Above: Graviton-1 processor entered the market in 2018.
The Graviton high performance family of processors which may replace Intel and AMD chips in AWS cloud, are developed by Annapurna Labs, based in Caesarea, near Tel Aviv. The company was sold to Amazon in 2015 for about $350 million, and since then it worked in a stealth mode. But during the re:invent virtual conference held in December 2020 by Amazon, it was revealed that the Israeli team holds a major role in Amazon’s strategic move into a self-made processors and hardware infrastructures.
Andy Jassy, AWS CEO, said it is a long-term profram. “Our work on chip development allows us to be an innovative. We have excellent relationships with Intel and AMD, and these relationships will continue in the future as well. However, five years ago, we concluded that to bring our cost-performance to the edge, we need to develop ourselves some of the chips. That’s why we acquired Annapurna, and we set them to work. ”
Annapurna to develop additional Graviton processors
Jassy: “We started with the ARM-based Graviton processing chip. Customers got excited about it and used it much faster than we expected. It is a big deal. Today, we continue to invest in the development of new versions of Graviton.” The first Graviton processor came out in 2018 and was based on a 16-nanometer manufacturing process. It was AWS’s first general-purpose processor.
In June 2020, AWS announced the Graviton-2, which provides 40% cost-performance savings compared with Intel’s processor. At the conference call in October 2020, Amazon reported that Netflix uses servers based on Graviton-2. This new 30 billion transistors processor is based on up to 64 Arm Neoverse cores and is manufactured in a 7 nm process.
AWS infrastructure architect James Hamilton said that Amazon had built three dedicated servers based on the Graviton-2 processor: a general-purpose application server, high performance video server and a storage management server. According to Hamilton, it is currently the most powerful and efficient processor in the world operating in the cloud services environment.
Synopsys recently announced that it has uploaded the VCS chip design verification software to the cloud and run it on AWS Graviton-2 servers. Even Amazon plans to use this cloud-based service and has reported that it will use this online software to test its own SoC chips.