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, …

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

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:

 

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?”

[Read more…]

Benchmarks vs. the real world: we vote for the latter

Back in June, Calxeda published web-serving benchmarks that claimed a significant advantage in performance per watt over x86-based servers. Using ApacheBench, a single 5.26 watt Calxeda EnergyCore server delivered 5500 transactions per second, compared to a 102 watt (TDP) Intel E3-1240 that saturated the network at 6950 TPS. About 2 months later, Intel spoke with Timothy Pricket Morgan at The Register to provide their response.

You have to hand it to Intel; they make really fast processors, which are appropriate when maximum compute performance is needed. But Intel’s argument is missing the point, the very reason why Extremely Efficient Servers are a promising trend: by right-sizing the compute, memory, and networking infrastructure to meet real workload requirements, one can save a great deal of money and power. Intel’s response is classic PC-Server era thinking: use a faster CPU, and then feed it like a force-fed goose being prepped for foie gras. In this case they added a 10G ethernet port to try to close the gap. But if 5000 transactions per second is all your website needs, or you use load balancing to handle the peak loads above normal usage, Calxeda is dramatically more efficient. That is the point.

It is a bit surprising Intel went to these lengths when Intel’s own math shows that Calxeda maintains a 4-5X performance/watt advantage versus the solution most websites would use. Apparently not satisfied, Intel then upped the ante and added an expensive 10 Gb network infrastructure to keep their uber-fast processor busy. With this configuration, Calxeda is still some 30% more efficient than the significantly more expensive* 10Gb Ivybridge solution. But small-medium web sites rarely use or need a 10Gb ethernet port; a 1Gb interface is usually sufficient for typical demand. Moreover, Intel’s proposed alternative would require two 10Gb top of rack switch (TORS) ports in addition to the 3 NICs (2 for data, 1 for management). Those TORS ports alone could add 10-15 watts per server for the 10Gb solution that were not included in Intel’s math. But hey, it won the benchmark (well, almost)!

Calxeda is focused on providing energy-efficient solutions for real-world problems and we believe that bigger and faster is not always better. Leaner and cleaner can be less expensive and far less power hungry, lowering costs for real-world workloads which can be highly variable. Which is more representative of your real real-world environment? You be the judge.

* Based on comparing the servers w/o disks to isolate the server-power, and adding 1 watt to each 5.26 watt Calxeda node to estimate wall power, assuming a modest 24 nodes in a chassis share the power supply and fans. Note that each Intel server equipped as Intel suggests would require a PCI extension with 10 Gb NICs, and switch ports; 2 for data and 1 for management. These are costly additions ($700 per 2 ports, plus the required 10Gb TORS ports) to the IvyBridge server, and of course consume even more power. We are still optimizing our platform and Calxeda will publish a slew of benchmarks and wall-power measurements in the coming weeks.

Oracle Java Update Shows Future For ARM

Yesterday, Oracle made announcements regarding a few product lines including a subtle “update” release for Java SE 7 Update 6. While only an “update” for the Java community, this release is a significant milestone not only for Calxeda, but the entire ARM ecosystem. Java SE 7 Update 6 now introduces a general-purpose port of the JDK to Linux ARM.  Here are a few of the highlights and some commentary on what this means for Calxeda:

  • With the addition of the JDK port to ARM (previously only the JRE was available), Oracle is showing their support and belief in the emerging ARM server market.
  • There is a 32-bit binary for the ARMv6 and v7 instruction sets, with both client (C1) and server (C2) compilers. That means that it a) natively supports the Cortex-A9 cores in our SOC, and b) provides a server optimized compiler.
  • The ARM architecture is now treated as a “first class citizen” by the Oracle Java SE team, which means it is treated like all general-purpose JDK and JRE binaries from both a licensing and distribution perspective (under the Oracle Binary Code License):
    • The ARM JDK is free for development and production use on general-purpose platforms.
    • The binaries can be redistributed for free with applications targeting a general-purpose computer/server.
  • With a fully supported version of Oracle Java now available for ARM servers, customers should feel confident about their Java apps running on Calxeda hardware. (While OpenJDK is available, we have seen Oracle’s JVM to be up to 5-6X faster in some instances.)
  • The one caveat that remains is that Oracle Java SE 7 remains “softfloat ABI” only, which means that it will only run on Ubuntu today with Calxeda hardware. We will have updated installation instructions for Ubuntu available by end of this week.

Oracle’s commitment to the ARM architecture is a great sign of what’s to come for this ecosystem. Looking into their crystal ball, they clearly see the opportunity before them and the alignment with their strategy. Henrik Stahl, Sr. Director of Product Management in the Java Platform Group at Oracle, said it best in his blog post — when asked why Oracle is investing in an ARM port and then giving it away for free, he replied: “We have a super-secret agenda. The idea is to enable Java developers so that Java can continue to thrive, and maybe sell some middleware on ARM servers down the line.

Calxeda EnergyCore-Based Servers Now Available

We spent a lot of time at various tradeshows around the world in June and the #1 question we were asked was “when can I get my hands on a Calxeda-based server?” I am happy to tell you the wait is over.

We have been working with Boston Limited in the UK, a highly respected  solution provider, for about a year to bring an excellent Proof of Concept (POC) platform to market called “Viridis”.  Boston currently has about 20 customers lined up for beta testing and a pipeline of hundreds of others interested in evaluating the platform.  Boston is taking orders now from users in Europe, Asia and the US with shipments beginning later this month.

The Register published a great article today highlighting the features of the Boston Viridis platform:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/07/09/boston_viridis_arm_server/

Boston Viridis is a perfect option for those users who want to port their code, run benchmarks, and optimize their workloads for ARM.  This highly configurable solution allows users to create their ideal initial testing environments with options ranging from 4 to 48 Calxeda EnergyCore server nodes in a 2U form factor.

We look forward to working with Boston and other systems providers to enable the market with Calxeda-based POCs.  Stay tuned as we learn about success stories users experience with Calxeda EnergyCore-based solutions over the coming months.

Apache Benchmarks for Calxeda’s 5-Watt Web Server

It’s the middle of June, which means we’re smack in the middle of tradeshow and conference season for the IT industry. We were at Computex in Taipei two weeks ago, and this week we’re participating in International Supercomputing in Hamburg, and GigaOM’s Structure conference in San Francisco. In fact, our CEO, Barry Evans, is on a panel to discuss fabric technologies and their role in the evolution of datacenters. Should be a good one!

In spite of the hectic season, it hasn’t stopped us from moving forward with what everyone is really waiting for: benchmarks!  Well, I’m happy to be able to share some preliminary results of both performance and power consumption for those of you looking for more efficient web servers.

[Read more…]

The Little (ARM) Server That Could

Two weeks ago, Calxeda publicly demonstrated Ubuntu 12.04 on the EnergyCore SoC, a monumental occasion for the ARM server industry.  The progress that’s been made by Calxeda and our partners over the last 12 months has truly been remarkable.  The journey we’ve taken and the opportunity afforded us reminds me of a famous childhood story, “The Little Engine That Could”; a story that teaches children about hard work and believing in ourselves.

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

(Spoiler alert: Essentially, there’s a stranded train that needs help getting over a high mountain. Some of the larger, more established, engines are asked to pull the train, but for various reasons they refuse. So they ask the small engine, who agrees to try. The engine successfully pulls the train over the mountain while repeating its motto: “I-think-I-can”.)

There have been naysayers who have, from the very beginning, doubted not only Calxeda’s ability, but the ability of an entire ecosystem to recognize and respond to an industry desperate for change.  And that’s exactly why the world’s first Ubuntu 12.04 demo on an ARM server two weeks ago was so exciting!  Together with our partners, we demonstrated the following on a Calxeda reference server:

  1. Fully functional web server powering a local copy of calxeda.com
  2. Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform via OpenStack
  3. Support for Canonical’s Juju and MaaS for system configuration and provisioning

Some people have recently asked me, “so, what’s the big deal?”  Well, I want to take a moment to provide some color commentary about these demos and, more importantly, what these demos really represent. [Read more…]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 989 other followers