Fabrics and the Software-Defined Data Center

Moonshot Cartridge

Calxeda has announced its second generation SoC, the ARM® Cortex™ A15 based EnergyCore™ ECX-2000.    This is the industry’s first ARM-based SoC enabled for full OpenStack clouds, Xen and KVM virtualization, and delivers twice the performance of the first generation ARM-based server SoCs. Calxeda will demonstrate the new platform running Ceph object storage and OpenStack  at this week’s ARM TechCon conference in Santa Clara, October 29-31.  Notably, HP has selected the ECX-2000 for an upcoming Moonshot server in early 2014. Calxeda also added a second 64-bit SoC to its roadmap that is pin-compatible with the ECX-2000,  accelerating the availability of production 64-bit Calxeda-based systems in 2014 and protecting customers investments.

While this is big news, there is a far more important story to be told.  The new ECX-2000 is just the next step on the journey to a far more efficient datacenter. This journey will fundamentally reshape the datacenter infrastructure into a fleet of compute, storage, networking, and memory resources; the so-called Software-defined Data Center.

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Java, Fedora, and Xen Support: All on Calxeda

With the allure of a good book on the beach stealing everyone’s attention this summer, you may have missed three important developments in the Linux community to support ARM in the datacenter.  The first was the announcement that with the new Fedora 19, Fedora has released ARM and x86 support simultaneously.  This was made possible, in part, thanks to a Boston Viridis build-farm installed earlier this year.  ARM support is now available in media and installer images for TI OMAP4, nVidia Tegra 2, and Calxeda ECX-1000 (Highbank).  This represents a key milestone in providing complete Linux packages for ARM based development, appropriate for customers who roll-their-own OS from open source.  (Note that the Ubuntu community already enjoys a fully supported enterprise OS for ARM, thanks to the work of Canonical Ltd, a long-time supporter of the ARM architecture.)

Next on deck for your summer reading pleasure,  is the release  of Xen 4.3 for ARM V7 and V8 architectures by the Xen Project, enabling hypervisor support for 32- and 64-bit ARM SOCs.  Once again, this work was done on a Calxeda-based Boston Viridis system.

Finally,  today ARM and Oracle announced the next phase of their collaborative relationship to optimize Javafor ARM-based servers and embedded SOCs, extending their work to 32- and 64-bit optimization:

  • Agreement will provide ARM architecture support for key markets e.g. data centers, network infrastructure and embedded computing
  • Oracle JVM optimized further for 32-bit products and ported over and optimized for ARMv8 64-bit
  • Additional areas for co-operation include improving boot-up performancepower savings and library optimization

Note that Oracle Java SE is a fundamental technology for all of the market areas mentioned above.

Ok, back to the beach…

HostingCon 2013: InterWorx Control Panel running on EnergyCore demo video now posted

Live from HostingCon, we’ve posted a video of Brett from Interworx demoing the Interworx control panel and clustering technology on a 24 server Calxeda system. To see the cluster in action for yourself, tweet @InterWorxArm and see what the cluster has to say. We’ll keep the twitter demo running until the end of HostingCon.

Check out the demo video below:


HostingCon 2013: See InterWorx Control Panel running on EnergyCore at the Calxeda booth

interworxHostingCon 2013 is right around the corner, so I’d like to give everyone a preview of the work that our partner InterWorx has done to get their control panel and clustering technology running on our gear. Ever since the spike in interest from World Hosting Days back in March, we’ve been working hard to enable hosting providers to create Calxeda-based offerings. A key part of that is the hosting control panel, and we’re pleased to be working with InterWorx on creating the first control panel compatible with ARM servers. With just a little bit of elbow grease, we’ve gotten the InterWorx control panel and clustering technology to run on one of our 24-node systems. We’ll be showing a live demo at HostingCon next week, so drop by the Calxeda booth (#905) to talk to us and the InterWorx team.

Inktank and Calxeda Partner to Transform Ceph Storage Solutions

CephToday, Calxeda announced a partnership with Inktank in which we will together optimize and promote Ceph-based solutions in the market. It’s obvious why Ceph has been gaining lots of traction lately: it has been selected by Ubuntu as an official package within their distribution, and also for its compatibility with OpenStack cloud deployments. What may not be as obvious, however, is why and how Calxeda enables “microserver” designs that are a perfect fit for distributed applications like Ceph.

As you might have seen from last week’s announcement at Computex in Taipei, two of the three debuted systems are targeting the storage server markets, with a few additional designs that can’t yet be disclosed. More and more system vendors and customers are starting to realize the synergy in new “scale-out hardware” built for this new emerging trend of distributed storage software. But why?
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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.

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Green Computing Makes a Giant Leap Forward …thanks to the iPhone?…and ARM processors!

Written by Shawn Kaplan, General Manager – Financial Services, TELX

Shawn Kaplan, TELX General Manager Financial Services

Shawn Kaplan

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?”

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What is a “Server-Class” SOC?

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.

[Read more...]

Comparing Calxeda ECX1000 to Intel’s new S1200 Centerton chip

Based on what Intel disclosed today,  here’s a snapshot of Calxeda EnergyCore 1000 vs. Intel’s new S1200 chip:

ECX1000 Intel S1200
Watts 3.8 6.1
Cores 4 2
Cache (MB) 4 Shared 2 x .5 MB
PCI-E 16 lanes 8 lanes
ECC Yes Yes
Ethernet Yes No
Management Yes No
OOO Execution Yes No
Fabric Switch 80 Gb NA
Fabric ports 5 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.

The World’s First 130 Watt Server Cluster

Boston Viridis Power Optimized Server Cluster Based on Calxeda EnergyCore

Calxeda’s approach to driving power optimization in the datacenter goes well beyond the processor.  We focus on enabling our partners to achieve rack level power efficiency based on our technology. Last week, Boston Limited announced their 2U Viridis platform with 24 Calxeda EnergyCore(TM) server nodes, 96GB of memory, and 6TB storage is measuring 130W “at the wall”. This equates to just 5.5W of power per server inclusive of memory, disk and chassis-level overhead.  At a fraction of the power of a traditional x86 server node, the Viridis server cluster based on Calxeda EnergyCore will allow datacenter operators to experience an order of magnitude improvement in efficiency. [Read more...]


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