A not-so-small step forward for ARM-kind

APMC

amd-stage-apu-13

Two major milestones were reached this week for fans of ARM-based server gear.   First, HP and Applied Micro announced the 1st production ARM server this week with appropriate fanfare.   Here’s an analysis by Paul Teich and Gina Longoria (another Calxeda Alumni) of Moor Insights and Strategy.   Second, AMD showed off 2 OS’es (RedHat and SUSE), 2 JVMs (OpenJDK and Oracle),  and Hadoop running for the 1st time on an ARM A57 based server at JavaOne.   As Harish Jonnalagadda of BSN noted,  “Adding Hadoop functionality to its software ecosystem is a natural move for AMD as its target clients will be looking to use its server clusters to process large data sets. The low-power nature of the CPUs make them ideal for processing large chunks of information and undertaking high I/O tasks.”

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Haswell E5 and the iPhone6: Why would anyone ever need more?

E5

Aiphone6s expected,  Intel® announced the Haswell E5 processor family for Servers and Workstations at IDF on September 9.  Coincidentally the event was just up the valley from Apple’s event announcing the (ARM-based) iPhone 6, 6Plus, and Apple Watch.  Between the two media-saturation blitzes, one could barely find coverage of misbehaving NFL stars or Russian would-be Czars in the day’s news headlines.  While few would connect these two events in any way,  to me there is  a common thread,  best summarized by my interpretation of their messaging:  “It’s a floor wax! It’s a desert topping!  Its everything you ever wanted,  and more!”   If you’ll allow me, …

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ARM Servers: Hype vs. Reality

b283e604-cfcf-11e3-a3f9-12313d1c3a13-mediumAs the ARM server market began to emerge in press and powerpoint, it was not hard to separate the hype from reality:  it was a lot of hype.  Spread by well-meaning advocates trying to change the world and give Intel a run for their money, these myths created unrealistic expectations on whether ARM chips are worthy of server applications, when they will ship, and how hard they will be to use. I applaud the early leaders including APM and AMD for their early efforts on 64-bit products.  While they have tried to balance their excitement and the uncertainty of semiconductor development schedules, there are nonetheless a few myths that need clearing up.  Here are six common ones: [Read more...]

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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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.

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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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

Posted on iSuppli on 08 Feb 2013 at 7:13am:

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.

micro-server 

 

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.

 

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’s a nice core like ARM® doing in a place like this?

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.

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Here comes the emulators! (EE Times Article)

Remember how smoothly Apple transitioned from PowerPC chips to X86 back in the mid 2000’s? Customers hardly noticed that all their software “just worked” on a completely different ISA, thanks to some cool software built by “Transitive”, a small UK based company since gobbled up by IBM. Well, emulation doesn’t solve ALL the worlds problems, and critical applications will of course need to go native for maximum performance. But this approach can be very helpful with the CAO, or Computer Aided Other; the ancillary but important applications, tools, and utilities that are so pervasive in a datacenter.

Below is an excerpt from the EE Times article, ARM Gets Weapon in Server Battle Vs. Intel.

Russian engineers are developing software to run x86 programs on ARM-based servers. If successful, the software could help lower one of the biggest barriers ARM SoC makers face getting their chips adopted as alternatives to Intel x86 processors that dominate today’s server market.

Elbrus Technologies has developed emulation software that delivers 40 percent of current x86 performance. The company believes it could reach 80 percent native x86 performance or greater by the end of 2014. Analysts and ARM execs described the code as a significant, but limited option.

A growing list of companies–including Applied Micro, Calxeda, Cavium, Marvell, Nvidia and Samsung-aim to replace Intel CPUs with ARM SoCs that pack more functions and consume less power. One of their biggest hurdles is their chips do not support the wealth of server software that runs on the x86.

The Elbrus emulation code could help lower that barrier. The team will present a paper on its work at the ARM TechCon in Santa Clara, Calif., Oct. 30-Nov. 1.

The team’s software uses 1 Mbyte of memory. “What is more exciting is the fact that the memory footprint will have weak dependence on the number of applications that are being run in emulation mode,” Anatoly Konukhov, a member of the Elbrus team, said in an e-mail exchange.

The team has developed a binary translator that acts as an emulator, and plans to create an optimization process for it.

“Currently, we are creating a binary translator which allows us to run applications,” Konukhov said. “Implementation of an optimization process will start in parallel later this year–we’re expecting both parts be ready in the end of 2014.”

Work on the software started in 2010. Last summer, Elbrus got $1.3 million in funding from the Russian investment fund Skolkovo and MCST, a veteran Russian processor and software developer. MCST also is providing developers for the [Elbrus] project. Emulation is typically used when the new architecture has higher performance than the old one, which is not the case-at least today–moving from the x86 to ARM. “By the time this software is out in 2014 you could see chips using ARM’s V8, 64-bit architecture,” Krewell noted. “That said, you will lose some of the power efficiency of ARM when doing emulation,” Krewell said. “Once you lose 20 or more percent of efficiency, you put ARM on par with an x86,” he added. Emulation “isn’t the ideal approach for all situations,” said Ian Ferguson, director for server systems and ecosystem at ARM. “For example, I expect native apps to be the main solution for Web 2.0 companies that write their own code in high level languages, but in some areas of enterprise servers and embedded computing emulation might be interesting,” he said.

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