Sometimes when you issue a press release, you need to blog about it to make sure everyone understands the significance of the moment and the news. In this case, Calxeda announced that Fedora had chosen and installed Calxeda-based Boston Viridis clusters (96 nodes) to equip the Fedora community with production ARM servers. This is their shiny new build environment… So, I was going to blog about it, but then read Charlie Demerjian’s article in SemiAccurate. ’nuff said. You nailed it, Charlie. Thanks!
Ok, most everyone knows that a “Moonshot” is something grand; something audacious and bold; and typically something very, very far away (252,088 miles away to be precise). But in this case, part of that distance has already been covered by the team that HP and Calxeda assembled over 18 months ago as part of HP’s Pathfinder Innovation Ecosystem initiative. In case you missed it, HP and its partners announced Moonshot servers on Monday, April 8, in New York City. While ARM vied with Intel for attention, many were trying to get a bead on the ARM aspects, since HP had already announced last year that “Gemini” would initially be Intel Atom based.. Here’s a snapshot:
- As HP has often reiterated, Moonshot is designed to be processor agnostic. They previewed prototype hardware from Calxeda, Applied Micro, and TI in addition to Intel Atom, which will ship first.
- Calxeda has fully functional quad-node Moonshot Server cartridges working at 1.4 Ghz in the labs (See photos !)
- Calxeda will be able to support HP’s launch schedule to ensure their customers have access to production-quality Calxeda-based Moonshot servers later this year, with up to 180 quad-core EnergyCores in the 4U Moonshot server chassis at 1.4 Ghz. That is 4 times more dense than the Atom server they showed at today’s event.
- As the Anandtech review concludes, Calxeda can deliver 80% better performance per watt that the best-in-class Xeon processor, even in a relatively CPU-intensive web application. Expect the HP system to enable similar value when it is ready for the test.
- Unlike Calxeda EnergyCore, Intel’s new Centerton chipset has not been generally available for testing. We all look forward to seeing how well it will do against ARM parts when it begins shipping.
- It is interesting to note that Intel felt compelled to announce Centerton’s replacement (Avoton) on the same day that HP announced support for Centerton,
Calxeda powered the very first Moonshot Development Platform, Redstone, announced in November, 2011, and is proud to be one of the founding members of the Pathfinder Innovation Ecosystem. In 2012, we began deploying Redstone systems in HP’s Discovery Lab, at ISV partners, and in HP’s customer datacenters. Our joint testing and validation work in these projects accelerated the ARM server ecosystem and enhanced customer’s understanding and comfort with ARM-based servers.
We proved that you can really build a dense server cluster with ARM processors. Yes, it is real LINUX, indistinguishable from any other server, except the exceptional performance per watt. Working together, we have met with scores of datacenter users and independent software vendors, working to understand which applications make sense on the first generation of ARM servers in Moonshot.
We’ve learned a great deal on this journey together. And now, we hover just above the surface, preparing to touch down with an ARM-based HP Moonshot system in just a few short months; the Calxeda cartridge is running in our labs and will be ready for production later this year.
Ready for touchdown? So are we! We’d like to thank HP for being a great partner, and for their courage to try something really new; something that deserves the name “Moonshot”. And thanks to everyone who has been testing Redstone systems for jumping on board early. But make no mistake; this trip is not over; it has just begun.
Anandtech Reviews the Calxeda ECX-1000: “Calxeda’s ECX-1000 server node is revolutionary technology”
I’d like to point everyone over to a great review of the Calxeda-powered Boston Viridis box by Anandtech that just went live, here. First of all, big thanks to Johan De Gelas over at Anandtech and Wannes De Smet at SizingServers for doing a top notch job pulling together an in-depth review of our gear as well as the team at Boston Limited for taking care of the hardware. Since we launched the ECX-1000 we’ve been beating the streets to get real results and metrics out into customers’ hands and show that the technology delivers as promised. With quotes like “Calxeda really did it”, “nothing short of remarkable” and “revolutionary technology”, we’re all excited to see these results posted on a site like Anandtech.
From Boston Ltd. Website:
Boston releases world’s first commercially available ARM as a ‘Service’
Hannover, Germany (March 5, 2013). Boston Limited, a leading manufacturer of high performance, low-powered server, virtualisation, storage and cloud solutions, is proud to unveil its ARM-as-a-Service (AaaS), powered by Breeze and ARM®, at CeBIT 2013. For more information and a live hardware demonstration please visit Boston at Hall 2, #A39, Hannover Exhibition Grounds.
IHS iSuppli Microserver Forecast: Mobile, cloud computing spur tripling of micro server shipments this year
Mobile, cloud computing spur tripling of micro server shipments this year
Driven by booming demand for new data center services for mobile platforms and cloud computing, shipments of micro servers are expected to more than triple this year, according to research firm IHS iSuppli.
Shipments this year of micro servers are forecast to reach 291,000 units, up 230 percent from 88,000 units in 2012. Shipments of micro servers commenced in 2011 with just 19,000 units. However, shipments by the end of 2016 will rise to some 1.2 million units.
The penetration of micro servers compared to total server shipments amounted to a negligible 0.2 percent in 2011. But by 2016, the machines will claim a penetration rate of more than 10 percent — a stunning fifty-fold jump.
Micro servers are general-purpose computers, housing single or multiple low-power microprocessors and usually consuming less than 45 watts in a single motherboard.
The machines employ shared infrastructure such as power, cooling and cabling with other similar devices, allowing for an extremely dense configuration when micro servers are cascaded together.
“Micro servers provide a solution to the challenge of increasing data-center usage driven by mobile platforms,” said Peter Lin, senior analyst for compute platforms at IHS.
“With cloud computing and data centers in high demand in order to serve more smartphones, tablets and mobile PCs online, specific aspects of server design are becoming increasingly important, including maintenance, expandability, energy efficiency and low cost. Such factors are among the advantages delivered by micro servers compared to higher-end machines like mainframes, supercomputers and enterprise servers — all of which emphasize performance and reliability instead.”
Server salad days
Micro servers are not the only type of server that will experience rapid expansion in 2013 and the years to come. Other high-growth segments of the server market are cloud servers, blade servers and virtualization servers.
The distinction of fastest-growing server segment, however, belongs solely to micro servers.
The compound annual growth rate for micro servers from 2011 to 2016 stands at a remarkable 130 percent — higher than that of the entire server market by a factor of 26. Shipments will rise by double- and even triple-digit percentages for each year during the period.
Key players stand to benefit
Given the dazzling outlook for micro servers, makers with strong product portfolios of the machines will be well-positioned during the next five years — as will their component suppliers and contract manufacturers.
A slew of hardware providers are in line to reap benefits, including microprocessor vendors like Intel, ARM and AMD; server original equipment manufacturers such as Dell and HP; and server original development manufacturers including Taiwanese firms Quanta Computer and Wistron.
Among software providers, the list of potential beneficiaries from the micro server boom extends to Microsoft, Red Hat, Citrix and Oracle. For the group of application or service providers that offer micro servers to the public, entities like Amazon, eBay, Google and Yahoo are foremost.
The most aggressive bid for the micro server space comes from Intel and ARM.
Intel first unveiled the micro server concept and reference design in 2009, ostensibly to block rival ARM from entering the field.
ARM, the leader for many years in the mobile world with smartphone and tablet chips because of the low-power design of its central processing units, has been just as eager to enter the server arena — dominated by x86 chip architecture from the likes of Intel and a third chip player, AMD.
ARM faces an uphill battle, as the majority of server software is written for x86 architecture. Shifting from x86 to ARM will also be difficult for legacy products.
ARM, however, is gaining greater support from software and OS vendors, which could potentially put pressure on Intel in the coming years.
Written by Shawn Kaplan, General Manager – Financial Services, TELX
Advances in multi-core computing have allowed far greater compute densities such that nearly all datacenter racks run out of available power far sooner than physical space. Traditional High Performance Computing (HPC) X86 clusters can consume upwards of 400W per rack unit (U), this means that a typical data center rack with a 5KW – 8KW circuit can be maxed out in as little as 1/4 or 1/2 of the available space. Many of today’s forward thinking IT leaders are asking “Why can’t I have both extremely dense computing and better power efficiency?”
As reported in various outlets yesterday, Intel has released their S1200 line of Atom SOC’s targeting the microserver market with the tagline: “Intel Delivers the World’s First 6-Watt Server-Class Processor”. The first notable point here is that they had to use 6 Watts, because 5 was already taken. The second notable point is their definition of “Server-Class”. Looking at the list of features on the Atom S1200, there are key “Server-Class” features missing:
- Networking: Intel’s SOC requires you to add hardware for networking
- Storage: Once again, there is no SATA connectivity included on the Intel SOC, so you must add hardware for that
- Management: Even microservers need remote manageability features, so again with Intel you need to tack that on to the power and price budgets.
Based on what Intel disclosed today, here’s a snapshot of Calxeda EnergyCore 1000 vs. Intel’s new S1200 chip:
|Cache (MB)||4 Shared||2 x .5 MB|
|PCI-E||16 lanes||8 lanes|
|Fabric Switch||80 Gb||NA|
|Address Size||32 bits||64 bits|
|Memory Size||4 GB||8 GB|
So, while the Centerton announcement indicates that Intel takes “microservers” seriously after all, it falls short of the ARM competition. It DOES have 64-bits and Intel ISA compatibility, however. Most workloads targeting ARM are interpreted code (PHP, LAMP, Java, etc), so this is not as big a deal as some would have you believe!Intel did not specify the additional chips required to deliver a real “Server Class” solution like Calxeda’s, but our analysis indicates this could add 10 additional watts PLUS the cost. That would imply the real comparison is between ECX and S1200 is ~3.8 vs ~16 watts. So roughly 3-4 times more power for Intel’s new S1200, again, comparing 2 cores to 4. Internal Calxeda benchmarks indicate that Calxeda’s four cores and larger cache delivery 50% more performance compared to the 2 hyper-threaded Atom cores. This translates to a Calxeda advantage of 4.5 to 6 times better performance per watt, depending on the nature of the application.
IEEE held their annual fest for uber-techies at SuperComputing ’12 this week in Salt Lake City. With over 8000 attendees flocking to the snowy site in spite of the economy and impending fiscal cliff, this event has become a mecca for anyone seeking the next great technology in computing hardware for serious work. In the old days, it was all about (Tera)Flops and Fortran. These days it is about Big Data, hardware acceleration, interconnect fabrics, storage, and green computing. Wandering around in the massive exhibit hall, one could see name badges from companies like eBay, Amazon, Peer One Hosting, and Dreamworks, right alongside the traditional attendees from leading universities, National Labs, and the Departments of Defense and Energy.
So, what’s a little core like ARM doing in a place like this? Its all about the data. “Data Intensive Computing” in HPC is pronounced “Big Data” in the enterprise. And the two communities have another thing in common: both are seeking more energy efficient solutions to large computations challenges. So naturally, they are turning to ARM with great hopes for the future.