Huawei opens data center in Moscow with ARM-based HiSilicon processors

Huawei has opened a data center in Moscow that runs on Kunpeng 920 processors from HiSilicon. It is Huawei’s first data center to use ARM processors. Due to trade restrictions, the company no longer has access to x86 architecture.

The TaiShan data center in Moscow is mainly aimed at the academic community in Russia, who can use the data center for developing open source solutions and supercomputing, Data Center Dynamics writes. Huawei is also opening the data center to other Russian customers. That should help Huawei to get a foothold in Russia.

The data center runs on Kunpeng 920 processors from Huawei’s own HiSilicon, which are made on the 7nm node of TSMC. The chips have an Armv8 design and there are variants with up to 64 cores, running at up to 2.6GHz, with a tdp of 180W. There is also an eight-channel DDR4-2933 memory controller in the chip.

Huawei’s data center uses ARM architecture because it barely has an alternative due to US trade restrictions. It can’t do business with Intel and GlobalFoundries, making x86 processors out of the question, and TSMC has stopped supplying Huawei since September. Therefore, according to Tom’s Hardware, the data center in Moscow probably runs on Kunpeng processors that Huawei still had in stock, but that would limit the scalability of the data center.

Huawei is investing about 1.3 billion euros in developing ARM applications to overcome the negative consequences of the US sanctions. According to the company, ARM can be a great alternative to the x86 architecture for data centers: “We see that in a number of scenarios ARM servers compete completely with solutions based on x86 architecture,” said Lui Yu, director of Russia’s Intelligent Computing System. Department of Huawei.

Huawei is not the only company using the ARM architecture for data centers. The fastest supercomputer at the moment, Fujitsu’s Fuguka, which is located in Japan, consists of ARM processors. Companies such as Amazon, Ampere and Microsoft also supply ARM CPUs for the server market.

The US trade restrictions have forced Huawei for some time to come up with creative solutions for its survival, now that it can barely focus on smartphones. For example, it focuses on the car market, with the announcement of its own electric car.