June 23, 2020 / 1:12 PM / 9 days ago

Data center chip startup Ampere to release more powerful processor

(Reuters) - Ampere, the data center chip startup led by former Intel Corp executives and backed by Oracle Corp, on Tuesday announced a more powerful processor in its efforts to court cloud computing customers.

The Santa Clara, California-based company said its new chip, the Altra Max, will have 128 computing cores, up from the 80 of its predecessor the company announced in March.

The new chip will start shipping to some customers in the fourth quarter, with higher volumes expected by the middle of next year.

Ampere said the extra cores are important for additional security when chips are used in cloud computing data centers.

Ampere is trying to challenge Intel and Advanced Micro Devices Inc by targeting cloud customers such as Microsoft Corp, which is testing its chips, and Oracle, which has signed on as a customer in addition to being an investor.

Ampere also said it has produced test chips using a new 5-nanometer semiconductor fabrication process at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, which makes its chips, for processors that will be released in 2022.

TSMC has said it wants to build a $12 billion 5-nanometer chip factory, which industry insiders call a “fab,” in Arizona that could come online in 2024.

Jeff Wittich, Ampere’s senior vice president of products, said Ampere’s future chips could be made there if its customers wanted.

“As long as (TSMC) follow their standard practices, and industry standard practices, there’s nothing that would prevent us from running on 5-nanometer in an Arizona fab rather than a Taiwan fab,” he said in an interview.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; editing by Richard Pullin

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