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AMD and Intel have a formidable new foe but you’ll never guess who it is

(Image credit: Panumas Nikhomkhai / Pexels)

An unexpected rival has emerged that could give Intel and AMD a run for their money, at least in the very lucrative server and cloud computing market.

Amazon’s new Graviton2 CPU has been tested extensively by Andrei Frumusanu from our sister website AnandTech, and the results show this new kid on the block outstrips the incumbents when it comes to performance per dollar.

Graviton2 was tested against two other cloud computing resources offered by Amazon Web Services: the m5a (AMD EPYC 7571) and m5n (Intel Xeon Platinum 8259CL Cascade Lake). Andrei found it could offer savings of up to 54%, which he says represents "a massive shakeup for the AWS and EC2 ecosystem.”

Fine-tuned for AWS workloads

So, how did Amazon achieve these results? The chip comes from Annapurna Labs and packs 64 A76 ARM cores - similar to what you can find in a smartphone - with 33MB cache and a high clock speed. Amazon is Annapurna Labs' only customer (as its owner), which means the processor is extremely fine-tuned for AWS workloads.

According to Andrei, unless you're tied to the x86 platform, you'd be “stupid not to switch over to Graviton2 instances” once they become more widely available for everything from VPN (AWS VPN) to web hosting (AWS Light Sail).

For now, expect AMD’s EPYC2 processors to put up a bit of a fight - at least until Graviton3 lands.

Desire Athow

Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Then followed a weekly tech column in a local business magazine in Mauritius, a late night tech radio programme called Clicplus and a freelancing gig at the now-defunct, Theinquirer, with the legendary Mike Magee as mentor. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global techfests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. He has an affinity for anything hardware and staunchly refuses to stop writing reviews of obscure products or cover niche B2B software-as-a-service providers.