Google unveils Arm-based data center processor, new AI chip

By Thomson Reuters Apr 9, 2024 | 6:36 AM

By Max A. Cherney

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Google on Tuesday revealed the details of a new version of its data center artificial intelligence chips and announced an Arm-based based central processor.


Google’s tensor processing units (TPUs) are one of the few viable alternatives to the advanced AI chips made by Nvidia, though developers can only access them through Google’s Cloud Platform and not buy them directly.

Google plans to offer the Arm-based central processing unit (CPU) called Axion via Google Cloud. The company said it has superior performance to x86 chips, and general-purpose Arm chips in the cloud.


“We’re making it easy for customers to bring their existing workloads to Arm,” said Mark Lohmeyer, Google Cloud’s vice president and general manager of compute and machine learning infrastructure. “Axion is built on open foundations but customers using Arm anywhere can easily adopt Axion without re-architecting or re-writing their apps.”


Rival cloud operators such as Amazon.com and Microsoft have built Arm CPUs as a way of differentiating the computing services they offer. Google has built other custom chips for YouTube, AI and its smartphones but had not built a CPU.

Broadcom has partnered with Google on prior generations of the TPU chips. Google declined to comment on whether it used a design partner for Axion and Broadcom’s involvement with the TPU v5p.


The Alphabet subsidiary said the new TPU v5p chip is built to run in pods of 8,960 chips, and can achieve twice the raw performance as the prior generation of TPUs. To help ensure the pod runs at optimal performance, Google uses liquid cooling.

The Axion chip offers 30% better performance than “general-purpose Arm chips, and 50% better performance than current generation x86 chips produced by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.


Axion is in use in several Google services such as its YouTube Ads in Google Cloud. The company plans to expand such uses and make them available to the public “later this year.” The TPU v5p is generally available via Google’s cloud on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Max A. Cherney in San Francisco; Editing by Marguerita Choy)