System Vendors Unveil ARM-Based Server Offerings
At SC 15, five companies announce servers running on Cavium's ThunderX SoCs, while Applied Micro announces new interconnect for its X-Gene chips.ARM officials at the company's TechCon 2015 show last week said that even though there hadn't been many high-profile announcements around servers running on the company's low-power architecture, there is a lot of work being done behind the scenes. However, between that show and the SC 15 supercomputing show this week in Austin, chip manufacturers and server makers are making their cases heard. Five system makers at the supercomputing show unveiled new servers that are powered by Cavium's 64-bit ARMv8p-A chip, ThunderX. That came a week after Applied Micro President and CEO Paramesh Gopi at the TechCon show unveiled the next generation of its ARM-based 64-bit system-on-a-chip (SoC)—X-Gene 3—which he said will compete for higher-end data center workloads. At SC 15, Applied Micro announced the X-Tend integrated interconnect technology that will appear in the new chip when it starts sampling later next year. ARM officials for several years have been talking about extending the company's low-power chip designs—found in most smartphones and tablets—into the data center, challenging Intel's dominance in servers. Company executives have said over the past few months that they expect to capture 25 percent of the market by 2020, but as yet, there are few ARM-based systems on the market, with Hewlett Packard Enterprises' (HPE) Moonshot systems among the best known. There hasn't been much in the way of news regarding ARM servers in recent months.
However, that has changed over the course of seven days. On the same day that Applied Micro introduced X-Gene 3, officials with EMC, HPE and Morgan Stanley talked about testing they're doing with ARM-based systems. End-user interest comes not only from a desire for low-power systems in the data center, but also for a second source of silicon for competition and supply chain reasons.