Google Mulls Designing Its Own Server Microprocessors

Google May Use ARM Architecture to Develop Own Chip

by Anton Shilov
12/12/2013 | 11:25 PM

Google, the world’s largest advertising broker and search services provider, has been designing servers for its mega datacenters for quite a while now to maximize efficiencies. The company has also used custom microprocessors from companies like AMD or Intel for the same reason. According to a media report, the Internet giant is now looking forward to design its own system-on-chips for servers based on ARM architecture.

 

Citing a person with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg news-agency reports that Google is mulling its own server processors using architecture from ARM Holdings. With its own microprocessors, Google will be able to better manage interactions between software and hardware; besides, the company will be able to add custom IP, various special-purpose accelerators, better manage power consumptions, performance and input/output capabilities of its chips. In addition, the company will also be able to tailor pricing of such SoC in accordance with particular needs.

Google, along with Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and a number of other companies, is one of the world’s largest buyers of server microprocessors. In case the company proceeds with the plan, it will impact revenue of Intel Corp. as well, but will give a large revenue stream to ARM Holdings.

“We are actively engaged in designing the world’s best infrastructure. This includes both hardware design (at all levels) and software design,” said Liz Markman, a spokeswoman for Google, who declined to confirm chip development projects at Google.

Earlier this year Andrew Feldman, general manager of SeaMicro and corporate vice president at AMD, said that the Internet giants could eventually order fully-custom or semi-custom chips designed for them from the ground up by companies like AMD or Intel, or even develop certain system-on-chips themselves.

The high-ranking AMD executive estimated that one could build an entirely custom chip using the ARM architecture in about 18 months for about $30 million. By contrast, it takes three or four-year time frame and $300 million to $400 million in development costs required to build an x86-based server chip based on a new micro-architecture.