What Distinguishes ARM Processors From Intel or AMD

When choosing a VPS or a dedicated server, finding the right hardware configuration is one of the essential steps.

While it’s more talked about the storage devices, that is about SSD, NVMe, or HDD VPS, the right choice of the CPU is also not of the most minor importance.

he main options available on the market are presented by three major CPU brands Intel and AMD as well as ARM that has joined them not so long ago.

Today we want to have a look at the differences between these commonly involved processors to help you choose which one will suit best your project.

Some Background

Having to do with computers in any form, you have definitely started hearing about AMD and Intel processors many years ago.

What you haven’t probably heard a lot are ARM processors, which, in fact, are constantly progressing these days becoming increasingly present in certain niches. 

ARM processors didn’t however emerge from however – for many years they have been a major manufacturer of CPUs for mobile electronic devices.

What made them suitable for this role was their focus on energy efficiency which is crucial considering that mobile devices always work on limited batteries.

ARM processors

This was made possible by a different architecture – the RISC architecture that can be opposed to the x86 architecture in Intel and AMD CPUs.

In this way, ARM became the processor brand that is in the first place associated with mobile computing.

With the growth of the company, ARM started questioning the idea of extending its competence beyond mobile devices only and becoming an alternative to the monopoly of x86.

This intention found its realization in data centers and the hosting industry, where such aspects as energy efficiency and scalability are highly relevant.

This was the start of ARM’s collaborations with server manufacturers, dedicated to the development of more energy-efficient with higher core counts, and efficient scaling.

This way was, however, not free of obstacles, since decades of x86 provided that a vast amount of software was x86 optimized.

Nevertheless, ARM was supported in their undertaking by industry giants like Amazon, which led to extensive encouragement for developers to ensure software compatibility for ARM architecture.

This created a solid niche for the involvement of ARM CPUs, specifically in the areas where power efficiency and parallelism are top priorities.

This was especially relevant in such a promising area as cloud computing, where lower electricity bills and environmental impact are particularly in demand.

Nowadays both architectures are continuously evolving.

ARM is paying more attention to enhancing the performance of their CPU, while Intel and AMD are trying to make their CPUs more energy efficient.

The choice of architecture depends on specific workload requirements, power efficiency targets, software compatibility, and the balance between performance and energy consumption.

Now, let’s dig a bit more in detail, about what is similar and what is different between the two processors. 

ARM VS. Intel and AMD

Architecture

As already mentioned, the architecture is the main feature that distinguished ARM CPUs from AMD CPUs, with ARM processors based on the RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) architecture, whereas Intel and AMD processors use a CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing) architecture.

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What is special about RISC architectures is that they offer better power efficiency, simpler instructions, and reduced complexity, while CISC architectures (one of which is x86) are more focused on performance.

Power Efficiency

ARM processors are renowned for their power efficiency, which is particularly advantageous in server environments, and especially in cloud environments, where power consumption and cooling costs are significant concerns.

The lower power consumption enables increased density and scalability within server farms or data centers.

Customization And Licensing

Another special feature of ARM CPUs is that server manufacturers can design and customize ARM-based chips to meet their specific requirements.

With this companies can optimize performance, power efficiency, and features based on their workloads, leading to potentially more tailored solutions.

Scalability

Another strong side of ARM is the scalability they offer.

This is in many ways due to their modular and energy-efficient design.

This opens the doors to even more custom configurations and the ability to efficiently respond to challenging workloads.

ARM-based servers can be built with a higher core count, allowing for better parallelism and increased performance in scenarios such as cloud computing and virtualization.

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Ecosystem and Software Support

Since Intel and AMD server processors have been there for a much longer time, most software is now optimized specifically for them.

However, with the advancement of ARM processors, they enjoy the support of such major players as Amazon (with Graviton CPUs), so the software compatibility for ARM is constantly improving.

Performance

Traditionally the main focus of Intel and AMD has always been performance for high server workloads.

Nevertheless, ARM processors have made significant progress in recent years as well.

More recent ARM-based server processors demonstrate competitive performance, which is especially noticeable in multi-threaded and power-constrained scenarios.

What CPU To Choose?

The choice of a CPU should depend on what kind of project you’re running and what are its specific demands and features you want to emphasize.

As you have seen, Intel and AMD are more traditional options that have always put an emphasis on performance.

At the same time, ARM CPUs are rather tailored to provide higher energy efficiency and better scalability, with better support of multithread processes, which makes them better for such areas as cloud computing and virtualization.

However, all the CPUs are constantly evolving and provide increasingly better results from all aspects, so in the case of some simpler forms of web presence that don’t need extreme performance optimization, there you won’t feel much difference choosing one CPU or another.

At the same time, the realization of more technically advanced projects will require more careful consideration. 

Conclusion

While the market has long been dominated by AMD and Intel, ARM, previously specialized in energy-efficient processors for mobile devices, has not long ago become a new major player in computer and in particular server hardware offering in many ways different strong sides due to the different architecture used.

We hope that this article has clarified the difference between these major CPUs and now will be easier to you to choose one for your particular project.

Thank you for your attention, take care!

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