Huawei has capitalized on its Moscow, Russia presence to invest in the installation of an Arm-based server farm in the city. After a series of blows resulting from the U.S.-China trade wars, Huawei has looked towards diversifying its investments both from a market standpoint and a geo-strategic one. Now, Huawei's Intelligent Computing Systems Department has finished construction (opens in new tab) of its Moscow Arm-based data center - which the company said was the first such facility in Russia. Huawei said that "the computing cluster will enable our partners and customers to test their software products, to join the construction of a new open ecosystem", and help the company itself develop software on Russian soil.
The infrastructure is meant to solve demand from users who want to capitalize on supercomputing and open source software - one of the reasons why the new data center is mostly focused on serving the Moscow academic and scientific communities. The servers run on the company's Taishan infrastructure, which utilizes Kunpeng 920 processors developed by HiSilicon, the Huawei subsidiary responsible for custom-designing Arm SoCs. Kunpeng 920 SoCs feature Armv8 designs scalable at up to 64 cores running at a maximum 2.6 GHz under a 180W TDP. There's also an octa-channel DDR4 -2933 memory controller in the Kunpeng 920 silicon - it truly was Huawei's latest and greatest at time of its introduction.
The Kunpeng 920 Arm SoCs are manufactured on TSMC's 7 nm node, which already stopped deliveries to Huawei last September, following U.S. sanctions on technology exports to the Chinese company. This means that the server farm was most likely built using stockpiled chips. As for Huawei's foundry access after TSMC shut the company off, and without access to Intel or GlobalFoundries due to their ties with the U.S., Huawei has resorted to China's Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), which currently is only capable of silicon manufacturing at the 14 nm node.
This isn't the first time an Arm data center has entered the supercomputing fray; in fact, Fujitsu's Fugaku, an Arm-based supercomputer deployed in Japan, is the world's most powerful supercomputer, without ever touching the x86 instruction set. Likewise, Huawei Russia’s Intelligent Computing System Department Director Lyu Lu said that "The tests carried out have shown that in a number of scenarios Arm servers can already compete fully with solutions based on the x86 architecture.”
Huawei considers that Arm, too, is capable of a more widespread presence in the server ecosystem, porting over the power/performance benefits of a mobile-first architecture into the server business - and the company will do that one server at a time if it has to.