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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 MC68040 (462186) <.henric. .at. .digital-bless.com.> on Friday April 30, 2010 @05:09AM (#32042060) Homepage

    I can see myself using an ARM-based linux server in the home.

    If they get proper business support from some largeish vendor pushing out rack machines then that'd be great too. All the servers I admin currently run x86 from Intel. Saying that, when idling, they're not terribly power hungry; but arm boxes should be a lot better.

    Lowering power consumption is never a bad idea for your bottom line, as long as the performance-per-watt is acceptable. The first thing I thought was that it would be useful for larger clusters of machines if the performance isn't on-par with power6/x86 server chips. At the end of the day the deal breaker will be just how much performance you can get out of their server chips, which will affect what type of environment they're suitable for.

  • by Nutria (679911) on Friday April 30, 2010 @06:01AM (#32042230)

    Low end stuff.

    And the racks upon racks of servers that average 10% capacity. Why couldn't many of them be ARM-based? (Except for the fact that they run Windows.)

  • Re:MIPS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TeknoHog (164938) on Friday April 30, 2010 @06:17AM (#32042282) Homepage Journal
    You can get a MIPS64 netbook today, it's called Lemote Yeeloong.
  • Competition is good. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by robcfg (1005359) on Friday April 30, 2010 @06:44AM (#32042386)
    After many years, Intel finally has some challenge. And for those of you who doubt what ARM chips are able to do, I'll tell that I've been surfing the web and chatting through MSN Messenger on an Acorn A7000+, which runs on a 48 Mhz ARM 7500FE. Now, if they can raise that to 2ghz, I see very nice performance while still retaining a fairly low power consumption.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:22AM (#32042546)

    Notice that your reduced instruction set refers to (reduced instruction) set, not reduced (instruction set). Big difference there.

    If you look at current x86 processors, you will see they are actually RISC processors that emulate CISC. In other words, it uses the simpler instructions to build more complex ones. This adds two things to your x86 processor: Additional overhead on the emulation (either thru microcode or extra circuitry to decode those instructions, circuitry which could have been spent doing something else) and uneeded instructions, the complex instructions can just be replaced by the reduced ones.

    This is really a holy war, much like the *nix wars and the editor wars. There are both pros and cons to each side, personally I subscribe to the RISC school. All I can say is, the ARM9 Feroceon 88FR131 at 1.2GHz on my plug computer is capable of handling archlinux running a home server without a sweat or stuttering, streaming HD media and doing mySQL.

  • by fbjon (692006) on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:23AM (#32042562) Homepage Journal

    ARM cores have both cache and pipelines, y'know? But lets find those benchmark results by making them ourselves:

    Using one core on an AMD X2 2,8GHz and an ARM Cortex A8 core at 600MHz on a beagleboard, I've done some tests. Cache-optimized matrix multiplication of two matrices at 600x600 takes 0.45 seconds on the AMD, and 4.57 seconds on the A8. That's about 10x slower. However, the A8 (in an OMAP3530 package) produces just under 1W of heat. The TDP for the AMD is 65W, but since it's dual-core let's take half of that, plus an additional 20% fuzz factor because the TDP is the maximum rating.

    By this slightly fuzzy, synthetic but memory-heavy benchmark, the performance-per-watt difference is about 2,5x in favor of the ARM Cortex A8 core. One core of an AMD X2 would have to put out below 10W to beat the A8. By my fuzzy math that would mean a TDP of 25W or below for the processor.

    There you go, you're welcome! :)

  • by gmarsh (839707) on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:45AM (#32042668)

    I have a Marvell openrd-client. This thing has the guts of a Sheevaplug except it comes in a fancier case, uses a separate wall wart, has onboard video, more peripherals and a spot for a 2.5" hard drive inside.

    I've got a 500GB 5400rpm hard drive poked inside and Debian Linux installed, and it acts as a file server, music server, torrent downloader, etc. Pulls about 8 watts from the wall, though I've got video disabled, second ethernet disabled, etc. Couldn't be happier with the thing.

  • by cheesybagel (670288) on Friday April 30, 2010 @08:12AM (#32042794)
    That used to be true when transistors were expensive and memory was fast. The choice used to be between more CPU registers with less instructions (RISC) or less CPU registers and more instructions (CISC). Today transistors are cheap and memory is slow, so the more things you put on die (within reason) the better. It used to be that multiplication was considered too expensive to put in the ALU of a RISC processor, or barrel shifters, today this is simply not true. In fact even RISC processors have multiply-add instructions today (e.g. Power), more complex than what you see in even a CISC like x86.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:11AM (#32043784)

    Going off on a tangent here: The energy scarcity isn't purely due to political reasons.

    I live in Alberta, Canada, the land of low-hanging energy fruit (although not as low and as plentiful as the middle-east). We've pumped the easy oil & gas and have moved on to the harder stuff (ie. tar sands, heavier bitumen products, tight natural gas, etc.). We have had exactly two local political factors in our oil production history: The National Oil Program scare in the 70s and the recent move to increase taxation of Alberta oil and gas production. If you actually look at the production figures, it is very hard to see any impact from these two events. The middle-east's over production that caused the oil crises in 1973 and 1979 had a far larger impact, but the recent US real estate bubble's affect was fairly minor and short-lived. Again, I'm talking about production figures here. Our local economy definitely took huge hits from all of these events, but production soldiered on.

    I've watched oil & gas fields through discovery, development, decline, and closure. Politics rarely factors in. In all honesty, price hasn't been much of a factor either. Mostly, this is because Alberta's energy resources have been profitable despite price or politics. The major factor has been the presence of resources. If it's there, we extract it and sell it.

    The problem is we're running out of the easy to extract resources. So the margins are shrinking and politics is becoming a factor. As time goes on, politics will play more and more of a roll, but it will only do so because we are extracting resources with less luster.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:40AM (#32044114)

    A Beagleboard would make a great low-volume server, except that it lacks any way other than USB for connecting disks and network adaptors

    This seems to be the thing missing in all the low-power motherboards I've looked at. Atom, Nano, and ARM motherboard makers: bring on the SATA ports!! Right now, if your server needs some .. oh, I dunno .. disks, then your CPU socket will be AMx or LGAx.

    "Buy a NAS," some people say. Dude, you don't get it. It's a pretty much just a NAS that I want to build. Yeah, it'll be running a few more things than NFS but nothing demanding.

    Wanted: approx 10-20 Watt CPU+motherboard, to which I can plug in a Gig or four of RAM, 6 or 8 SATA disks, and ethernet, all Linux-compatible and ready to stick into some monster ATX case. Who will build this motherboard first? Why isn't it already on the market? Every home that contains a television, needs one.

  • by Nursie (632944) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:45AM (#32044178)

    What do you do with your server?

    Server doesn't necessarily mean "super-beefy computer in the back room", it can mean "file server for a small office" or "part of a web-serving cluster".

    Neither of these (nor a lot of other server activities) require either masses of memory or ultra-fast cpu. In many cases it's far better to reduce the power usage.

  • by Nursie (632944) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:47AM (#32044204)

    I too would like to thank Martyn.

    I used to run two NSLU2s, now I have a sheevaplug. His work enabled me to turn them all into debian boxes.

    How is the QNAP stuff? What's the core speed/RAM?
    Was toying with buying one but they were expensive compared to sheeva. Of course you have to get the disk caddy extra for the plug.

  • by gmarsh (839707) on Friday April 30, 2010 @12:31PM (#32045792)

    Mine came from Nu Horizons, an electronic component distributor - http://www.nuhorizons.com/ [nuhorizons.com] - part # is 003-RD0004.

    They're out of stock, but they seem to allow qty. 1 orders with a 2 week manufacturer lead time - you can try ordering one and see what happens.

    However looking at Globalscale's site, it looks like they've now depreciated the openrd-client and openrd-base, and now have the "openrd-ultimate" which has a PCIe slot sticking out of it where the SD card slot used to be, and a MicroSD slot added by the audio connectors. Nu Horizons might sell that instead, but I can't find it.

  • by raddan (519638) * on Friday April 30, 2010 @01:36PM (#32046740)
    If the rumors I hear are true from Microsoft developers, Microsoft is fully committed to moving their applications to the .NET platform. All of that stuff is compiled to an intermediate, interpreted bytecode that runs in a VM, just like Java. So actually, it is very portable. Portable enough that one of the applications I wrote in C#.NET and compiled in Visual Studio on a 32-bit platform ran unmodified on Ubuntu 64-bit with Mono. They may still do some low-level things here and there, but I suspect that if they really need to, they can port to another processor without having to reinvent the wheel.

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