Red Hat starts work on 64-bit ARM servers

Red Hat starts work on 64-bit ARM servers

Summary: Red Hat and its partners are betting that 64-bit ARM processors are ready for the data center.

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Red Hat, the Linux king today and the would-be OpenStack cloud king tomorrow, is putting its money and resources on the line by betting — with its ARM Partner Early Access Program — that the 64-bit ARM architecture is ready for the data center.

Red Hat Insigna

With partners such as AMD, American Megatrends, Inc., AppliedMicro, ARM, Cavium, Dell, HP and Linaro, Red Hat intends to achieve the following goals with its Early Access Program:

  • Provide participants with early stage development software, documentation and tools.
  • Collaborate with partners to create a singular 64-bit ARM server software platform that relies on common standards.
  • Enable faster innovation within ecosystem organizations, such as Linaro Enterprise Group, by providing a common development platform to enable deployment-ready future 64-bit ARM software.
  • Gather requirements around partner needs within the ARM ecosystem and use this information to create a unified common software platform capable of supporting multiple hardware designs.

This follows up on Red Hat's effort to create the ARM's Server Base System Architecture (SBSA), which is designed to help accelerate software development and enable support across multiple 64-bit ARM platforms.

Will 64-bit ARM and open-source operating systems and clouds really deliver the bigger server bang for the smaller power buck that has been promised for the last two years? 

Red Hat isn't just working on the theory of ARM server deployment. In May 2013, Red Hat showed, with its Fedora community-based Linux, that Fedora could work efficiently on a cluster of four 24 Viridis high-density ARM servers using Calxeda System Server on a Chip (SoC).

Dell and Red Hat showed by October 2013 that Fedora, which Red Hat uses to test out the ideas that end up in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), could work well on 64-bit ARM. For once, Red Hat isn't in the lead of an open-source technology deployment. Instead it's playing catch-up to Canonical, Ubuntu Linux's parent company.

Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (AMCC) and Canonical recently showed 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.

That said, Red Hat expects its ARM Partner Early Access Program partners to contribute to more streamlined and applicable implementations of 64-bit ARM standards and practices. Red Hat's partners believe that the combination of their hardware abilities and Red Hat's open-source expertise will lead to the adoption of ARM in both the data center and the cloud.

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Robert Hormuth, Dell's executive director, of Enterprise Platform Architecture & Technology, said in a statement, "Dell has been at the forefront of innovation in the development of low-power technologies and an integral proponent of open and standard based designs for decades. Enabling the ARM ecosystem will provide exceptional gains for our customers when it comes to performance per dollar and performance per watt. We are excited to be part of the Red Hat ARM Partner Early Access Program to help foster collaboration within the community and extend our deep expertise in developing workload-optimized ARM solutions."

Paul Santeler, vice president and general manager for HP Moonshot microserver datacenter solution, added: "HP and Red Hat have a long history of working together to deliver innovative open source and open standards-based solutions that enable customers to optimize Internet-scale applications, achieve breakthrough economics, and enable IT to support the rate and pace of business growth. We look forward to the role that the HP Moonshot 64-bit ARM system, which is ideal for software development and production workload deployments, will play in the Red Hat ARM Early Access Program and advancing the ARM ecosystem."

Will 64-bit ARM and open-source operating systems and clouds really deliver the bigger server bang for the smaller power buck that has been promised for the last two years? Can Red Hat become ARM data center royalty? We'll find out within the next year.

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Topics: Cloud, Data Centers, Dell, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Linux, Open Source, ARM

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12 comments
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  • Is ARM compelling for a server environment?

    Intel is closing the power gap. Even if that gap doesn't completely disappear, does it make sense to run a completely different binary platform to save a couple watts?
    croberts
    • One of things that has made ARM attractive for mobile,

      Also makes it attractive for servers:

      For Dell and HP, it's not about lower power, it's about supplier choices.

      ARM will license its processor designs to pretty much any manufacturer. This results in more chip supplier competition, and hence, lower cost per chip.

      In the x86 arena, AMD gave it a good shot for a while, but Intel is pretty much the only game in town for server processors. This means, currently, Intel can name their price, and there is not much Dell, HP, or anybody else, can do about it.
      anothercanuck
    • Power saving sure is

      My company's biggest portion of data centers' bill is power. Any saving on that front is welcome. The other thing is everything we are using in data centers (storage, links, RAM, CPUs...) sees price decrease year over year. Electricity is the exception.
      Herby Stoukette
    • if its only one server

      then it doesn;t really make sense to change, but if its a thousand then it all adds up
      deaf_e_kate
  • Go Canonical, Ltd.!!!

    Article:
    "For once, Red Hat isn't in the lead of an open-source technology deployment. Instead it's playing catch-up to Canonical, Ubuntu Linux's parent company."

    For those that have proposed that there should be one GNU/Linux distro, one open-source desktop environment, one open-source 'pick_your_thing', etc., competition amongst various open-source companies and projects is a good thing.

    The question is whether Canonical, Ltd., can hang on to its lead now that Red Hat (and, therefore, CentOS) is in the fight ...
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Last thing we want

    The last thing we want is to go back to a multi-architecture environment after finally unifying everything on VMware clusters.
    Buster Friendly
    • Not even if the ARM server's price is half that of a similar Intel server?

      I don't know if this ARM server thing will fly, but I suspect this has a lot to do with the lack of competition in the x86 server processor supply chain.
      anothercanuck
  • The more viable technology choices, the better

    It is good to see competitive alternatives to any Intel monopolistic position in regard Server Chip sets and ever Desktop and Mobile edge products.

    However, the involvement of Dell in this consortium for development of any Linux or non-Windows Operating System software standard is suspect, since they have in the past, and will most likely use this project experience and knowledge gained to pass along all pertinent information to Microsoft for their efforts in courting ARM Windows development, which on it's face seems an oxymoron of attempt to meld contrasting technological concept of efficiency with ineptitude.
    wanderson
    • Microsoft and ARM

      Microsoft is already there. Take a look at Windows Phone 8- and Windows RT-based devices. They currently run on ARM.

      As for competition, Red Hat, Canonical, Ltd., and SUSE all are either currently supporting 64-bit ARM servers commercially or are on their way to supporting them commercially (OpenSUSE, SUSE's test bed, got ARM 64-bit support late last year). There is, without a doubt, competition amongst these commercial Linux companies. However, from my perspective, Linux is a mono-culture, more so on servers than on the desktop.

      Thus, I would welcome Microsoft Windows to ARM 64-bit servers. Perhaps a good place for its server core product ...
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Go Moonshot!

    HP can put together more efficient and powerful scalable solutions!
    cdaringer@...
  • Windows 8 Smartphones/Tablets are not "Server" products!

    Since th article is "strictly" about ARM for Servers, for Rabit Howler Monkey (commenter) to say that "Microsoft is already there" in reference to Windows 8 Mobile devices indictes that he/she has a disconnect with the english language or for any understanding of what costitutes "Server" CPU's and Operating Systems (OS) which Windows 8 Smartphones and/or tables does not represent in any technological or mental capacity.
    wanderson
    • Microsoft is very familiar with ARM technology

      through its use with mobile Windows operating systems WP8 and Windows RT.

      The jump to a Windows server operating system, specifically Windows server core, will be a lot less than if Microsoft had no experience with ARM via its client operating systems. Remember that OpenSUSE initially offered ARM 64-bit support in November, 2013. How long will it take SUSE to offer ARM 64-bit support in SLES? There's still time for Microsoft to move into the ARM 64-bit server arena. If it so chooses.
      Rabid Howler Monkey