Ampere’s New 128-Core Arm Workstation Runs Windows

Ampere has quietly launched its Altra developers kit aimed at software creators for cloud data centers. Along with Dev Kit featuring the company’s system-on-chips with up to 80 cores, the Ampere also offers a pre-built workstation running its 128-core SoC, according to Joe Speed, the company’s edge computing chief. An unexpected twist is that the workstation can run Windows and even has driver support for Nvidia’s GeForce RTX graphics cards. 

The Ampere Altra Developer Platform (AADP) is a prototyping system for general embedded applications, but it can obviously be used for building software for the cloud. The machine can use a variety of add-in boards, including Nvidia’s GeForce RTX cards. What is a bit surprising is that it can run Windows, making it perhaps the most powerful Arm-based machine that runs the consumer-oriented Microsoft operating system. 

Given AADP’s Windows support, nothing stops software makers from trying to port their performance applications to high-performance multi-core Arm hardware and see what kind of performance they can get out of Ampere’s SoC. 

The AADP uses Ampere’s Altra Dev Kit, which includes a COM-HPC module powered by an Arm Neoverse N1-based architecture. The module has 32/64/80 Arm v8.2 64-bit cores that operate at frequencies of up to 1.70 GHz, 2.20 GHz, and 2.60 GHz. The motherboard supports up to 768 GB of DR4 memory and fully exploits the I/O capabilities of Ampere’s 128-core SoC, which offers three x16 and two x4 PCIe slots as well as a couple of M.2 slots for SSDs.  


(Image credit: Ampere)

When it comes to supporting Nvidia’s GeForce RTX consumer graphics cards, this is something unexpected as Ampere’s SoCs are aimed primarily at cloud and edge computing applications, whereas Nvidia’s GeForce RTX is designed primarily for gamers and content creators (when used with Studio drivers). Yet, the support does not come as completely unsurprised as, at the end of the day, Ampere and Nvidia work together on the data center front in general and the gaming data center part of it in particular (opens in new tab)

Anyhow, for now, Ampere’s AADP workstation is available for orders starting at $3,250 for a 32-core version with 32 GB of DDR4 and $5,658 for a 128-core version with 128 GB of memory. Meanwhile, the devkit itself starts at $2,003.