The big brothers to that ARM chip inside your smartphone are ready for servers. HP, with its ProLiant Moonshot server line, thinks so and so does German enterprise Linux distributor SUSE.
On July 14, SUSE announced that it was releasing a version of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 12 to its partners for 64-bit ARM server processors. With this new port, partners will be able to develop, test and deliver products to the market. Specifically, this build supports 64-bit ARM chips from vendors including AMD, AppliedMicro and Cavium along with server manufacturers Dell, E4 Computer Engineering, HP and SoftIron.
Why are they doing this? Well, as other Linux companies, such as Red Hat and Canonical have found, ARM promises data center and cloud users cheaper processing power. The core reason for this is that a 64-bit ARM powered microserver has a thermal design power (TDP) between 10 and 45 watts. By comparison, a conventional x86 server eats up more than 90 watts.
That's a big saving, but it's not just the power consumption of the servers. By using less power, ARM servers can reduce other data-center costs such as cooling. At a minimum, a 64-bit ARM server should reduce power bills by more than half.
This isn't just pie in the sky theorizing. Matt Eastwood, IDC senior VP of Enterprise Infrastructure and Datacenter, said in a statement, "Interest in ARM servers is growing, and the first ARM server units are already shipping into market. The technology is seeing early adoption today for specific use cases, and interest is expected to increase going forward. We expect that ARM will also have significant relevance to IoT solutions. The release of SUSE Linux Enterprise for AArch64 is an important step to helping to build a Linux software ecosystem around ARM server products."
To make it easier for their partners to work with ARM and AArch64, SUSE has implemented support for ARM and into its openSUSE Build Service. With this service, partners can easily build packages against real 64-bit ARM hardware and the SLES 12 binaries. This, in turn, will speed up their time to market
"SUSE has always been a leader in porting Linux to other platforms, and this program brings the same benefits and interaction to the ARM AArch64 ecosystem that our partners providing x86-64, Power and System z solutions already experience," said Ralf Flaxa, SUSE's VP of engineering in a statement. "SUSE's ARM partner program will provide ARM ecosystem partners access to AArch64-supported SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 software and expertise, establishing relationships that will result in supported enterprise solutions on different hardware platforms to meet a variety of customer needs."