While ARM based system-on-a-chip (SoC ) have recently been making waves in the datacenter space with product introductions from many vendors including Calxeda, HP, and Dell, all of the products released so far share one common limitation. Despite the significant improvement in energy efficiency and server density introduced with these various vendors’ products, the entire current crop of massively dense ARM-based datacenter servers is using 32-bit CPUs, with the associated memory limitations of the 32-bit address space.
Semiconductor provider Cavium, who already produces lines of SoC processors based on MIPS and ARM architectures available in multi-core packages from 2 to 48 cores, announced their Project Thunder where they look to utilize their extensive SoC and embedded device experience to deliver a 64-bit multi-core ARM SoC based on the ARMv8 64-but design.
With a goal of building an entire family of 64-bit ARM SoC processors optimized for datacenter and cloud operations, Cavium has an opportunity to take advantage of the capabilities of the 64-bit architecture in the datacenter server space. Most development tools and appropriate Linux variants ar already available in 64-bit versions and the adoption of the 64-bit model further expands the options, in terms of performance and application suitability, of the dense-packed, power efficient, Arm-based datacenter server.
Cavium has yet to deliver any further details about Project Thunder at this time, but competitive pressure from the bleeding edge vendors in this market should provide sufficient motivation for Cavium to release details ASAP.