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ARM-Based Servers Coming In 2011 253

Posted by timothy
from the leg-and-torso-on-the-way dept.
markass530 writes with this from the EE Times: "Arm Holdings chief executive officer Warren East told EE Times Wednesday that servers based on ARM multicore processors should arrive within the next twelve months. The news confirms previous speculation stemming from Google's acquisition of Agnilux and a recent job advertisement posted by Microsoft. East said that the current architecture, designed for client-side computing, can also be used in server applications."
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ARM-Based Servers Coming In 2011

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  • by del_diablo (1747634) on Friday April 30, 2010 @05:18AM (#32042092)

    Performance per watt.
    ARM gives performance at without massive cost of watt. Just scaling it up would mean performance.
    ARM already got performance on par with x86, but uses less then 10 times the power. Now, if people are stupid to make use of x86 for servers would not a upscaled ARM cluster beat the crap out of it? Uses less power, faster.

    And RISC means power, what buzzwords are you listening too?

  • by Nutria (679911) on Friday April 30, 2010 @05:21AM (#32042098)

    Does this mean I'll be able to run my 10TB Oracle data warehouse on this,

    Softpedia also points out that there was also no indication that the company plans to go head to head with Intel's Xeon and AMD's Opteron series

    Most probably not, and definitely not if Oracle doesn't generate ARM binaries...

    or would I more likely use them in my webserver farm to save on power bills?

    Instead ARM may limit its options to the print and storage server market.

    That's a possibility too.

  • by Nutria (679911) on Friday April 30, 2010 @05:26AM (#32042108)

    ARM already got performance on par with x86

    Pull out the benchmarks, or that's complete BS.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2010 @05:37AM (#32042136)

    I'd say that ARM is on par with x86 Hz vs Hz, or even better. The problem is that ARM is barely past 1 GHz while x86 is pushing towards 4 GHz. There are just now ARM processors with two high performance cores, while x86 processors are pushing past 12 cores and climbing. There are no ARM cores that I know of that does hyper threading, while almost all x86 cores do at least two way multithreading.

    So.. I'd say that we will be using x86 for high performance servers for quite some time still.
    However.. putting litterally thousands of low performance ARM cores in a 3U enclosure would certainly be good for some server applications.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2010 @05:39AM (#32042144)

    Depending on your needs you can already use ARM servers. This http://www.open-rd.org/ is perfect as a dns server, dhcp server, firewall, mail server or even a webserver on a small network. I really like using those devices as 'physical virtual servers': ideal as an isolated, task oriented server for tasks that do not need a full fledged server.

    I have one of these at home (with Debian on it and a 2TB hard disk attatched).

  • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Friday April 30, 2010 @06:09AM (#32042262)

    They can be excellent as fileservers/cloud stuff, given their performance per watt ratio, dont expect that a computing intensive task is run on them (they are barely 2-3x as fast as an atom in their recent incarnations, but at a fraction of the power an atom uses)
    but they are an excellent choice for io intensive cloud like tasks where you need a load of machines and have a vfs sitting on top of it.

  • by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Friday April 30, 2010 @06:36AM (#32042344) Homepage

    IOW, benchmarks or you're full of shit.

    Benchmarks are BS too. Better to check out the in-depth analyses in Microprocessor Report (that was certainly the source for this sort of thing back when I was doing this sort of hardware).

    Generally speaking (at a very gross approximation!) the biggest factor in speed seems to be feature size, and ARM cores run cooler than x86 cores. ARM have focussed on the low-power end of the market far more than Intel and AMD (who have been duking it out at the high-speed end) and this means that for some applications, their stuff is absolutely best. I don't know whether that's true for server-class computing; the lower power consumption will get better packing densities but whether that will compensate for the reduced computational power I just don't know.

    Of course, a good benefit in the "small server" market would be being able to run normal workloads without active cooling (i.e., fans) in a normal room. That would save loads on power and aircon. (And I know for one thing that there are ARM cores that can cope with very wide temperature variations. It's impressive when you see someone torturing a CPU with a hairdryer and – straight after – some dry-ice...)

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:00AM (#32042448) Journal

    MIPS and PowerPC. It ran competitively on most of these architectures, but the problem was always the missing third party software. If Microsoft just wants ARM servers for internal use, this wouldn't be a problem. Other people could probably manage too. Server software on Windows tends to be either written by Microsoft, open source, developed in-house, or provided by a small number of other companies. The first three mean it can just be recompiled. The fourth means that MS can apply some pressure to encourage an ARM port relatively easily.

    A lot of the win32 API makes stupid 32-bit-and-little-endian assumptions, so Windows hasn't been ported to any big endian systems (PowerPC and MIPS are biendian, and Windows ran them in little endian mode). The 32-bit assumptions are hacked in win64 by using an LLP64 model, which breaks the assumption that sizeof(void*) <= sizeof(long). This is not guaranteed by the spec, but since it's true for pretty much every platform in existence before Win64, a lot of people assume that it is.

    ARM is 32-bit and little endian, so userland Windows software should be pretty trivial to port. The only real difference you might notice is that ARM doesn't support unaligned loads, while x86 does (it's just really slow). An ARM OS can trap the exception caused by an unaligned load and emulate it, so even code that depends on it could work, just slowly. The only time you'll notice this in C code is if you are doing a lot of pointer casting - if the compiler can tell that it's an unaligned load, it will do two aligned loads, and shift-and-mask the results together. This is not exactly fast, but it's faster than an OS trap.

  • by david.given (6740) <dg@cowl a r k .com> on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:13AM (#32042498) Homepage Journal
    I am using an ARM-based linux server in my home.

    cowlark.com is run off a single SheevaPlug with some USB hard drives attached. This is: SMTP server (postfix), spam filter (spey), IMAP server (dovecot); web server (thttpd); Java servlet server (winstone, run in OpenJDK, interpreted. Yuck. No JIT available for ARM); my local news server (leafnode); my local DNS/DHCP server (dnsmasq); my local backup server (rsnapshot). It's also my main shell box for doing downloads and stuff.

    The whole hardware stack, UPS included, consumes about 18 watts, although this varies depending on whether the hard drives are spun up or not. Most storage is on a 64GB home-made SSD (4 x 16GB USB keys & RAID!), so it's completely silent.

    The SheevaPlug is a 1.2GHz Marvell ARMv5, with 512MB of RAM and 512MB of flash (which I'm not using). It cost me about 70 UKP. Unfortunately it's only got one ethernet port, so I've got way too much stuff hung off its single USB port --- and Marvell's USB hardware is notoriously dodgy. The new GuruPlug looks way more exciting: same processor, but two ethernet ports, more USB ports, and SATA!

  • OK (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:28AM (#32042598)

    I assume this is in response to the $200 Intel Atom based servers [supermicro.com] out there now.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Friday April 30, 2010 @08:48AM (#32043008) Homepage

    Thing is, quite cheap and rather small laptops based on Intel CULV chips showed up recently; some of them certainly can do 10h, perhaps there are some with 12h. And they are fast, if needed.

    On top of that, if I look at announcements of ARM netbooks - even though they will be purposely quite limited machines, it doesn't appear like manufacturers want a price reflecting that. Certainly not as long as there's not much competition yet, as long as they can offer it as a "premium" machine. Which has a big chance of killing them altogether...

  • by StayFrosty (1521445) on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:30AM (#32043372)
    The original XBox used a 700MHz celeron. The XBox 360 uses PPC.

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