Amazon and Apple Shift From Intel’s Chips, Driving Industry Change

“Intel is building on more than 20 years of x86-based ecosystem work,” said Lisa Spelman, an Intel corporate vice president. “We ensure software compatibility and high performance, important requirements for both consumers and data center customers.”

Amazon also continues to expand its use of Intel chips for some jobs. It announced a plan on Tuesday to run Intel-powered Mac mini computers in its data centers to help programmers develop software for Apple systems without using Apple hardware.

But Arm is increasingly competitive in computing, said Rene Haas, president of Arm’s main products group. He said Arm has made key changes to boost the computing performance of each processor core, or the individual calculating engines laid out on each piece of silicon.

Cloud-style computing chores also can better exploit lots of relatively simple cores and special-purpose circuitry, said Amazon’s Mr. DeSantis. Its Arm-based chip, called the Graviton2, has 64 such cores compared with up to 24 more powerful cores on Intel server chips, he said. That helps it perform computing tasks that are done simultaneously, like serving up web pages to different people.

Ampere, a chip start-up in Santa Clara, Calif., has developed an 80-core Arm server chip and expects to release a 128-core version next year. Renée James, Ampere’s chief executive, said its customers and investors include the software giant Oracle, which plans to offer a cloud computing service based on Ampere’s chips.

Arm “is real with Amazon,” Ms. James said. “Their competitors will follow suit.”

Gerard Williams III, chief executive of Nuvia, another start-up promoting Arm-based chips, said Arm backers have also benefited as Intel has lost the lead in driving manufacturing innovations that make chips do more at a lower cost. Chip producers such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and Samsung Electronics can now pack more functions on each slice of silicon, which means Arm chip designers that use them can achieve speed advantages.

The change is showing up in many forms of computing. In laptop computers, Gartner, the research firm, predicted that Apple’s new Macs and rivals’ responses would push Arm-based PCs to 13.5 percent of the market by 2024, up from 1.1 percent this year.


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One thought on “Amazon and Apple Shift From Intel’s Chips, Driving Industry Change

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