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A Guide To Server Processors

Third Edition

To be Published May 2014
Order by May 9, 2014 and save $300

Authors: Mike Demler, David Kanter and Kevin Krewell

Single License: $3,995 (single copy, one user)
Corporate License: $5,995

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Examining the Processors Powering Scalable Computing

The market for server processors is changing, creating openings for new vendors. With the emergence of mega data centers and cloud computing, server economics no longer focus on capital expenses alone. Demand for ultimate performance from a single processor has been replaced by a balanced view of capital and operating costs. Performance per watt and performance per watt per dollar are the new metrics driving purchasing decisions in large data centers. Physical density is also growing in importance, driving greater scalability and new form factors such as microservers that pack more nodes into precious rack space.

The market is moving to a new era of where backward compatibility is less important than before and innovation takes the front seat. Intel and AMD—the incumbent vendors—continue to innovate and advance their Xeon and Opteron designs, respectively. Integration, microarchitecture advances, and process technology are the primary factors when evolving these x86 processors. But new entrants are eyeing cloud-computing environments as an opening for radically different architectures or more power-efficient CPU architectures.

Product Information Tempered By In-Depth Analysis

This report covers processors designed specifically for servers. We provide detailed coverage of Intel’s Xeon E3, E5 and E7 product lines as well as its new Atom products for microservers. We cover AMD’s Opteron family, including Opteron X for microservers and the company’s new ARM processor. Other ARM-compatible products include AppliedMicro’s X-Gene, Broadcom’s Vulcan, and Cavium’s Thunder. Because other vendors entering this market are using ARM-based designs, we provide coverage of ARM’s intellectual-property cores including the 64-bit Cortex-A57. We examine what went wrong at pioneering firms such as Calxeda, Marvell, and Tilera and speculate about potential market entries by Qualcomm and Samsung. This edition also continues our coverage of coprocessors (or accelerators) for high-performance computing (HPC), including Intel’s Xeon Phi, Nvidia’s Tesla, and AMD’s FirePro.

This report analyzes each vendor and each product, probing their strengths and weaknesses and presenting key details in a consistent, easy to compare fashion. We examine processor performance, integration, power dissipation, and overall system design. Where possible, we also look at the vendors’ roadmap.

Make Informed Decisions

As the leading vendor of technology analysis for microprocessors, The Linley Group has the expertise to deliver a comprehensive look at these technologies. Our analysts use their broad experience to deliver the technical and strategic information you need to make informed business decisions. And in case you are not familiar with all of the concepts involved in processor and server designs, the report includes several introductory chapters that define and describe terms such as superscalar, multithreading, pipelines, and virtualization.

This report is written for:

  • OEMs that need to make strategic vendor selections
  • ODMs supplying cloud-computing and HPC customers
  • Data-center architects looking at alternative platforms
  • Marketing and engineering staff at companies that sell other server components
  • Financial analysts who desire a detailed analysis and comparison of both incumbent and new vendors

What's New in This Edition

“A Guide to Server Processors” has been extensively updated to include the latest vendor disclosures.

Here are some of the many changes you will find:

  • Coverage of many new products from Intel, including Atom C-series (Avoton), Xeon E5/E7 v2 (Ivy Bridge), Xeon E3 v3 (Haswell), and Xeon Phi (Knights Landing)
  • New coverage of AMD’s Bulldozer-based Opteron 6300 processors, the low-end Opteron X, and its first ARMv8 processor (Seattle)
  • New coverage of Broadcom’sVulcan CPU for future server processors
  • Updated coverage of AppliedMicro’s X-Gene processor, the server industry’s first ARMv8 product
  • Updated coverage of Cavium’s Project Thunder, a multicore ARMv8 design built off of the company’s successful Octeon architecture
  • Updated coverage of ARM’s Cortex-A57 and fabric IP
  • New coverage of AMD’s FirePro accelerators for high-performance computing
  • Extensive updates to company information, roadmaps, and analysis
  • Forecast for ARM and x86 server processors through 2016
Table of Contents
1 Processor Technology
Processor Basics
CPU Microarchitecture
Server Processors and Technologies
Server Benchmarks
2 Instruction Sets
Architecture Comparison
x86 Instruction Set
ARM Instruction Set
3 Server Technology
Basic Server Architecture
I/O and Storage
Server Form Factors
Operating Systems
4 Market and Technology Trends
Market Trends
Processor-Design Trends
Server-Technology Trends
Market Outlook
5 Intel
Company Background
Key Features and Performance
Internal Architecture
System Design
Product Roadmap
Company Background
Key Features and Performance
Internal Architecture
System Design
Product Roadmap
7 AppliedMicro
Company Background
Key Features and Performance
Design Details
Company Background
Key Features and Performance
Internal Architecture
SoC Design
Development Tools
Product Roadmap
9 Cavium
Company Background
Key Features and Performance
10 HPC Coprocessors
Intel Xeon Phi
Company Background
Key Features and Performance
Internal Architecture
Programming Model and Tools
Nvidia Tesla
Company Background
Key Features and Performance
Design Details
Product Roadmap
AMD FirePro
Company Background
Key Features and Performance
Design Details
Product Roadmap
11 Other Vendors
12 Comparing Server Processors
Microserver Processors
High-Performance Processors (Uniprocessor)
Dual-Socket Processors
Four-Socket Processors
13 Conclusions
Vendor Outlook
Closing Thoughts
Appendix: Further Reading


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