There’s no question now that micro-servers; racks of densely packed system-on-a-chip (SOC) CPUs with appropriate memory and storage, are soon headed to a datacenter near you. Though first announced by new kid on the block type vendors, the major announcements for datacenter server powerhouses HP and Dell have taken microservers from the category of technically interesting to potential useful tool in the datacenter hardware scheme.
A report in EE Times this week disclosed that Samsung was working on ARM SOC implementations for release in 2014. Samsung is a licensee of the ARM v8 64-bit specification so that means we are likely to see these chips appear as 64-bit designs, as opposed to all of the current ARM SoC implementations that major vendors are using or announced, which are all still based on the 32-bit ARM design. 64-bit Arm-based SoC implementations are where the future of datacenter microservers lies.
In the case of HP and Dell, they are sourcing their ARM SoC solutions from other parties. In the case of Samsung, they are the gold-standard for ARM processors; especially those in smartphones, where they produce almost all of the CPUs found in the world’s bestselling smartphone lines (Apple, and not coincidentally, Samsung). Their Exynos multi-core CPUs are the cores of the most powerful smartphones on the market and their announcement this week of the next generation of those chips claims that they will have a performance increased over the current models and a 30% reduction in power consumption.
Samsung also announced last month that they would be building a new chip line for 20nm and 14nm processes, investing a not inconsiderable $1.9 billion in the facility. The reality of the situation seems to be that only Intel and Samsung are making this kind of investment in these technologies, at least on this scale, and it gives them an advantage over smaller vendors, as does Samsung still profitable DRAM production, which gives them yet another advantage in SoC production.