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.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
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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