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Intel Power Hardware

Gelsinger Shoots Down EMC On ARM 57

Nerval's Lobster writes "EMC president and incoming VMware chief executive Pat Gelsinger most likely shot down any hope that the company's storage arrays would be built around the ARM architecture. Gelsinger, who also helped orchestrate the VMworld show in San Francisco this week, presented an Aug. 29 keynote at the Hot Chips conference in Cupertino, Calif. Afterward, an audience member told Gelsinger that as many as 25 percent of all servers could be shipped around the low-power ARM architecture, then asked if Gelsinger agreed with that estimate. EMC previously shifted its product lines to Intel processors. Gelsinger told the audience member that the situation is unlikely to change, even if ARM could deliver workloads at a fraction of the power of an X86 chip."
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Gelsinger Shoots Down EMC On ARM

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  • duh (Score:5, Informative)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @11:38AM (#41178971)

    EMC arrays are already pushing more than what four westmere cores can do and they don't even have some of the cool features that the new breed of all flash arrays are doing (global dedupe and inline block compression). It will be a LONG time before ARM can handle todays storage workloads, let alone all the cool stuff they should be adding.

    • Re:duh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice@gm a i l . com> on Thursday August 30, 2012 @11:47AM (#41179083)

      Agreed - I read the summary and article more along the lines of "Company makes internal product design choice, ARM fan disappointed."

      Why is it news worthy what processor EMC choose? Are we missing something here? Did someone accidentally delete the paragraph which offered up something juicy, like "Gelsinger went on to shout the virtues of Intel, while his own personal Intel sales representative gave him a blow job and stuffed hundred dollar bills into his pants" ?

      Whoopdi-fucking-do that 25% of all servers could be based around ARM - does that immediately mean everyone that isn't using ARM should flock to it? Or does it mean that companies should continue to go on making internal decisions about their own products?

      • Ya well (Score:5, Informative)

        by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @12:21PM (#41179451)

        ARM fanboys are convinced that ARM is in every way superior to Intel and if only all the stupid companies/users out there would realize it then the world could switch and start the glorious ARM revolution.

        I've gotten pretty used to it on /. :P

      • Re:duh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Thursday August 30, 2012 @01:36PM (#41180275) Journal

        Here is what I don't get about these ARM fanbois...why is it that one product has to "win" and the other "lose". Its like what Jobs told the reporters when they kept trying to turn it into Apple VS MSFT "MSFT doesn't have to lose for Apple to win" and he was right, he was going after a different market.

        With ARM you are talking extremely low power, idles in the sub-mw range. That low a power draw has a cost and that's IPC. No way in hell the newest ARMs can put out even half the IPC of a 6 year old Phenom quad much less the new Intel cores. On the flipside X86 chips can't drop to the sub-mw idle usage unless you really strip down the core design like Brazos or Atom.

        Its different markets folks, its a scalpel and a chainsaw. This VS crap is just bullshit, different use cases require different levels of IPC, some x86 fits better, some ARM. That simple.

      • Re:duh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TopSpin ( 753 ) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @01:43PM (#41180391) Journal

        I was left to wonder who cared about what CPU EMC storage arrays use. Is there some EMC hacker culture with its own open source storage OS running on EMC devices? Where can I get one??

        Big storage needs lots of RAM. Intel has been providing 64 bit x86 CPUs, chipsets, memory controllers, etc. since 2004. I suppose EMC could license ARMv8 (the 64 bit extension of ARM that became available to licensees only about 12 months ago,) sign a contract with some foundry and design a system around 64 bit ARM. They certainly have the capital. If they did they would be the very first — there are no 64 bit ARMs being manufactured in volume anywhere yet.

        One can imagine ARM having some success in big storage. ARM cores can be extended with custom silicon to integrate important algorithms and they can achieve very high core density. Much of storage is embarrassingly parallel so peak performance of CPU cores isn't terribly important.

        Frankly I just don't think it matters much to big storage customers. They're paying for throughput, reliability, features and support, not an ISA. EMC could use 43 bit LISP processors soldered together by Taiwanese gnomes for all they care, as long as they can afford it and it performs.

      • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

        Well, one thing that most people are bizarrely forgetting is that Pat Gelsinger worked at Intel for 30 years, from 1979 to 2009... He was one of the main architects/designers of the 486 (parts of his work still being in modern Intel chips), and he later went on to be Intel's CTO...

        Are people surprised that he would favour Intel chips after all that? I mean, seriously.

      • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
        Really? You really can't understand why nerds would want to know what kind of processor a major technology provider uses? You don't consider it newsworthy unless there is a scandal? I find this new very interesting. If one want to know about blow jobs, there are much better sites than Slashdot.
        • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

          I don't consider it newsworthy unless it is news. A big part of the word 'news' is the word 'new'. There is absolutely nothing new in this article.

          • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
            Since the event reported on happening on Aug. 29, you are simply wrong.
            • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

              The event was new, but the event is not what is being reported on here.

              This was not an announcement of change in direction or anything else. Somebody with an axe to grind asked the guy if they were going to use ARM, and he said 'probably not'. That is not news. News is when something changes (or maybe was expected to change, but didn't), not when it stays the same.

              There is a reason why a 'news' reporter reporting that 'Generalissimo Franco is still dead' was funny - because it was not news.

              There is no rea

    • Re:duh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Necroman ( 61604 ) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @11:50AM (#41179105)

      Unless they are targeting a lower end of the market. If you look at the low-end NetApp and Equilogic systems, I'm betting those could be (and may already be) powered by ARM chips.

      One of EMC's competitors (Engenio, owned by NetApp now), had boxes in a variety of price ranges. The high-end boxes were all Xeons, while going down in price you would find PowerPC, and ARM chips (specifically XScale) inside.

      Also, running on low-power chips is easier if they have a secondary chip to do RAID 5 and 6 calculations for them (or if it's built into the main CPU as an add-on module. Intel actually does this now with some of their Xeon chips []).

      • by afidel ( 530433 )

        No, the low end NetApp uses an Intel processor and until recently it was the reason that nobody with any sanity would use their entry level array (the 2020/2050). There were all sorts of OS features you couldn't use because the mobile celeron in those boxes would bog down to the point of the storage becoming unavailable if they were turned on.

        If there's one box in my infrastructure I don't want to be underpowered it's the storage controller because a performance problem there affects every other system atta

        • If a mobile celeron does not have enough horsepower then don't expect ARM to come up and replace it (unless this mobile Celeron is P3 or maybe P4 era mobile celeron).

          As a point of reference, my 2.5 year old Atom server has over 5 times the single-threaded performance of my Raspberry Pi... and the Atom has 2 cores. Yes I know that my Raspberry Pi does not represent the fastest ARM solution available, but the faster ARM setups ain't 5x faster on a per-core basis either.. and that's just to catch up to an obso

          • Re:duh (Score:4, Informative)

            by jkflying ( 2190798 ) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @12:22PM (#41179469)

            It's worse than that when you need something that uses lots of cache, like Java. I'm getting ~100x better performance on my i5 laptop than my Pi when doing Java FPU benchmarks, and this is with the Raspbian (hardware FPU) release.

        • by Necroman ( 61604 )

          Well, the true NetApp stuff, yes, you're probably right.

          I was talking about the Engenio group (which NetApp purchased last year from LSI). They sold through channel partners like IBM, Oracle (via StorageTek who Sun bought), and others. Their low end systems used to run XScale processors, but that was probably back in 2003 or 2004.

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Also, running on low-power chips is easier if they have a secondary chip to do RAID 5 and 6 calculations for them (or if it's built into the main CPU as an add-on module. Intel actually does this now with some of their Xeon chips []).

        Incidentally, that's one place where I see a good market for arm - as generic RAID controller CPUs, replacing WYBIWYG solutions with open raid firmware that's extensible and maintainable.
        Need to support RAID 60? No problem, there'll be a module for that. Need to tweak for lowest possible worst case time at the expense of average time? No problem.

      • Re:duh (Score:4, Informative)

        by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@w o r f . n et> on Thursday August 30, 2012 @12:11PM (#41179319)

        Unless they are targeting a lower end of the market. If you look at the low-end NetApp and Equilogic systems, I'm betting those could be (and may already be) powered by ARM chips.

        One of EMC's competitors (Engenio, owned by NetApp now), had boxes in a variety of price ranges. The high-end boxes were all Xeons, while going down in price you would find PowerPC, and ARM chips (specifically XScale) inside.

        I could swear the NAS appliance sitting on my desk at home had the EMC logo on it. And I know it has an ARM processor in it, specifically a Marvell XScale chip. It runs a modified version of Linux, but it's an EMC box (and even has some approved for VMWare thing on it).

        So yes, EMC has gone ARM on the low end, specifically the stuff they market under their consumer brand as Iomega ("An EMC company").

        Plenty fast for the home user, probalby sufficient for a mom and pop company, but will be woefully insufficient for anything larger. But nothing wrong - ARM makes it cheap and decently performing.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Which honestly makes you think. If you're aiming at performance and higher markets, instead of home-consumer, would you keep an ARM development team, or re-purpose your developers to keep working on high performance devices instead?

          As someone pointed out, it's just a business decision, and if they think that's the path to move up faster, that's their decision. Not seeing why it's so much /. worthy except, as someone else claimed, this is only a troll to bring ARM fans to complain and cry about it.
          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            Well, I don't use any EMC stuff because for some loads (eg. lots of nodes hitting storage at once) you need a bit of CPU power, and a few cores help a lot, so currently a traditional file server gets the job done more effectively. It appears they are aiming for that niche now.
  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @11:58AM (#41179187)

    ARM fan is pissed off that IBM zSeries won't be using ARM processors either.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Remember! Gelsinger was a Senior VP and worked at Intel for thirty years.

  • by charnov ( 183495 ) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @12:35PM (#41179613) Homepage Journal

    In other news former CTO of Intel who has huge amounts of stock options says Intel chips are awesome! Seriously though, our tiny little SAN maxes out 8 Xeon cores and 16 GB of ram while running less than 30 heavy VMs (80,000 IOs on average). I don't see ARM in this space for a while.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @12:53PM (#41179775) Homepage

    If you have a rackmount case full of big disk drives front-ended by a CPU, the CPU isn't using a big fraction of the power. Nor does it constitute a large fraction of the cost. ARM is a 32-bit architecture. If you have a few terabytes in your disk array and 10Gb Ethernet going in and out. you might want more than 4GB of RAM in front of it.

    This sounds like some ARM fanboy thing.

  • ...require huge cache management (RAM) - I'm not sure if ARM is a fit for that.
  • Comments here all of course look at big stuff, servers that handle huge amounts of storage, that serve dozens of VMs for remote users, run busy web sites.

    Most servers are not like that. EMC may be an example of the high-end stuff but most servers in this world are low-end. They have to serve files and e-mail to maybe a dozen users, they have to store the media catalog of a four-person family, that kind of things. That's where ARM may be very useful.

If I have not seen so far it is because I stood in giant's footsteps.