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Marvell announces 1.6GHz quad-core ARM chip

ARM's continued spread into the server market is picking up pace, with chip design licencee Marvell announcing its latest creation: a 1.6GHz quad-core chip aimed at cloud computing projects.

The Marvell Armada XP - for eXtreme Performance, apparently - is the company's latest ARM-based chip design, and packs four 1.6GHz ARM v7 MP-based cores into its diminutive body, along with 2MB of L2 cache memory.

Its server credentials are further enhanced with an integrated 64-bit DDR3 memory interface, including full Error Checking and Correction support, at an 800MHz clock rate, and support for four x4 PCI Express interfaces, multiple USB ports, four gigabit Ethernet ports, SATA, and a 'security engine' all included in the System on Chip design.

While the Armada XP isn't anything much in comparison to AMD or Intel's x86 server chips in raw power, its performance-per-watt characteristics leave its competitors standing: the chip manages a whopping 16,600 DMIPS at a power draw of under ten watts.

Full multi-processing support is included in the design, meaning that multiple Armada XP chips can be crammed into a single casing for a many-core server implementations - allowing cloud computing projects, that often need to run multiple simultaneous but not terribly computationally-intensive instructions, to meet peak demand in a tiny power draw.

Weili Dai, Marvell's co-founder, was upbeat about the potential for his company's latest chip. "Marvell's introduction of a powerful solution for enterprise-class cloud computing applications is a very important milestone in the mobile Internet revolution - cloud computing mobile servers like those powered by the Armada XP are the key link in what I envision to be a seamless, unified ecosystem of mobile connected devices, information appliances and smart 'furnishings,'" he claimed.

Marvell's latest chip design is indicative of the increasing presence of ARM-based processors in the server market - something that both Intel and AMD will be keeping a close eye on. With interest in cloud computing seemingly growing ever stronger, low-power chips such as the Armada XP could well threaten the x86 stranglehold on the server market.

Sadly, Marvell hasn't indicated when the chips will be hitting the mass market, although it has stated that it is sampling the Armada XP to customers now. Pricing, as ever, was not discussed.