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Is Google Going To Make Its Own Processors?

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Google is considering designing its own server processors based on ARM technology, according to Bloomberg. The article sites an anonymous source and includes a caveat that Google has not made any final decisions. Google spokesperson, Liz Markman, said that the company is committed to designing the best infrastructure but did not remark directly on the ARM speculation.

Not everyone is convinced by the Bloomberg article. Ashraf Eassa, a contributor to Seeking Alpha, argues several reasons why the rumor may not be true, including Google's lack of job openings related to chip development and no visible attempts at acquiring an outside chip manufacturer.

Although no concrete plans have been confirmed, there are a number of reasons Google might want to custom build its own chips based on ARM technology.

Reason number one: power consumption. One of the advantages of ARM processor technology is low power consumptio's more complex architecture. ARM may be best known for dominating the mobile phone processor market, but ARM's Cortex–A50 brings 64bit performance, multiple cores and advanced floating point units -- all attributes you would expect in a server-caliber processor.

Reason number two: application-specific processors. Google could conceivably benefit from application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) designs. Text processing and search is an obvious example but there are others. A chip tuned for geographic processing could drive Google Maps; chips designed for joining and filtering would work well with Big Query and other data-intensive services Google might offer in the future.

Reason number three: economics. Google can relate to Henry Ford's famous quote, "any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black." Costs could be cut through vertical integration and standardization of hardware design. This is especially true when dealing with server deployments at Google's scale.

It's not known for sure if Google is adopting ARM technology for its server processors, but it is a plausible option. 

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James Sullivan is a freelance technology writer whose concentrations include cloud computing and video game development. He is based in Portland, Oregon.

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