ARM, AMCC Team on Server

Red Hat announced Oct. 25 that it had teamed up with both ARM and ARM licensee Applied Micro Circuits Corp. to develop a 64-bit server design based on the ARM architecture, a day after another ARM server partnership was struck.

ARM and AMCC said that they planned to develop a server that would be based on the AppliedMicro X-Gene “server on a chip” design. It wasn’t immediately clear if the two companies would be developing the server design themselves, or if they would need to partner with a third company. However, an AMCC spokeswoman said that additional announcements would be forthcoming.

“AppliedMicro is part of HP’s Moonshot program and there will be of course additional OEMs and ODMs, just not at this time,” the AMCC spokeswoman said. “First, we are discussing the ecosystem and chip solution, then we will start to announce customers.”

For its part, Red Hat said that it was interested in the work, and planned to have a “Fedora 19 [Linux] remix” out in time for the 64-bit designs, expected later in 2014.

“We have a multi-year history in the ARM space, and already have our community-powered Fedora Linux distribution running on AppliedMicro hardware in our labs,” Jon Masters, chief ARM architect at Red Hat, wrote in a statement. “Red Hat is collaborating with AppliedMicro to enable support for ARM’s 64-bit ARMv8 architecture used in the upcoming X-Gene Server-on-Chip designs. We aim to have a remix of Fedora 19 available in time to support the roll out of that platform.”

ARM, of course, is quite interested in moving out of the world of smartphones and set-top boxes into the data center via specialized servers. However, most consider a 64-bit architecture the ante for a seat at the table, and ARM’s v8 architecture achieves that. Companies like AMCC, with the ability to design their own cores, have the potential to be one of the early entrants to the market. AMCC showed off its X-Gene platform at the recent Hot Chips conference, where the company announced plans to ship first silicon later this year.

“We are excited to support AppliedMicro’s innovation as it develops 64-bit ARM powered server system-on-a-chips,” Tom Cronk, the deputy general manager of ARM’s processor division, wrote in a statement. “ARM’s business model is centered on partnership, and this collaboration is a further example of ARM ensuring that a compelling software ecosystem coalesces. The ecosystem will enable the industry to take full advantage of the device innovation and integration underway for deployment in the server market.”

This week, Dell and ARM licensee Calxeda announced a project to co-develop a “Zinc” concept server based on Calxeda’s EnergyCore architecture, with the goal of donating it to the Apache Software Foundation for software development and app porting. That follows Dell’s earlier effort, dubbed “Copper,” which it released in May. Neither server is commercially available, with Dell saying only that it would bring the hardware to market at an “appropriate time.”

A demonstration of the the X-Gene platform being added to the Fedora Linux distribution will be presented by Masters at the upcoming 2012 ARM TechCon on November 1.

 

Image: Arjuna Kodisinghe/Shutterstock.com

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