The microserver space—a small but growing part of the larger server market—will be increasingly competitive. By the time the ARMv8-based systems are launched, Intel will be into its second generation of low-power Atom chips aimed at the space. Intel launched “Centerton” last year and later this year will release “Avoton,” which will be based on the new 22-nanometer “Silvermont” architecture, which promises greater performance and power efficiency.
In addition, AMD in May unveiled its x86-based Opteron “Kyoto” chips, also aimed at microservers.
However, Andrew Feldman, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's Server Business Unit, believes that ARM-based server chips could account for as much as 20 percent of the market by 2016. AMD, with its x86- and ARM-based SoCs and its energy-efficient server technology acquired in the deal last year for SeaMicro, will be a significant player in the space, Feldman told eWEEK in May.
A key factor will be the software ecosystem around the architecture, according to ARM officials. Lakshmi Mandyam, director of ARM's Server and Ecosystems unit, told eWEEK in April that the company’s collaboration with partners has helped drive its dominance in the mobile device space and will be a key asset in the server market, as will the growing use of open-source technology in the data center.
"Open source is the great equalizer," Mandyam said. "I don't think the gap [between ARM and Intel in server processor technology] is as much as you might think.”
Top-tier server OEMs, including Hewlett-Packard and Dell, are moving aggressively into the microserver space, and will rely on Intel, AMD and ARM to power these systems.
According to ARM officials, the agreement with Oracle will help improve throughput, efficiency and scalability in multicore ARM-based systems. It also will help in such areas as boot-up performance and library optimization, which are important for systems used in the data center and embedded systems.
"By working closely with ARM to enhance the [Java Virtual Machine], adding support for 64-bit ARM technology and optimizing other aspects of the Java SE product for the ARM architecture, enterprise and embedded customers can reap the benefits of high-performance, energy-efficient platforms based on ARM technology,” Henrik Stahl, vice president of Java product management for Oracle, said in a statement.