by Anton Shilov
05/18/2010 | 10:23 AM
Dell, one of the world’s largest makers of servers, plan to test machines running on multi-core microprocessors based on ARM architecture. The servers will be Dell’s first computers based on non-x86 microprocessors and will be aimed at the same directions than the machines powered by Via Technologies’ microprocessors released about a year ago.
“We have been all over this. About a year and a half ago, we put a LAMP [Linux, Apache, MySQL and Python] stack on an ARM A8 core in one test,” said Paul Prince, chief technology officer for Dell's enterprise products group, reports EETimes web-site.
About a year ago Dell already released ultra-small servers based on Via Technologies C7 microprocessors. The XS11-VX8 server addressed the need in hyperscale environments like Web hosting, Web farms and light load infrastructures for a high density, low power and 'ultra-light' server products. According to Dell and Via, in these applications general-purpose servers are under-utilized and inefficient, requiring expensive cooling infrastructures and using more energy than the applications require.
Dell's next step will be to benchmark multi-core ARM Cortex A9-based system-on-chip (SoC) aimed at servers from Marvell. Given that ARM processors are 32-bit, they are not able to address any high-end servers, but will serve applications like file servers within large data centers. In order to compete against low-power microprocessors, both Advanced Micro Devices and Intel Corp. are working on low-power x86 processors for embedded designs, which boast x86 performance, reliability, 64-bit capability and so on.
Interestingly, but IBM also believes that ARM may be successful in servers. In particular, IBM welcomes usage of Linux operating systems in the server space.
"We are going from an era of general purpose processors to application-specific processors, and now we will go from general-purpose computers to application-specific servers. People will start to examine these machines and they will tend to be more appliance-like," said Bernie Meyerson, an IBM fellow and vice president of innovation.