New ARM moves closer to the datacenter

New ARM moves closer to the datacenter

Summary: High-performance, hardware virtualization, support for a terabyte of physical memory, multi-core, and low power. What's not to love?


With an expected 5x increase in performance, quad-core architecture, hardware virtualization technology, and minimal power requirements, the Cortex-A15 processor announced by ARM has the potential to be a proverbial game changer in datacenter server technologies.

While the specifications for the A15 are quite impressive, especially for the mobile chip market, the support for hardware virtualization and the ability to address up to a TB of memory means that the new chip can deliver an exponential increase ion computing power and flexibility to the datacenter when compared to previous efforts at building servers comprised of large numbers of low-powered CPUs. Expected features for server CPUs such as ECC memory support and the ability to recover from soft faults are part of the new processor.

At the product announcement, VirtualLogix gave a demonstration on one of Texas Instruments Mobile Development Platforms, of the A15 CPU running three different operating systems, (Ubuntu Linux, ChromeOS, and Android 2.2) running simultaneously.  While this is an entertaining demo for a mobile phone it highlights the reality of virtualization on the processor for the datacenter and server market.

ARM is also claiming a 10x increase in aggregated performance for infrastructure applications, with the 5x number applying to battery constrained mobile applications for the CPU.  If this performance increase pans out, Intel will be very hard pressed to get comparably performing versions of their Atom processors to market if they expect to have any chance of owning any significant percentage of the low-power computing space. And with the projected popularity of tablet computers and other mobile devices, this is a key space for Intel to gain traction.

This competition should be of benefit to the green datacenter market as low-powered CPUs in the right configurations start to appear to take on many of the tasks in the traditional datacenter.

Topics: Cloud, Data Centers, Hardware, Processors, Servers, Storage, Virtualization

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  • Intel will not be alone being very hard pressed

    Microsoft will be there, only completely desperate and hopeless because while Intel can still catch up Windows' chances are slim to none in the world of high performance computing.

    Three different operating systems to power high performance computing (Ubuntu Linux, ChromeOS, and Android 2.2) and one single kernel, the Linux kernel.
    OS Reload
    • We can see the fear in your words, OSReload.

      You know that what you post is false, so why do you continue to do so when we know you post out of fear?

      It is quite illogical
      Tim Cook
    • RE: New ARM moves closer to the datacenter

      @OS Reload Right. Because a MOBILE PHONE OS really is going to drive the supercomputers of tomorrow. (Strange, I looked and I just don't see any version of Android on the TOP500 list.) Try a real HPC OS like AIX, Solaris, Windows HPC, SUSIE or Red Hat. Heck, even OSX would be a better HPC choice than Android, or either of those desktop OS's you list.

      Try doing some research. Until then, your ignorance is showing.
      • ignorance is showing: "SUSIE" :))


        Is that your Girlfriend?

        OK, I must point out that OSReload also neglected the facts -- the individual nodes often run a flavor of Unix or Linux, but the nodes have usually all been "hacked" to provide new service interfaces which manage the Cluster. (The "original" was Beowulf/Scyld, but there are many others... Kerrighead, MOSIX, etc.) I'm amused that you list Red Hat and SUSE as the "real" Linux HPC Operating Systems. Most of these are Clustering enhancement packages are downloaded and built from Source, so Ubuntu is an equally excellent choice. (The one Distro for which Kerrighead provides fully built RPMs is none of the above-- it's Mandriva.)

        Also in reply to the parent: Intel doesn't need to write an OS to play a role in HPC; due to their chips providing multicore with multi-Thread capabilities in each, they're extremely attractive.

        And Microsoft? They're not "worried" about ARM, they're an ARM partner! On phones, HTC (and several other big manufacturers) consider Microsoft to be a strategic partner. They've built and sold some incredibly slick-looking phones on top of bug-riddled, 2003-technology WinMo 6.x. (Too bad those models froze up, requiring a hard reset every few minutes. But that's MinMo V6... and HTC already had your money by the time you realized that the phone utterly sucked.)

        My point is that Microsoft will be delighted to have WM 7 (ahem) "Windows Phone 7.x" running on all those ARM-based smartphones. Unless they've done "Windows-ME" all over again, they'll win a lot of business with the new version-- and many of those phones will be ARM-based.

        What does ARM in phones have to do with HPC? almost nothing... The critical enabling technology for HPC are the interconnects (in particular, AMBA AXI). Some of those supercomputer people are likely to take that technology and write Beowulf-like software to manage it more smartly.

        But David's article touches on both subjects (HPC and single-chip implementations). This is much worse for Intel: If Atom can't compete in the mobile space, it very likely becomes another "Itanic". This particular competitor has made a great leap forwards, while Intel hasn't released anything new/better in a long time. (They still require a minimum of two chips; they still don't support DDR3 memory; and etc.)

        Android would need some significant changes to become an HPC platform, but it's very possible that Google has done those things already - using a "Cluster-enhanced" version of the Android platform within their own Datacenters. Who knows?
        Rick S._z
  • None of You Have Any Clue!

    It would seem that none of you remember any of the past instances where AMD, Motorolla, TI, etc. released products that were to compete with Intel products. Every time this has happens over the last 2 decades, Intel always shortly comes out with a competing product that's at least as good as those offered by the newcomers!<br>This is because Intel develops technology and then lets it sit on a shelf till it's marketing time has come.

    I'm fairly sure Intel has something in the wings ready to replace it's existing Atom line-up, however as Intel has often done, they won't release it till a competing product comes out. This is all especially true in bad economic times like we are in right now. Intel does this to maximize ROI on any product it produces and keeps marking the same products until they are pressured by another products or they reach way beyond what Intel feels they need in sales for the ROI they wanted when the products (like the Atom) were first developed, marketed and released.

    Make no mistake this is just very savvy business practice on Intels part and I have no doubt Intel already has faster more powerful Atom processors just waiting in the wings, and that they will soon Announce, Market and release the new Atom (or some other named) processors to the public!
    • Atoms versus ARMs

      Atom is not (yet) a very competitive product, because it's SOC implementations still require too darn many chips- and some of them consume a lot of power. If you *really* think that Intel is pleased with the sales levels, market share, and ROI which the Atom product line has achieved, then you're just not paying attention.

      Intel has the best manufacturing technology, but TI and other ARM partners win anyway -- mostly because the instruction set needs vastly fewer transistors to implement, and because the interface designs are so good. (Atom does x86, and spends a lot of power and 'Real Estate' to translate x86 into the the actual operations which the chips perform Atom is a RISC chip which emulates x86; in contrast, ARM and Thumb are native RISC instruction sets.) ARM is also much faster and more efficient, at switching in and out of standby mode; and large areas of the chips are left inactive during most instruction sequences. Intel has huge resources, and could eventually have these chips everywhere- cellphones, microwaves, TVs, refrigerators, Netbooks, automobiles, GPS devices, and so on. But IMO, it won't happen with the product set which they're selling now. They cost too much, and perform too badly.
      Rick S._z
    • RE: New ARM moves closer to the datacenter

      "Make no mistake this is just very savvy business practice on Intels part and I have no doubt Intel already has faster more powerful Atom processors just waiting in the wings, and that they will soon Announce, Market and release the new Atom (or some other named) processors to the public!"

      And that is what makes me go out of my way to look at non Intel solutions! What an arrogant statement!!!!
      I am Gorby
  • What are you talking about!? High performance computing?

    @OS Reload The new revolution in computing is... adequate performance for low powered(cost to run) IT. High Performance Computing is only necessary for a small percentage of the IT market. Most need file serving, authentication, mail and maybe some internet serving.

    You are pushing your Linux favorites! I don't care! I have recently noticed that ordinary users don't need high performance computers! I have posted a few times about how normal client computing doesn't need even close to the current computing power. What would happen if it was discovered that most servers don't need to be so powerful??? ;-/

    In this modern time that, maybe, needs to look at its consuming tendencies; we should look at every need.

    Ha! Do you all drive a diesel prime mover? NO! We buy our consumer cars. We have been blustered by PR and media to get the biggest and the best. Both in card and PC! But it isn't necessary! We can get, more than adequate, "performance", with FAR BETTER economy (less electricity, heat, usage, money...)
    I am Gorby
  • RE: New ARM moves closer to the datacenter

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