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Microprocessors powered by architecture developed by ARM Holdings have traditionally powered mobile phones and other low-power consumer electronics. However, in the recent years both ARM and its design partners, such as Qualcomm, expressed intentions to address higher-performance devices with ARM-based chips. According to the head of ARM such products are due out in the next twelve months.

“I would expect to see something out there [on the server market] within 12 months,” said Warren East, chief executive officer of ARM, in a conversation with EETimes web-site.

The chief executive of ARM first promised servers powered by various chips based on ARM architecture back in 2008, about two years ago, but so far none of the company’s partners announced anything. Moreover, the so-called smartbooks – personal computers in clamshell form-factor based on ARM chips – unveiled in late 2008 still have not take off too, primarily because large makers of PCs are cautious regarding them.

Nevertheless, the CEO of ARM claims that the company’s partners are working on multi-core implementations running at 2GHz and such chips can power servers.

“We are seeing people experimenting with multiple ARM cores on a chip. They have the option to use our A9 at 2GHz, and four cores. So people can do server experiments with the existing technology at the high-end of the road-map,” said Mr. East.

The head of the microprocessor technology developer declined to name actual implementers or parties interested in building ARM-based servers. He also did not elaborate whether ARM and its partners plan to compete against servers based on AMD Opteron or Intel Xeon microprocessors, or only intends to address applications like print or storage servers. Samsung Electronics, Texas Instruments and Qualcomm and the largest supporters of ARM.

"The architecture can support server application as it is. The implementations [of ARM] have traditionally been aimed at relatively low performance optimized for minimum power consumption. But we are seeing higher speed, multicore implementations now pushing up to 2GHz. The main difference for a server processor is the addition of high-speed communications interfaces,” concluded Mr. East.

Tags: Opteron, Itanium

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