Graviton is a family of ARM server chips designed by Annapurna Labs, a division of Amazon Web Services, to power EC2 virtual machines.
We believe Graviton deepens AWS' competitive advantage through greater scale economies, higher switching costs, and the ability to innovate faster due to a vertically-integrated hardware and software cloud computing stack. In Helmer’s framework, Graviton deepens AWS’ moat in three of the seven powers.
Historically, Intel’s x86 processor family dominated the desktop and server processor business. However, as mobile grew, its architecture wasn’t best suited to the smaller, more power-efficient processors required in cell phones.
X86 could not successfully run on mobile processors as it was too power hungry and had too much legacy baggage. X86 was one of the players in the 80s and 90s, but became the leading player in the early 2000s. The Assembly code we write today for X86 is substantively similar to the Assembly code we were writing for X86 20 years ago. That means the instruction set manual or the set of operations an X86 processor has to support could fill multiple phone books, which at the end of the day, takes up transistors and surface area on the die to support all those operations, which makes it very power hungry and inefficient. - Former Director at Google Cloud Platform
In the early 2000’s, Intel and AMD created hyper-threading to solve the x86’s power efficiency problem. This helped, but the architecture remained expensive and inefficient for both mobile and in data centers.
This paved the way for ARM to enter the market with a whole new architecture and a modern instruction set optimised for mobile and cloud computing.
ARM in the data center is more power efficient and not burdened by legacy baggage, and it's not hyper threaded. One VCP of ARM is actually one compute unit, not half a compute unit, which means you can saturate it fully and not have it sit there waiting because your workload is competing with itself for usage of the same resource. - Former Director at Google Cloud Platform
ARM’s market share growth is particularly timely today due to the growth in open-source and availability.
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