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Google unveils Axion, its first Arm-based CPU for data centers

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Today Google has announced its first Arm-based CPU for data centers, most likely responding to Amazon’s Arm chips that power that giant’s data centers.

Google’s chip is called Axion, and it was designed using Arm’s Neoverse V2 CPU. Axion performs 30% better than the fastest general-purpose Arm-based instances available for cloud computing today, and also has 50% better performance and up to 60% better energy efficiency than “comparable current-generation x86-based instances”, Google says.

Google unveils Axion, its first Arm-based CPU for data centers

Soon, Google services like BigTable, Spanner, BigQuery, Blobstore, Pub/Sub, Google Earth Engine, and the YouTube Ads platform will all be using Axion. The fit is obviously good once you consider that Axion delivers “giant leaps in performance for general-purpose workloads like web and app servers, containerized microservices, open-source databases, in-memory caches, data analytics engines, media processing, CPU-based AI training and inferencing”, the company says.

Underpinning Axion is Titanium, which Google bills as a system of purpose-built custom silicon microcontrollers and tiered scale-out offloads, which take care of platform operations like networking and security, so Axion processors themselves have more capacity and improved performance as a consequence.

Arm CEO Rene Haas said:

Google’s announcement of the new Axion CPU marks a significant milestone in delivering custom silicon that is optimized for Google’s infrastructure, and built on our high-performance Arm Neoverse V2 platform. Decades of ecosystem investment, combined with Google’s ongoing innovation and open-source software contributions ensure the best experience for the workloads that matter most to customers running on Arm everywhere.

Google Cloud customers will be able to use Axion in services such as Google Compute Engine, Google Kubernetes Engine, Dataproc, Dataflow, and Cloud Batch, while Arm-compatible software and solutions are now available on the Google Cloud Marketplace. Actual availability of Axion is planned for “later this year”, with nothing more specific revealed at the moment.

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