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Cloudflare switching to ARM Server, Intel "free" by Q4.

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ksec

Senior member
Mar 5, 2010
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Qualcomm figured out what smarter companies like Broadcom discovered long ago.
Care to expand on that? Centriq 2400 results sort of changed my mind and I thought they do have a chance, at least cracking 5% DC market is possible.
 

Nothingness

Platinum Member
Jul 3, 2013
2,158
406
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Care to expand on that? Centriq 2400 results sort of changed my mind and I thought they do have a chance, at least cracking 5% DC market is possible.
Technical merits alas are not what matters. Or else x86 would never have been where it is.

EDIT: To clarify, I talk about early x86 years, I'm amazed by what Intel and AMD engineers were able to pull out of that sh*t x86 is.
 

jpiniero

Diamond Member
Oct 1, 2010
8,903
1,638
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Technical merits alas are not what matters. Or else x86 would never have been where it is.
Intel's marketing team is the best yes. Like even when AMD was unambiguously faster in servers they only got max 20% share.
 

Tuna-Fish

Golden Member
Mar 4, 2011
1,054
635
136
Intel's marketing team is the best yes. Like even when AMD was unambiguously faster in servers they only got max 20% share.
At that point, AMD was making chips as fast as they could, and selling them as soon as they left the foundry. The 20% was just the most that AMD could possibly capture with only a single manufacturing plant, Intel marketing had nothing to do with it.
 

NeoLuxembourg

Senior member
Oct 10, 2013
752
206
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Somehow, Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare responded to my tweet

@TMFChipFool So, what will CloudFlare do now? :/
with

@dacostafilipe @TMFChipFool Use Centriq. #staytuned
Sounds like somebody is already in talks to buy the server chips division?
 

NTMBK

Diamond Member
Nov 14, 2011
9,159
2,388
136
Looks like Intel put in some effort to win Cloudflare back:

The performance of our infrastructure is heavily directed by how much compute we can squeeze in a given physical space and power. In essence, requests per second (RPS) per Watt is a critical metric that Qualcomm’s ARM64 46 core Falkor chip had a big advantageover Intel’s Skylake 4116.

Intel proposed to co-innovate with us an off-roadmap 24-core Xeon Gold CPU specifically made for our workload offering considerable value in Performance per Watt. For this generation, we continue using Intel as system solutions are widely available while we’re working on realizing ARM64’s benefits to production. We expect this CPU to perform with better RPS per Watt right off the bat; increasing the RPS by 200% from doubling the amount of cores, and increasing the power consumption by 174% from increasing the CPUs TDP from 85W to 150W each.
https://blog.cloudflare.com/a-tour-inside-cloudflares-g9-servers/
 
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coercitiv

Diamond Member
Jan 24, 2014
4,179
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Looks like Intel put in some effort to win Cloudflare back:

https://blog.cloudflare.com/a-tour-inside-cloudflares-g9-servers/
So, if their plans include covering their entire network with Intel based G9 servers by 2019, when is the supposed ARM switch going to happen? :)
We have big plans to cover our entire network with G9 servers, with most of them planned for the existing cities your site most likely uses. By 2019, you’ll benefit with increased bandwidth and lower wait times.
 
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DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
16,891
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And so Qualcomm's foray into the server market is re-dead. Put a fork in it, it's done. Again.

Sorry guys.

Interesting that Cloudflare didn't just switch to Cavium . . .
 

beginner99

Diamond Member
Jun 2, 2009
4,723
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And so Qualcomm's foray into the server market is re-dead. Put a fork in it, it's done. Again.

Sorry guys.

Interesting that Cloudflare didn't just switch to Cavium . . .
I wonder whether cloudflare cancelled the deal and that lead to Qualcomm canning the project or vice versa. eg chicken-egg problem.
 

NTMBK

Diamond Member
Nov 14, 2011
9,159
2,388
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So, if their plans include covering their entire network with Intel based G9 servers by 2019, when is the supposed ARM switch going to happen? :)
I guess they'll re-evaluate when they're planning G10... Got to keep Intel on their toes if you want to keep getting good prices!
 

Dayman1225

Golden Member
Aug 14, 2017
1,007
591
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But it wasn't about prices, remember? Last time they said they wouldn't take the Xeons even if offered for free...
"I’d give better-than-even odds that by Q4 this year we will no longer spend any money with Intel.” - CloudFlare CEO in March 2018.

In the same article... "CEO says ARM would be cheaper for Cloudflare’s workload even if x86 chips were free"

Q4'18: Intel offered to co-innovate, created an off-roadmap SKU for them and now their new generation of servers are powered by... Intel.

Life comes at you fast.
 

whm1974

Diamond Member
Jul 24, 2016
9,460
1,562
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"I’d give better-than-even odds that by Q4 this year we will no longer spend any money with Intel.” - CloudFlare CEO in March 2018.

In the same article... "CEO says ARM would be cheaper for Cloudflare’s workload even if x86 chips were free"

Q4'18: Intel offered to co-innovate, created an off-roadmap SKU for them and now their new generation of servers are powered by... Intel.

Life comes at you fast.
Are there suitable ARM CPUs for all of Cloudflares workloads?
 

DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
16,891
5,846
136
I wonder whether cloudflare cancelled the deal and that lead to Qualcomm canning the project or vice versa. eg chicken-egg problem.
Probably as much the former as anything else.

But it wasn't about prices, remember? Last time they said they wouldn't take the Xeons even if offered for free...
Intel is offering them a semi-custom version of their chips. It's already well-known that Xeons in the past have had custom instructions baked into the core for big customers that are not well-documented (or documented at all). Intel has the resources to either add instructions or remove bits from chips to please a specific customer. I have no idea how these custom Xeons will differ from "off-the-shelf" variants. What's clear is perf/watt for Cloudflare's specific software needs will be improved.

Are there suitable ARM CPUs for all of Cloudflares workloads?
Good question. Right now there's the ThunderX line and . . . what else? And I have no idea if those CPUs are appropriate for what Cloudflare wants to do anyway. Qualcomm's chips were not the same.
 

whm1974

Diamond Member
Jul 24, 2016
9,460
1,562
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Good question. Right now there's the ThunderX line and . . . what else? And I have no idea if those CPUs are appropriate for what Cloudflare wants to do anyway. Qualcomm's chips were not the same.
Are there any that are suitable for desktop usage? Every ARM CPU that I heard of that claims to be the case turns out to be much slower then current x86 CPUs.
 

DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
16,891
5,846
136
Are there any that are suitable for desktop usage? Every ARM CPU that I heard of that claims to be the case turns out to be much slower then current x86 CPUs.
Not that I know of. Neither Qualcomm nor Cavium has ever claimed to bring desktop chips to the market.

You can get Win10 running on ARM soon (or now? I guess?), but I do not know what chip you would choose for such an arrangement, and you're looking at non-native app performance penalties and other problems (drivers, etc)

Just looking casually, I can't find anything A75-based. You could maybe get the Huawei HiKey 960? That has some A73 cores. You could run Linux on it. It would be slow, though. There are phones that are faster than that.

edit: there is a newer HiKey, the HiKey 970. For $300 you get up to 6 GB RAM and a Kirin 970 (4xA73 + 4xA53). Probably the fastest single-board ARM solution out there, I guess. At 2.36 GHz it should do okay running Linux.
 
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whm1974

Diamond Member
Jul 24, 2016
9,460
1,562
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Not that I know of. Neither Qualcomm nor Cavium has ever claimed to bring desktop chips to the market.

You can get Win10 running on ARM soon (or now? I guess?), but I do not know what chip you would choose for such an arrangement, and you're looking at non-native app performance penalties and other problems (drivers, etc)

Just looking casually, I can't find anything A75-based. You could maybe get the Huawei HiKey 960? That has some A73 cores. You could run Linux on it. It would be slow, though. There are phones that are faster than that.

edit: there is a newer HiKey, the HiKey 970. For $300 you get up to 6 GB RAM and a Kirin 970 (4xA73 + 4xA53). Probably the fastest single-board ARM solution out there, I guess. At 2.36 GHz it should do okay running Linux.
Probably needs a very lightweight distro using OpenBox or something to get enough performance out it.
 

USER8000

Golden Member
Jun 23, 2012
1,517
745
136
"I’d give better-than-even odds that by Q4 this year we will no longer spend any money with Intel.” - CloudFlare CEO in March 2018.

In the same article... "CEO says ARM would be cheaper for Cloudflare’s workload even if x86 chips were free"

Q4'18: Intel offered to co-innovate, created an off-roadmap SKU for them and now their new generation of servers are powered by... Intel.

Life comes at you fast.
Don't worry guys,they can jerry-rig a few Apple A12s together,that will do it right?? That is what I was told in the other thread,that it will be easy peasy since the new iPhone is AMAZING!!

:p

PS:

Just to add balance:

Intel is utterly dooooooooooooooooooomed.
 
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coercitiv

Diamond Member
Jan 24, 2014
4,179
5,106
136
Intel is offering them a semi-custom version of their chips. It's already well-known that Xeons in the past have had custom instructions baked into the core for big customers that are not well-documented (or documented at all). Intel has the resources to either add instructions or remove bits from chips to please a specific customer. I have no idea how these custom Xeons will differ from "off-the-shelf" variants. What's clear is perf/watt for Cloudflare's specific software needs will be improved.
I don't think they had to go that far. From what I read they doubled number of cores per socket and likely used better binned silicon while also lowering operating frequency a bit. This leads to both better efficiency per core while also diminishing the relative power ratio of other components, since you need fewer machines for the same workload.

Basically someone at Intel came to them and used a far more diplomatic tone than the following:
"Yo dodo birds, if your workload is embarrassingly parallel, why the heck you not using chips with embarrassingly high number of cores?! Crank up core count, increase memory, get some free SSDs from us and enjoy both higher performance and efficiency per rack!"

It was at that moment, when Intel offered the free SSDs, that they finally caved in. /s

From the Q1 2018 article:
The company has already moved away from Intel SSDs after finding the performance wasn’t enough for its needs. (All Cloudflare servers use SSDs to cache data from the web sites it protects.) “I’d give better-than-even odds that by Q4 this year we will no longer spend any money with Intel,” Prince told us.
From the Q4 2018 blog post:
With all the requests we foresee for G9 to process, we need to tame down the outlying and long-tail latencies we have seen in our previous SSDs. Lowering p99 and p999 latency has been a serious endeavor. To help save milliseconds in disk response time for 0.01% or even 0.001% of all the traffic we see isn’t a joke! Datacenter grade SSDs in Intel S4500 will proliferate our fleet. These disks come with better endurance to last over the expected service life of our servers and better performance consistency with lower p95+ latency.
And wait, it gets better:
It’s a good thing that the G9’s SSDs aren’t seeing as many IOPS since it means we’re not hitting cache disks as often and are able to store and process more on CPU and memory. We’ve cut the read cache hits and latency by half. Less writes results in better performance consistency and longevity.
In other words they cherished the faster Intel SSDs only to find out that memory optimization reduced disk cache workload anyway. Fun stuff.
 

DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
16,891
5,846
136
Probably needs a very lightweight distro using OpenBox or something to get enough performance out it.
That wouldn't hurt. 4x 2.3 GHz A73 cores wouldn't be that slow actually, but the storage and RAM are pretty limited. Not sure how well the scheduler can handle the big.LITTLE arrangement either.

Ampere eMag (rebranded and relaunched X-Gene 3) looks pretty impressive: https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=ampere-emag-osprey&num=1 I want to see some head-to-head comparisons with Intel cores, to see how it stacks up.
Good catch. They had been flying under my radar. That's more of a server platform, though . . . it clearly has some warts.

Sooner or later, the ARMy is going to deploy some "serious" competitors for the desktop/laptop space. Thus far it has only been Snapdragon 835s running Win10 at low speeds. You can also get relatively-inexpensive Kirin 960 and 970 SBCs if you want them. The future is more promising: from Huawei, we will have the Kirin 980, while Qualcomm will be bringing both the Snapdragon 8150 and 8180 to market (allegedly, the 8180 is more aimed at Win10 laptops while the 8150 is supposed to be for phones/tablets).

I have to say the options for the Snapdragon 845 on SBCs has been pretty disappointing though. All you can get is a ~$1100 developer kit. It offers very little in hardware beyond the $300 Kirin 970 SBC aside from a battery mode and an integrated touchscreen/camera for testing. I/O looks worse on the dev kit, and it comes pre-loaded with Android which is useless for someone looking to run straight-up Linux on it. It would probably make more sense to get a regular phone with an 845, root it, and use it with a dock.

Regardless I don't see anything from Cavium or Ampere being suited to standard desktop usage.
 

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