There are three factors that make Arm chips a lot more interesting from late 2020 and early 2021:
First is the ARMv9 instruction set: In 2013, Apple shocked the chip industry with the first ARMv8 chip for mobile devices, the Apple A7. All competitors still used the ARMv7 instruction set and planned to use it for several more years.
Now ARMv9 is coming. In all likelihood, Hercules is the last high-performance ARMv8 core and Matterhorn will become Arm itself’s first high-performance ARMv9 core in 2021. However, Apple is developing its own CPU cores, so you don’t have to wait for Matterhorn to be available. Huawei also spoke in October 2019 about the near arrival of ARMv9.
The second are SVE2 vector extensions: SIMD statements, which can handle multiple small numbers per instruction (for example, four 16-bit numbers in a 64-bit instruction), are already common on x86, including SSE2, SSSE3, AVX2 and now AVX-512. However, Arm only knows NEON, a 128-bit wide vector instruction set that is widely used but cannot be used with the 256-bit wide AVX2 or even 512-bit wide AVX-512. However, Arm has already announced its successor, Scalable Vector Extension 2 (SVE2). As the name implies, this is a scalable extension with no fixed width. SVE2 can scale vectors from 128-bit to 2048-bit into 128-bit blocks. So a smartwatch could get the simplest 128-bit implementation, a smartphone 256-bit, your laptop 512-bit, a powerful 1024-bit desktop stop, and a server 2048-bit, all running on the same code (!).
The third is TSMC’s 5nm process: We will see it this year in mobile chips, but in 2021, yields will also be high enough for larger laptop and desktop chips. 85% more transistors fit on TSMC N5 than on N7 per square millimeter, giving Apple enough leeway to build powerful ARMv9 cores with wide SVE2 vector implementations and then place many on one chip. I wouldn’t be surprised if the most powerful variant for laptops gets 16 cores, possibly in a mix of powerful and efficient CPU cores.
These 3 factors will make ARM chips much more competitive from 2021, whether Apple uses them or not.
[Reactie gewijzigd door Balance op 27 maart 2020 09:31]