It’s the dream of many companies to make ARM more of a player in the datacenter. Univa is taking another step toward that dream by updating its Grid Engine datacenter automation tools with a beta version for ARM architecture.
This beta for ARM, currently available for download, is based on open-source Grid Engine technology originally developed by Sun Microsystems before it was purchased by Oracle. The software dynamically places workloads across all computing architectures, managing processors, memory, disk space, and software licenses.
“We’ve seen accelerators, GPUs, and other components enter the data center, and we see ARM as that next step, that sort of Lego block that comes in and takes over, with the possibility for particular applications,” Gary Tyreman, chief executive for Univa, said in an interview. “Ultimately, the flip side is that people are starting to figure out that a GPU isn’t only good for graphics, it can help you with other code, and an accelerator can help you whether it’s in memory or other areas. And there’s faster CPUs… and non-floating-point applications where ARM can really serve that market,” such as Hadoop.
The software is technically in beta despite being production-ready, Tyreman said. That’s primarily because the ARM 64-bit architectures that will power the datacenter aren’t expected to reach production until sometime next year, although samples from licensees such Univa’s partner, Calxeda, are available.
If somebody wants to build an entirely ARM-based server, it will require a different version of the Univa software. But the company is used to working within heterogenous environments; the port of the software took just four days, Tyreman said: “And I think that was a big surprise for me, because normally with an new operating system I wouldn’t expect it to be that easy.”
Univa will set its pricing for the ARM version beginning in the third quarter, he added. “We can’t command the same price point [as we charge] for a Xeon.”
Univa’s announcement is just part of the infrastructure framework slowly being built up to support ARM in the datacenter;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 a so-called hyperscale datacenter, will require significantly less power than most of today’s AMD Opteron and Intel Xeon X86 chips. At the beginning of February, Cavium, an ARM core licensee, announced its “Project Thunder” 64-bit ARM development kit in conjunction with the Fedora Project, which is developing a version of its Linux distribution for ARM-powered data centers.