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Qualcomm's China JV licences ARMv8-A for server CPUs

First target is Middle Kingdom's Big Data province and its 2.5 million servers

Huaxintong Semiconductor Technology, the joint venture between Qualcomm and China's Guizhou Province, has advanced its ambition to build ARM-based server silicon by licensing the ARMv-8-A architecture.

Guizhou province has set itself up as a centre of excellence for big data and internet infrastructure. Top-tier Chinese telcos already host big bit barns in the province. Huaxintong is betting that those companies, and other Chinese outfits, have special needs when it comes to CPUs and will be happier shopping from local suppliers.

Hence the JV's formation and the decision to licence ARM's IP, with the express intention “to develop server chips that are more focused on addressing the needs of the Chinese market and cloud computing servers providing internet infrastructure.”

Those words come from Huaxintong's CEO Dr.Kai Wang, who also reckons that the decision to licence ARM will see the company “play an important role in the Chinese chip market.”

Huaxintong reckons telcos and others in Guizhou are already running 2.5 million servers. Abacus-rattler IDC reckons the world buys about 9.7 million servers a year, the vast majority running Intel's Xeon CPUs. If Huaxintong manages to replace Intel in just a third of the fleet it claims runs down Guizhou way, ARM will have done rather more than than kick Chipzilla in the ankle.

Intel's riposte to ARM's challenge is to point out that the Xeon-D can match ARM silicon for running costs and beat it handily on performance while offering a familiar architecture.

Others have previously opined to El Reg that even with Qualcomm's assistance, an ARM CPU is appreciably inferior to a Xeon and that anyone relying on the former is therefore depriving themselves of modern technology.

Why would China adopt inferior tech? One reason is that the USA won't allow it to import some Xeons. If China starts to make ARM chippery that threatens Intel's cash cow beyond the Middle Kingdom, The Register imagines some US legislators might start to be lobbied rather fervently about that situation. ®

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