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ARM Server Update, Spring 2018

Continuing on with our quarterly updates to the ARM Server ecosystem, as usual there is quite a bit of news to report on!  Let’s dive right in to the analysis!

The Qualcomm Centriq continues to make headlines, with the first design win recently announced.  Hatch, a cloud gaming company, has chosen the Centriq 2400 to power it’s cloud gaming platform.  More information is available here:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/tiriasresearch/2018/02/20/hatch-qdt-cloud-gaming/

Qualcomm is also in the news for another reason as well.  Broadcom, another chip maker, has launched a hostile bid to takeover Qualcomm, although Qualcomm has thus far held off their unwanted pursuit, and is attempting to remain independent.  Consolidation in the chip maker space has been picking up in recent years, with the NXP purchase of Freescale, Intel buying Altera, Macom purchasing Applied Micro, and many more.

Which leads to the next news in the industry:  Macom had recently quietly sold off the Applied Micro assets to a secretively named buyer, known only as Project Denver Holdings.  However, they have now formed a new organization, called Ampere, who will continue on with the development and marketing of the X-Gene line of ARM Server processors.  More info on Ampere can be found here:  https://amperecomputing.com/

Finally, Linaro’s 96Boards team has brought to market a development workstation conforming to their Enterprise Edition standards.  The newly launched workstation features a 24-core Socionext Synquacer SoC, plus a hard drive, memory, and video card to round out the system.  It is currently listed for sale at $1,250, so it is not cheap, but it does fulfill a niched that has been underserved in the market.  It can be purchased here:  http://www.chip1stop.com/web/USA/en/search.do?dispPartIds=SOCI-0000001

 

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Qualcomm Centriq 2400 ARM Server Processor

Qualcomm has announced their new ARM Server processor, called the Centriq 2400, which is designed for high efficiency processing and is capable of handling datacenter workloads.  While Cavium, AMD, and Applied Micro all have ARM Server processors, Qualcomm’s new processor is the first to be built on a 10-nanometer manufacturing process.  It will be able to handle cloud software stacks now that the software ecosystem has matured, and should be able to compete with Xeon offerings as the hyperscalers like Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba, and China Mobile build out next generation datacenters.

Qualcomm has lots of experience of course developing, manufacturing, and selling ARM processors via their Snapdragon line of cell phone chips, so they do have an edge on the competition as vendors like Cavium and Applied Micro don’t have the same experience and relationships already built.  Additionally, Qualcomm can leverage some synergies with the Snapdragon 820 and 835, albeit they definitely have their differences.

With another vendor now entering the ARM Server marketplace (and a major one at that), the future is looking bright for ARM gaining more traction and making inroads in the datacenter.

 

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ARM Server Linux Update, June 2016

As usual, a lot has changed in just a short time since our last update.  Here are some of the highlights from industry news.

First and foremost, the RaspberryPi 3 has continued to be the most popular ARM single board computer.  It now includes WiFi and Bluetooth, and the official Raspbian operating system has been upgraded to include support for the new features.  While it has a 64-bit processor, for the time being it still uses a 32-bit operating system.

Just a few days ago, we got some detail on the Cavium ThunderX2 processor that is forthcoming.  This is an enterprise-grade processor that will have 54 cores and support up to 100gb of ethernet bandwidth.  It will deliver 2x to 3x the performance of the current ThunderX processor, and should be able to compete head-to-head with Xeon’s in many workloads.

Finally, the Pine64 has been shipping in volume now, with most Kickstarter backers having received their boards.  The Pine64 is based on a 64-bit Allwinner A64 processor, which is not the most powerful around, but it sets a new low-price for 64-bit ARM hardware.  At just $15 for the entry level Pine64, the price of 64-bit ARM hardware has dropped from $3,000 to $15 in the course of about 1 year.  Talk about rapid innovation!

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Update: Latest Progress in the ARM Server Industry

Its no secret that at miniNodes, we are ARM fans.  We believe that the future of the datacenter is one where efficiency, density, reduced power consumption, and scalability are the primary design factors.  ARM processors are well positioned to meet that demand, and ARM has committed to making a strategic investment in this market.  However, change does not happen overnight.

Instead, ARM is taking slow, but very deliberate steps to ensure that the hardware and software ecosystem are optimized and mature, to increase their chances of success.  Let’s recap some of those latest efforts:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server for ARM Development Preview 7.1 – Red Hat has been working hard on adding support for 64-bit ARM architecture to their popular Linux distribution, and is getting closer to reaching a beta state.  For now however, you do need to be a part of their Early Access Program.

Linaro / 96Boards Project –  This project is focused on driving down the cost of 64-bit ARM hardware and making it more readily available to developers.  Two boards are now shipping, the Dragonboard 410c with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, and the HiKey board powered by an octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 620 processor.   The upcoming “Enterprise Edition” specification is expected to launch in the near future, as well.

CentOS – The CentOS team is hard at work building an ARM version of their Linux distro as well, and have some Google Summer of Code projects devoted to the effort.

Gigabyte – Last month at Computex, Gigabyte showed off a new server motherboard based on the AppliedMicro XGene1 ARM processor, as well as a cold storage server powered by an ARM processor.

So, as you can see, the ARM Server ecosystem is still rapidly evolving, but not with reckless abandon.  Instead, deliberate and measured steps are being taken to ensure a successful entrance in to the datacenter and server industry.

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miniNodes.com Launches First Hosted 64-Bit ARM Server

Phoenix, AZ — Cloud hosting provider miniNodes.com, a pioneer in the ARM server hosting industry, is proud to announce the immediate availability of the world’s first hosted 64-bit ARM server. The new 64-bit ARM miniNode is the first publicly available hosted Linux server to use a processor based on the ARMv8 architecture.

While the transition from 32-bit to 64-bit CPU’s is already underway in the smartphone market, the server market has been slower to evolve. This has been due to the limited availability and prohibitively expensive early samples of 64-bit ARM hardware. However, the new 64-bit ARM miniNode eliminates the barriers to entry and dramatically reduces the cost for companies to begin testing software, porting applications, and building new technologies that leverage the benefits of the ARMv8 architecture. The 64-bit ARM miniNode is based on the HiSilicon Kirin 6220 processor, which has 8 ARM Cortex-A53 cores, coupled with 1gb of RAM and 20gb of storage. Linux support includes Debian 8.0 “Jessie” at launch, with other Linux distributions expected to become available in the future.

Although ARM processors already power the vast majority of smartphones, tablets, and media players, as well as some laptops, the biggest market segment poised for growth is the server and datacenter industry. ARM’s low power, high efficiency CPU designs can result in significant energy savings for web-scale datacenter operators, where energy and cooling are the largest costs. Companies can make sure their applications and code are ready to take advantage of these next-generation datacenters by using the new miniNode 64-bit ARM server to achieve compatibility today.

More information about the miniNode 64-bit ARM server can be found on our website, https://www.mininodes.com/product/64-bit-arm-mininode/

More information on ARM Holdings can be located on their website, http://www.arm.com