ADLINK Ampere Altra Dev Kit features ATX motherboard with 32 to 80-core Arm COM-HPC CPU module

ADLINK Ampere Altra Dev Kit is an “IoT prototyping kit” based on an ATX motherboard fitted with a COM-HPC-ALT Server Type Size E module powered by an Ampere Altra 32, 64, or 80-core Arm Neoverse N1 server processor, and supporting up to 768GB DDR4 memory.

It’s basically the same hardware as found in the Ampere Altra Developer Platform (AADP), but without the tower and power supply, nor optional features like liquid cooling or 10GbE interfaces.

Ampere Altra Dev Kit AADK

Ampere Altra Dev Kit (AADK) specifications and content:

  • Computer-on-Module – COM-HPC Server Type Size E Ampere Altra module with Ampere Altra 32 to 80-core 64-bit Arm Neoverse N1 processor up to 1.7/2.2/2.6 GHz (32/64/80 cores, TPD: 60W to 175W), up to 768 DDR4 ECC memory
  • Mainboard – COM-HPC Server Base carrier board
    • Storage – 2x M.2 slot for NVMe SSD
    • Video – VGA port
    • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack
    • Networking – 1x Gigabit Ethernet
    • Expansion – 3x PCIe x16 slots, 2x PCIe x4 slots
    • USB – 4x USB 3.2 ports
    • Serial – COM port (DB9)
    • Management – 1x RJ45 console port for BMC
    • Misc – Headers for 12x GPIO, SMB, 2x I2C, GP_SPI and IPMB
    • Power Supply – ATX or 12V AT power input
    • Dimensions – Standard ATX motherboard
  • Accessories
    • THSF-ALT-BL-S heatsink with fan
    • 2x power part heatsinks
    • VGA to HDMI adapter
ATX carrier board Ampere Altra COM-HPC
COM-HPC Server Base carrier board (left) and COM-HPC module (right) – Not at the same scale…
COM-HPC Server Base Block Diagram
COM-HPC Server Base Block Diagram
COM-HPC Ampere Altra block diagram
COM-HPC Ampere Altra block diagram

The system runs the open-source EDK II UEFI firmware and supports operating systems such as Ubuntu 20.04, Centos 8, or even Windows, as well as popular hypervisors and software. The documentation is not yet ready, but we’ve been told it should be updated within one or two weeks. You can already find “DOCS+” COM-HPC documentation that should have the same software documentation as other Ampere Altra hardware platforms from the company, and a tab specific to the Dev Kit should eventually be added to the website.

Prices are coming down. The Ampere Altra Developer Platform initially launched for $4,000 in 2020 in its minimal configuration (32-core, 4GB, 128GB SSD), but the same system is now sold for $3,250. The Ampere Altra Dev Kit is even cheaper due to the lack of memory, storage, tower, and power supply with three options offered on the i-Pi shop:

  • AADK Q32 – $2,003 for a system with a 32-core Ampere Altra processor
  • AADK Q64 – $2,518 for a system with a 64-core Ampere Altra processor
  • AADK Q80 – $2,621 for a system with a 80-core Ampere Altra processor

If you have a business case for any of ADLINK’s Ampere Altra platforms, you can have the ability to test a server with 5-day of free remote access. Ampere and ADLINK will also co-host a webinar called “How Cloud Native Processors are Revolutionizing Edge Computing” on April 26 in time zones convenient for North American and European users.

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19 Comments
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Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

They’ve made it very painless to pick up an 80-core CPU, should you have a business case for getting one.

Willy
1 year ago

Finally they made it! I’ll try to get one at work, the price is much more decent now!

I’m seeing that they’re also planning on offering the M128 with 128 cores. That’s even more interesting for development!

I’ll also have a look at the 5-day free test, that can be quite useful to validate various hypothesis.

David Jashi
1 year ago

IoT (Internet of Thing) became yet another meaningless marketing buzzword. What kind of “thing” requires single 80-core server grade CPU?

kcg
kcg
1 year ago

Well, some marketroids consider Edge (computing) to be part of IoT. I don’t blame them, those people would also like to have their living so they need to show some performance.
Do you remember when Grid was renamed to Cloud? And poor ANN to Deep Learning? That’s marketing innovation 🙂

Willy
1 year ago

I don’t see this used any time in the IoT space, but as a development platform for anyone chasing latency and trying to optimize scalability with lock-free algorithm, it’s wonderful. Also, given that the SoC has no less than 128 lines of PCIe gen4, that’s 2 Tbps of PCIe bandwidth that are just waiting to be exploited. “only” 48 are apparently exploited by PCIe connectors, but that’s already more than sufficient for plenty of use cases (e.g. we would probably order two 400G NICs if the extended speeds are supported to 25G).

kcg
kcg
1 year ago

Very interesting. So basically 80 cores ARM is now cheaper than 8 core POWER9 which is now sold by raptor for ~$3500.
If Ampere is serious about their open-source EFI, then this would be great.
BTW: there is a typo in the text, EDK II EUFI -> EDK II UEFI

Ghent The Slicer
1 year ago

IBM kit was never what I would call “cost effective”.

Joe
Joe
1 year ago

Does this run mainline ARM Kernel? Any info on GPU support for desktop usage?

enril
enril
1 year ago

You’ll be happy to learn about SBSA

Paul Jurczak
Paul Jurczak
1 year ago

Supposedly it runs Ubuntu 22.04.

Willy
9 months ago

It does. Ubuntu never finished pas “installing grub” and I had to reboot in single-user and create my account myself (why such a distro doesn’t ask you for the account creation *before* installing is beyond me). But now it works fine.

Jeroen
1 year ago

wouldn’t a amd ryzen or threadripper give a lot more bang for that price?

kcg
kcg
1 year ago

Both will be waaaaaay much slower — for aarch64 emulation. 🙂 — anyway, people in need of aarch64 already purchased their rpis, honeycombs or even apples. So this one is really kind of specific product.

Ghent The Slicer
1 year ago

Imagine you are a “cloud” provider and need to build a machine with this CPU and 12 NVIDIA A100s or some other exotic PCIe gear.

Or you are in the high frequency trading and want to try if this is a more cost effective solution than x86.

This is ideal to iron out the kernel driver porting quirks from x86 to ARM.

Willy
1 year ago

It depends what you’re looking for. If I need more than 64 cores for my use cases, it’s hard to find any CPU at less than $5-6k.

back2future
back2future
1 year ago

on that price level, it seems a ‘mostly’ justified decision what instruction set to support and what hardware connections to expect for an ‘IoT prototyping kit’, maybe it gives more performance on cpu comparison level for x86_64 with defined clock speeds, but also lower time efficiency on development for aarch64 tasks (either soft- and hardware compatibility related, esp. PCIe 4.0 (x16-x4) on cheaper devices even available?)
Probably there are no numbers for idling power (?)
(and me wondering about recommended hardware supplies? and maybe i’m on a wrong track, because of ‘COM-HPC Server Type’)

Willy
9 months ago

We received it and installed it (the 80-core 2.6 GHz version). First, everything is quite clean. The fan doesn’t spin too fast and the noise is totally acceptable in a room where one or two other servers are present (you wouldn’t want it on your desk however). Be careful, fhe board is long, it’s an extended-ATX format (EATX or SSI-EEB) and few cases are compatible, you need to find one supporting specifically this format. We didn’t want a case so that’s fine. Regarding the DRAM, make sure to read their datasheet with the list of supported DRAM sticks. Crucial 16GB… Read more »

Willy
9 months ago

Update: Thomas made me notice that after running sbc-bench, something unlocked the limit and it now happily reaches 2.6 GHz. I still have no idea what at this point, but the good thing is that we’re now almost sure it’s software-only so I won’t bug the vendor. Still a great product.

Khadas VIM4 SBC