomm centriq perf per thread
qualcomm centriq perf per watt vs intel

Although we'd love to be able to give you actual real-life benchmarks numbers comparing the Centriq 2400 family to its counterparts, Qualcomm isn't quite ready to provide those numbers at this time. Instead, it says that the 48-core Centriq 2460 offers a 4x uplift in performance-per-dollar and a 45 percent performance-per-watt improvement over Intel’s Xeon Platinum 8180. Those are some pretty bold performance/cost/efficiency claims that we'll definitely want to see played out in the real world.

qualcomm centriq perf per mm
qualcomm centriq perf per dollar

Qualcomm is hoping to make a splash with the Centriq 2400 family and it has lined up the following partners to showcase the power of the platform: Alibaba, American Megatrends Inc., Arm, Cadence Design Systems, Canonical, Chelsio Communications, Cloudflare, Excelero, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Illumina, LinkedIn, MariaDB, Mellanox, Microsoft Azure, MongoDB, Netronome, Packet, Red Hat, ScyllaDB, 6WIND, Samsung, Solarflare, Smartcore, SUSE, Uber, and Xilinx.

The 40-core Centriq 2434, 46-core Centriq 2453, and 48-core Centriq 2460 are priced at $888, $1,383 and $1,995 respectively. Considering that Intel's Xeon Platinum 8180 has an MSRP of $10,009, we have no doubt that Qualcomm will find more than a few companies that are willing to take a chance and kick the tires of its new server processors, if real world performance matches what the company is putting down on paper today. This ought to be interesting to watch unfold in the months ahead as Qualcomm powered servers are deployed in market.