At the OCP Summit 2017, Microsoft showed off a new toy, an ARMv8 server based on the Qualcomm Centriq CPU. For those who are not keeping track, the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 is a 48 core ARMv8 (64-bit) CPU that has quad channel memory and solid amounts of I/O.

Qualcomm Centriq 2400 in Microsoft Servers

Qualcomm Centriq 2400 pads
Qualcomm Centriq 2400

The impact of the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 in the market is potentially large. Qualcomm is a much larger vendor than Cavium and has distribution and market relationships that Cavium does not have.

Here is the Microsoft OCP platform with the Qualcomm chip. You can see that it is a QDF2400 marked package and a very robust looking socket.

Qualcomm Centriq 2400 in OCP Microsoft Server
Qualcomm Centriq 2400 in OCP Microsoft Server

Flanking the SoC there are a total of eight DDR4 DIMM sockets. That gives Qualcomm memory capacities approaching the Intel Xeon E5-1600 series, but with 48 ARMv8 cores.

STH has the actual running demo of the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 processor running Microsoft Windows Server 2016. Or as the article says, it is an internal development version where some of the services are ported. So you can’t try this server out with an off-the-shelf version of Microsoft Windows Server 2016.

We couldn’t imagine why Microsoft was showing only the Qualcomm chip running Windows and not the Cavium ThunderX 2 as well. Cavium’s second-generation part is supposed to be much faster with significant IPC improvements. We’ve also heard that the Qualcomm chip is still very much a “V1” product whereas the ThunderX 2 has had time to mature after an initial version.

The Qualcomm Centriq 2400 is only a single-socket design for now. That means that there are three vendors already announced that can do single or dual sockets but Qualcomm is pushing a longer roadmap than the first-gen product. We do want to see what the future holds for the next-gen Qualcomm ARM server chips.