Cavium, an ARM core licensee, has announced its “Project Thunder” 64-bit ARM development kit.
Cavium said the development kit would be available to selected partners, in preparation for volume production of ARM’s 64-bit chips later this year; individual application developers can sign up at the company’s Website.
ARM announced the Cortex-A57 and -A53 cores at the end of October. The 64-bit chips, which can be used in either a smartphone or in a so-called hyperscale datacenter, will require significantly less power than most of today’s AMD Opteron and Intel Xeon X86 chips. (Intel recently announced “Centerton,” a low-power X86-compatible Atom chip, in order to take on ARM in the datacenter.)
ARM has indicated that the new chips will be available this year, but it could be some time before the data-center world—always relatively conservative in its upgrading tempo—actually begins adopting them. Those chips will also require the same sort of software and hardware infrastructure that the x86 segment put in place some time ago. Cavium and other licensees (along with software developers such as Fedora) will play an integral role in building that infrastructure.
Cavium’s Project Thunder SDK offers a full Linux operating system, toolchain and example applications that will enable ISVs and programmers to start distributed-computing development on the latest 64-bit ARMv8 architecture. It also includes an array of cache-coherent 64-bit ARMv8 CPU cores, plus peripherals like an interrupt controller, a mass storage interface, timers and the like. It features cross a development platform, so programmers can write their own applications, plus device drivers and UEFI compliant firmware used to boot OS images.
Cavium also said that it was working with The Fedora Project to help develop support for 64-bit ARM processors, which will be available in a future release. Support for 32-bit ARM chips has been available since Fedora 18 (“Spherical Cow”) released on Jan. 18, and Fedora has made initial images with the 64-bit support available for testing.
“During our initial testing, the Project Thunder SDK demonstrated stability, scalability and performance that should make it an important component of the ARM 64-bit ecosystem’s development efforts,” Jon Masters, chief ARM architect at Red Hat, wrote in a statement. “We look forward to continued collaboration with Cavium, even ahead of silicon availability.”