Applied Micro Unveils Next-Gen ARM Server SoC
At the show, ARM officials warned about focusing too much on what is known publicly, adding that there is a lot going on behind the scenes. In addition, opportunities in such areas as hyperscale computing, cloud environments, high-performance computing (HPC) and the China market are significant, the company continues to sell licenses of its designs and interest in ARM's architecture is growing, they said. "I'm comfortable with where we are at this point," Lakshmi Mandyam, director of server systems and ecosystems at ARM, said during a roundtable discussion with journalists and analysts. "There are a lot of proofs-of-concept going on with ARM." Mandyam also noted that the open-source software ecosystem around ARM's server designs continues to expand, both through the efforts of ARM as well as through industry groups like Linaro. The Ubuntu and CentOS Linux operating system distributions run on the ARM architecture, though Red Hat continues its support in a developer release. During the panel discussion at TechCon, officials with both HPE and EMC said they were building storage systems that will run on ARM-based processors and that both are testing SoCs in their labs. Mike Robillard, an architect and distinguished engineer with EMC, said his company has used ARM products in the past. The bulk of its systems run on Intel chips.Dave Preston, distinguished technologist at HPE, noted that in lab testing, using X-Gene with four solid-state drives (SSDs) provided 200,000 IOPS (input/output operations per second). "That's quite compelling for a low-power chip," Preston said. Bert Shen, vice president of technology business development at Morgan Stanley, said his company is testing an application on an X-Gene-based Moonshot system. The Wall Street business is looking to reduce costs as well as find a second supplier to Intel. "There are a number of users in the same position as us," Shen said. ARM officials also noted that they are running their ARM.com Website on ARM servers, giving the company a proof point for the architecture, according to CEO Simon Segars. "If we want other people to do this, let's do this ourselves," Segars said in a roundtable discussion with journalists. "ARM.com just works, and that's how it should be." The new capabilities of ARM-based SoCs, combined with the direction of enterprise computing, are working in ARM's favor, according to Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst with Insight 64. "I'm reasonably optimistic about the progress," Brookwood told eWEEK. "Obviously, it's taken a lot longer than anyone expected when they started talking about 64 bits." That said, the rise of hyperscale and cloud-scale computing has put greater emphasis on such metrics as power consumption, energy efficiency and open-source software, which plays to ARM's strengths, said both Brookwood and Matt Eastwood, senior vice president of IDC's Enterprise Infrastructure and Datacenter Group. In addition, end users are always looking for a viable challenger to Intel to help drive innovation and cost savings and to give them a second source of silicon. IBM, through the OpenPower Foundation, also is pushing to have Power be that alternative.
"This sort of feels like the next step in this relationship," Robillard said. "We fundamentally believe that choice is beneficial."