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Arm in the cloud a trend now with Google Cloud’s embrace • The Register

Comment It’s been a rocky year for Arm. First, the British chip designer lost a financial boost with its sale to Nvidia killed by regulator scrutiny. Then Arm laid off staff as it made plans for an initial public offering, and now market conditions aren’t looking great for that IPO.

The good news for Arm is that the cloud world has been increasingly warming up to the alternative instruction set architecture. The most recent sign: Google Cloud’s introduction on Wednesday of its first Arm-based cloud instance, which the cloud service provider said will “deliver exceptional single-threaded performance at a compelling price.”

Meant for “scale-out, cloud-native workloads,” Google Cloud’s Tau T2A virtual machines are powered by Ampere Computing’s Arm-based Altra CPUs. This means the Arm-compatible VMs, available now for preview in the US and Europe, are meant to provide a strong performance-cost ratio for things like web servers, containerized microservices, media transcoding, and large-scale Java applications.

Google Cloud seems pretty stoked about what Arm can bring to the cloud world, given that it plans to let customers and partners try the T2A VMs for free under a trial period to “help jumpstart development.” Even when T2A becomes generally available later this year, Google Cloud said it will “continue to offer a generous trial program that offers up to 8 vCPUs and 32 GB of RAM at no cost.”

The T2A instance is part of Google Cloud’s Tau VM family that debuted last year with instances running on AMD’s third-gen Epyc Milan CPUs. The Arm-based instance type supports up to 48 virtual CPUs per VM and 4GB of memory per vCPU, and the networking bandwidth can go up to 32 Gbps. It also comes with a “wide range of network-attached storage options.”

There are, however, some limitations for T2A, which also exist for the AMD-based T2D instance: no support for extended memory, sole tenancy, nested virtualization, nor custom VM shapes.

While Google Cloud didn’t provide any performance comparisons to x86-based instances, Ampere leapt up and said a T2A instance with 32 of its vCPUs was up to 31 percent faster than Google’s N2 instance using Intel’s Ice Lake silicon with the same number of vCPUs. This was based on an estimated score for the standard SPEC CPU 2017 Integer Rate benchmark.

Using the cloud provider’s VM pricing guide, Ampere said a T2A instance provides up to 65 percent better price-performance than the Intel-based N2 instance for on-demand pricing.

What about the software support?

As the cloud world has been largely rooted in x86 chips for most of the time, it’s right to wonder how Ampere’s Arm-based Altra CPUs can handle a wide range of software.

To that end, Ampere is doing its best to give people confidence that its processors are up to various cloud tasks. In a Wednesday blog post, the company noted how “the Arm-based server ecosystem has rapidly matured over the last few years with open-source cloud native software stacks extensively tested and deployed on Ampere Altra-based servers.”


TrendForce: AWS to give Arm a leg up to 22% of datacenter servers by 2025


“For example, Ampere runs over 135 popular applications across 5 different cloud native infrastructures to ensure that our customers have confidence in the Ampere software environment across the marketplace,” wrote Jeff Wittich, Ampere’s chief product officer.

The startup’s server chips also supports several versions of Linux, including Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and CentOS Stream.

Wittich pointed out that Ampere has a section on its website with a large list of applications, programming languages, and other kinds of software that have been tested on its Arm CPU cores.

Google Cloud did manage to get testimonials from a few independent software developers who said porting their code to T2A has been easy.

“We were pleasantly surprised with the ease of portability to Arm instance from day one. The maturity of the T2A platform gives us the confidence to start using these VMs in production,” said Khawaja Shams, CEO of Momento, a startup providing serverless caching services.

T2A also got the nod of approval from the world of academia, with Harvard University Research Associate Christoph Gorgulla saying the “improved price-performance” of the instance helped his team “screen more compounds and therefore discover more promising drug candidates.”

Several major cloud providers now on the Arm bandwagon

With the latest introduction of Arm-based cloud instances, the British chip designer’s ISA is now supported by six of the world’s largest cloud service providers: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Alibaba Cloud, Tencent Cloud, and Oracle Cloud. Other cloud providers are getting behind Arm too, such as JD Cloud, UCloud, and Equinix Metal.

All of this means it’s very safe to say that cloud providers adopting Arm is definitely a trend now.  

This is a development that would have been unthinkable to some people a decade ago, as GitHub engineer Jaana Dogan put it on Twitter.

Getting Arm chips into server-grade environments, running operating systems such a Linux, has taken a large amount of cooperation between software and hardware worlds primarily to agree on and stick to a standard base of features and expectations in these computers. This has made building and running software on Arm systems, particularly server boxes, relatively boring: it should just work like x86 just works, and it seems to do so.

AWS also helped paved the way for Arm’s rise in the cloud with its decision to design an Arm-based server CPU in house using the talent it gained from Amazon’s 2015 acquisition of chip designer Annapurna Labs. The cloud giant is now on the third generation of its Graviton chip, which is available in Elastic Compute Cloud instances now and for which it continues to make big price-performance claims against x86 chips.  

That said, when considering all the other major cloud providers introducing Arm-based instances, plus some of the smaller ones, there’s one common element linking them: Ampere Computing.

Founded by former Intel executive Renee James, the Silicon Valley-based startup recently said growing support for its Altra processors by a variety of businesses and cloud providers shows that the chips are better suited for cloud applications than Intel’s or AMD’s.

Like Arm, Ampere is also planning an IPO at some point, assuming that market conditions eventually get better. If you’re curious about some of the ways Ampere’s chip designs are a good fit for cloud applications, we suggest you read our recent interview with Ampere exec Jeff Wittich.

While the cloud world’s growing embrace of Arm is a welcome sign for anyone tired of Intel’s dominance over the space, the question now is how long Arm and silicon partners like Ampere and AWS can keep this momentum going. After all, Intel and AMD both have plans to introduce specialized cloud chips in the near future, and who knows, maybe RISC-V can shake things up even further. ®

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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.

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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.

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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.

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