Applied Micro, Canonical claim the first ARM 64-bit server production software deployment

Are 64-bit ARM processors ready for the datacenter? Applied Micro and Canonical claim they are with an upcoming demo of the OpenStack cloud using Ubuntu Linux on an X-Gene server.

X-Gene Server On A Chip
AMCC and Canonical plan on showing that the 64-bit ARM-based X-Gene Server on a Chip is ready for deployment. Image: Applied Micro

For a few years now, AMD has been saying that 64-bit ARM chips — yes those processors you usually think of as powering your smartphone or tablet — are going to play not just a  big role on servers, but on datacenters and the cloud as well .

On May 30, Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (AMCC) and Canonical, Ubuntu Linux's parent company, will seek to show that is real technology not vaporware at a pre-Computex demo in Taiwan.

Specifically, the two companies will be trying to show off Icehouse, the latest OpenStack cloud release using Ubuntu 14.04 Long Term Support (LTS) in a KVM virtualized environment running on an X-Gene-based server rack.

The X-Gene is an ARMv8 64-bit Server-on-a-Chip package running at up to 2.4GHz. It combines 10/40 Gigabit mixed signal I/O with what AMCC calls an enterprise-class memory subsystem. Compared to x86 architectures, AMCC claims that it delivers four-times the processor density while using less than 50 percent of the power and delivering comparable-to-better overall performance.

In the demonstration, the two companies will be deploying the OpenStack/Ubuntu stack using Canonical's own DevOps' program Juju and Metal-as-a-Service (MaaS) to orchestrate applications, databases and services.

Besides simply setting up the cloud, the pair will be deploying such cloud-applications as Elasticsearch, SugarCRM, Kibana, Logstash, Hadoop and MediaWiki. The point is to show that leading scale-out cloud services are ready to run on 64-bit ARM architecture.

"We are pleased to offer the first ARM 64-bit Server-on-a-Chip production silicon with full certification for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, including all the relevant server workloads and tools to allow commercial hyperscale deployments on X-Gene," Applied Micro's vice-president Gaurav Singh said in a statement. "The X-Gene plus Ubuntu offering means enterprises can now capture substantial TCO savings for their scale-out datacenters."

Canonical's vice-president of Hyperscale Christian Reis said: "We have delivered to the ARM ecosystem the ability to orchestrate server workloads at scale. X-Gene and Ubuntu provide a perfect platform for companies considering hyperscale deployments: outstanding performance, disruptive economics and fully automated management."

Following the demo, several Taiwan-based original design manufacturers (ODMs) will take the plunge. It looks like the promise of 64-bit ARM servers is finally starting to be realized.

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