Several system demonstrations have shown that the basic software building blocks are now in place running on ARM platforms. Simple recompiles of application code are required to show OpenStack applications running on existing 32-bit ARM powered servers. I attended Citrix’s XenSummit last week and heard a presentation of work that is far along to shown Xen running on a Cortex-A15 processor (the first ARM processor to include hardware support for virtualization). They also indicated that they have written this code in a way that has the software ready to migrate to the 64-bit version of the ARMv8 instruction set architecture, which includes the AArch64 execution state. Of course, no one is complacent there is a significant amount of effort in front of us and the ARM ecosystem to further optimize these application stacks for use on ARM platforms to further improve the performance/watt metric that ARM technology provides, along with attracting new software to the ARM architecture. You will hear more about these pieces in the coming months and quarters.
But this week also gave some insight into where the ARM technology is headed. At Hot Chips last week, Applied Micro revealed the next level of detail of their X-Gene processor. Applied Micro has been working with us for a long period of time and immediately announced their intent to produce a server device on the same day last October when ARM revealed the details of the ARMv8 instruction set. So it is great to see that, ten months on, the timeline shared at launch for samples is on track. You should be able to access the presentation material shown at Hot Chips here. With the processor core capable of issuing four instructions on every clock cycle, up to 32 processors cores on a single system on chip and an on-chip fabric that supports greater than 1Tbps of bandwidth, one can quickly see that this is not your regular mobile phone device.
The press of course has picked up on a few pieces from this week’s event. Several, including Rick Merritt from the EE Times, referenced Pat Gelsinger’s remarks in a keynote. You can read the write-up from The Register about Applied Micro’s repost here. Of course, time will be the decider on who is right!
While I am excited by the features of the processor core itself, the area of equal interest/opportunity is the level of integration. Applied Micro showed in this processor that the device also includes 10G Ethernet and a number of optimized-for-purpose accelerator engines. I will not steal Applied Micro’s thunder here by discussing the functionality embedded here but the point to make is that when the networking subsystem is integrated on the same die as the processor system, the result is more energy and CPU cycle count processing of data.
Applied Micro has a development board that includes an FPGA implementation of their device running Linux now. The partnership between Applied Micro with ARM is now focused on ensuring that 64-bit software intersects the initial X-Gene devices, including operating systems and appropriate application stacks.
Ian Ferguson, Director of Server Systems and Ecosystem, ARM, has spent years fighting from the corner of the underdog. Most of those scars are healing nicely. Ian is particularly passionate about taking ARM technology into new types of applications that do not exist or are at the very formative stages. Consequently, he is driving ARM’s server program with a view to reinvent the way the server function is implemented in networks as opposed to simply replacing incumbent platforms.
0 Comments On This Entry
Please log in above to add a comment or register for an account
Fortune Brainstorm Green
on May 13 2013 10:58 AM
Moonshot - a shot in the ARM for the 21st century data center
on Apr 09 2013 01:22 PM
Bringing the Benefits of the Smartphone to Pay-TV
on Mar 14 2013 05:34 PM
2013 - A Lucky Year For All Smartphone Consumers
on Mar 13 2013 06:58 PM
Internet of You at Mobile World Congress with M2M, Sensors and LTE
on Mar 12 2013 02:44 PM