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Job Ad Hints At Microsoft Move To ARM Servers

kdawson posted about 4 years ago | from the to-arms dept.

Intel 138

An anonymous reader passes along a brief EE Times note on a suggestive Microsoft job ad. ARM is explicitly mentioned, as are solid-state disk drives as an area of experimentation in the quest to reduce power consumption; but Intel does not get a mention. Here is the ad. "Microsoft is looking for senior software development engineer to help with its Bing data centers, potentially running them on ARM hardware, according to an EE Times article. Whoever gets the job 'can own the decision on the hardware that we use,' the job description said, and added that power management is a key aspect of the job. ... Microsoft was reportedly experimenting with the Intel Atom microprocessor in February 2009 with a view to creating a green low-power data center. One issue discussed then was the Atom microprocessor lacked performance compared with other Intel processors and that therefore any power saving might be negated by the need for more processors to carry a given computational load."

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138 comments

Really? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31917074)

For the past several years I've been mailing all my feces to Ron Paul. Every time I defecate, I do so in a zip lock bag, which I then send to Ron Paul's home address via USPS priority mail. Though I always clearly write my name and address on the return portion of the envelope, I have never received a reply, nor have any of my mailings been refused.

Re:Really? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31917614)

ITT: Smug nerds *snort* at Microsoft idea of doing something with Atom which M$z CAN'T run.

Keep sleeping nerds! thinking MS will not support ARM and being OWNED when WinARM8 delivers what Linux it's "already" delivering, but no, because... wheres my $100 dollar ARM netbook running ubuntu?

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31917874)

FYI: ARM is pretty common in our daily electronics, from Mobile Phone, to Home Appliance, to Machineries and Automotive, whenever a processor power is required, most likely it is ARM. ARM Linux (commonly categorized as embedded Linux) are pretty common too, but not obvious nor as fancy as Ubuntu. Most embedded Linux runs only a kernel + busybox + custom application. For example Sony utilize many embedded Linux (not all ARM) (http://www.sony.net/Products/Linux/)

Re:Really? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31918164)

Were talking about PCs and servers not appliances get a grip. Do you think average joe american idol cares if his TV is running Linux? NO! but he do care if the babylappyawwwsocuteandcheap in best buy it's running the familiar Windows OS.

My point was, Nerds and Linux devs got asleep because "Win would not run on ARM", now Win it's going to run on ARM and fill that niche too. The same story as it happened on the eeePC and Xandros. I remember nerds boasting about the end of MS just because eeePCs had so limited resources to run Vista, now we have babylaptops for $400 and Win7 on them, MS KILLED THE NETBOOK MARKET, HAVE YOU NOTICED??.

  Next in the list is the market you pointed in your post: TV is running ARMWin8 and Joe says: "Well why not?! Windows makes my computor fast and nice, I'm smart and I got the facts, I'd have two! here I go third mortgage!"

My point stands, Wheres the fucking $100 - $200 ARM laptop to install ANY Linux on it? Don't point to some fancy scam in Singapore or shit, real product in retail dude. Theres is none! MS killed them all, like nijarz! Wake up fags! the last stronghold in which Linux could shine its being silently killed by MS.

kthnksbai

(I have inside knowledge about what it's actually going on, hence AC, MS it's pouring money on the manufacturers so they halt or cancel their ARM laptop projects)

Product Experimentation (3, Interesting)

statusbar (314703) | about 4 years ago | (#31917076)

Not necessarily dropping intel:

To provide sufficient server and networking capacity, the Autopilot Hardware team is involved in Data Center planning, new hardware expirementation including SSD and ARM

They are just doing expirementation (s.i.c.) !

--jeffk++

Re:Product Experimentation (3, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about 4 years ago | (#31917106)

Whenever I hear about ARM and CPU Core's, I always get this unbelievable urge to dig up Total Annihilation.

I know, I'm weird.

Re:Product Experimentation (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31917214)

an interesting side note to that, network play still works in windows 7.... not bad for a game made for 95

Re:Product Experimentation (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31917264)

I'm in ur gantry killin' yer krogoths.

Re:Product Experimentation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31917374)

and going with this tangent..
try springrts.com for a full 3D multi-player remake of Total Annihilation-like games

Re:Product Experimentation (1)

aXis100 (690904) | about 4 years ago | (#31918262)

Continuing the off topic TA loving:

The CA (Complete Annihillation) mod for Spring is excellent and well maintained.

Netbooks! (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 4 years ago | (#31917080)

It looks like MS is going to switch their Bing data centers over to power efficient netbooks using ARM processors and use SSD for storage. Wow ... running the Internet on netbooks. Now that's thinking different!

Re:Netbooks! (1)

marcansoft (727665) | about 4 years ago | (#31917150)

Not netbooks. If anything, it'll have to be an ARM single board computer, something like this [igep-platform.com] . I have one of those; they're awesome in quite a few ways.

Re:Netbooks... Don't be fooled! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31917184)

Fool me once, blame me, fool me twice... er...

ARM + SSD + low power + Apple selling like hot pancakes + Apple fearing Google's Android implies:

Secret M$ mobile project... a Zunephone or a Zunepad or something...

Re:Netbooks! (4, Interesting)

Entrope (68843) | about 4 years ago | (#31918264)

The OMAP3530 (which is in the IGEPv2) is a cool part in a lot of ways, but it would be boneheaded to put it in a data center. Because it doesn't have any high-speed interconnects -- gigabit Ethernet, PCI Express, RapidIO, or the like -- it isn't suited for most network-intensive applications. Marvell has a variety of systems-on-chips that do have ARM cores, running at higher speeds than the OMAP parts, and with high-speed interfaces on the chip. Other vendors probably have similar offerings; those are the ones that Microsoft would probably want to look at.

Re:Netbooks! (1)

marcansoft (727665) | about 4 years ago | (#31918640)

Of course, the OMAP is more of a mobile kind of part. I wasn't suggesting that particular board. I've heard good things about Marvell's implementation of the ARM architecture.

What I want to see are "performance" offerings with proper interconnects (especially Gigabit Ethernet and SATA) and multiple Cortex-A9 cores. That'd be great for all kinds of server applications, datacenter or home alike. The thing with Marvell's fast chips is that they seem to implement just the old ARMv5 instruction set, which is no fun. They also have ARMv7 versions, but those are for mobile applications mostly (e.g. single core).

Re:Netbooks! (1)

will.perdikakis (1074743) | about 4 years ago | (#31917158)

The netbooks will have no flash support either, only Silverlight is allowed on the Mobile IE Browser. You can play WMA files using Windows Media Player and buy new songs through the Windows Media Player Store.

Now, that is innovation.

Re:Netbooks! (5, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 4 years ago | (#31917172)

They're probably consolidating Bing down to a netbook to better serve the dozen or so people who use Bing.

And most of them are related to Steve Ballmer.

Re:Netbooks! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31917598)

Actually four of these accounts are owned by Steve Ballmer himself:
1. S.Ball (regular everyday personnal account)
2. Ballman (pr0n account)
3. MacLover (to be able to spy on Apple fanbois incognito)
4. Chairmaster (to do research on types of chairs, kinds of woods and aerodynamics of four-legged seating apparatus)

Re:Netbooks! (0, Troll)

peragrin (659227) | about 4 years ago | (#31917174)

Given the number of people who can actually use bing and find stuff that is actually relevant you can probably run the servers on a couple of netbooks.

I randomly try to use bing to find stuff. I always get the wrong answer. I remember back when MSFT first switched windows live to bing you could search for Linux and get microsoft.com answers.

It has gotten better than that. but not nearly as much as MSFT wants you to believe.

Re:Netbooks! (2, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#31917592)

I always get the wrong answer.

I'm surprised Bing isn't better. You'd think that MS would have put a little more effort into it. It's also ugly to look at.

I wouldn't mind more competition to Google. While I like the free email and the configurable home page google offers, some really high-quality competitors would be healthy all around.

I don't know.. (5, Funny)

ignavus (213578) | about 4 years ago | (#31917092)

I don't know about "owning the decision on the hardware we use", but I'd like to "own the decision on the software they use".

Re:I don't know.. (2, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 4 years ago | (#31917194)

I wonder how true that quote actually is. I mean, what if you decide to run OSX Server, or order a shitload of iPads... or start buying Sparc boxen (they still make those, yanno...)

Re:I don't know.. (1)

Kaboom13 (235759) | about 4 years ago | (#31917684)

If you can make Mac servers running OS X beat their existing intel servers on price, performance, and power consumption (presumably the goal of the whole experiment) I think they would be extremely interested.

Re:I don't know.. (1)

iowannaski (766150) | about 4 years ago | (#31918290)

It's a trap. The successful applicant may "own" the decision, but that doesn't mean he will make it - it just means he will be responsible for dealing with any repercussions.

Re:I don't know.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31917210)

I laugh at the thought that they're probably stubborn and backwards enough to run a Windows based cluster.
Then again, they don't have to pay licensing costs, so I guess they can at least ignore one of the disadvantages.
Now the question is, are they going to port Windows Server to ARM, or will they be running Windows Mobile?

Re:I don't know.. (1)

Bungie (192858) | about 4 years ago | (#31917450)

Windows Mobile is enough of a headache on mobile devices, I don't even want to think of it running as a server. I think to handle something like Bing, they'll need Windows Server. If they've kept true to NT's platform independant designs they should be able to port it easily enough.

Re:I don't know.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31917468)

You laugh but I have it on good inside info that most if not all of MS's big SQL installations are Oracle on Sparc/Solaris. Have a friend at Sun who worked on it. So when they have a need for power and stability, they do not choose MSSQL.

So... (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#31917128)

Does this mean that they have an internal build of NT on ARM, or is the world going to be graced with "Windows CE Datacenter Enterprise Edition" at some point?

Re:So... (0, Troll)

will.perdikakis (1074743) | about 4 years ago | (#31917200)

I hope the reset button on the datacenter does not require a fine tip point to reach. :p

Re:So... (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#31917474)

It does; but one of their mechanical engineers came to a rather brilliant realization:

A WinCE PDA is almost exactly the same size as a data tape. With modest modifications(consisting largely of forcing the work experience kid to run lots and lots of docking cables) an industry standard tape silo can be turned into a gigantic WinCE/ARM blade farm. If a node stops responding, the robot retrieval arm pops it out, presses the reset button, and pops it back in again. Since the OS is in ROM, boot is short and downtime is minimal.

Re:So... (1)

cbdougla (769586) | about 4 years ago | (#31917528)

I can't decide whether to mod this insightful or funny.

Oh well. I guess I'll post instead.

Re:So... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31918440)

Better to question whether you are clever enough to moderate, than to post and remove all doubt.

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 4 years ago | (#31917590)

NT was written [microsoft.com] as a portable OS from grounds up (remember that it had a working MIPS build before x86 build!), and much of that legacy still remains today in OS architectural design, so porting the OS itself shouldn't be hard. The toolchain (compiler etc) is already there to target ARM for CE.

Drivers (third-party ones specifically) might be trickier, though they're still mostly written in C, so for the most part it should be a straightforward recompile.

Re:So... (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 4 years ago | (#31917622)

I doubt they ever stopped keeping back room ports of NT for Alpha and Mips.. Kind of like how apple always kept a back room, "secret" port of OSX for intel. Sure, the apps won't run, but in a datacenter, you can pick the exact apps you need, and recompile.

Re:So... (1)

EXMSFT (935404) | about 4 years ago | (#31918518)

They did stop keeping them.

Dear lord, I can't imagine having to ensure builds would still compile for all of the dead architectures.

ARM Processors (1)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | about 4 years ago | (#31917130)

So does this mean Windows will be ported to ARM soon, or will Bing be running on Linux?

Re:ARM Processors (3, Funny)

Evil_Ether (1200695) | about 4 years ago | (#31917164)

Or they could cluster the ARMs under Linux and then run Windoze on a VM.

Re:ARM Processors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31917350)

...or maybe just port some embedded version of Windows (e.g., windows CE) to ARM, port IIS+whatever else required, and go.

Re:ARM Processors (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31917628)

ARM = Automated Resource Management

also a good way to hide news of porting Windows (1)

Locutus (9039) | about 4 years ago | (#31917206)

it could be just about ARM based HDD controllers but then again, it could be their way to fund and develop Windows for the ARM tablet and netbook segments. ARM based tablets and netbooks are due to hit the market in bucketfuls this fall and with talk of Google doing an Android based tablet, Microsoft has to be ontop of this. Monkey Boy Ballmer is probably throwing chairs around yelling about how ARM devices( iPhone and Android ) are already making Microsoft a laughing stock of the mobile market.

So is it just about saving money/energy for MS BING servers or is it about getting Windows ported to ARM?

LoB

Re:also a good way to hide news of porting Windows (1)

bdenton42 (1313735) | about 4 years ago | (#31917380)

Want to run Flash on an iPad? Buy Microsoft iWindows 7!!

Not going to find that one at the app store.

Maybe not for the server hardware itself (3, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 4 years ago | (#31917250)

ARM is severely underpowered, even when comparing to Atom. So it doesn't make *any* sense that MS is considering it as a server platform.

However, ARM excels at low power consumption and mobility. This would allow a new array of "server helper" devices that had needed quick handling of light tasks. Maybe something like packet routing or on the fly network topology auto-configuration. Another concept could be mobile cache points which would be somehow networked to the main servers and provide "smart caching" of data for light user requests.

Who knows. But to think that ARM is going to somehow best Intel's chips in the server market is crazy.

Re:Maybe not for the server hardware itself (5, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 years ago | (#31917366)

The important metric is MIPS/Watt. It doesn't matter if the CPU is "underpowered" if you can run a bunch of them in parallel to get the same performance as a Xeon, and still get better power consumption. Remember, the work they're doing is highly parallelizable, so outright clockspeed isn't very important.

However, I don't have any MIPS/Watt figures available for ARMs or Xeons, so this is idle speculation. If I were to take a guess, however, I'd guess that, given a real-world workload, the Xeons would probably beat the ARMs because of many factors: cache size, context-switching time, etc. If it were more economical to run a datacenter on tons of low-power ARMs, Google probably would have already done it by now.

As for craziness, remember, this is Microsoft we're talking about: the company that thought SongSmith would actually be a commercial success instead of a complete joke. Given their combination of big successes and utter failures, they seem to be quite neurotic.

Re:Maybe not for the server hardware itself (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#31917560)

I suspect that, for the ARM designs, the real killer would be the glue logic/connectivity required.

Even if the ARM cores were more efficient, in terms of work done per unit power consumption, you'd still get less work per core, which means more cores, which means more network gear(whether it be network gear in the classic "1U, 48ports, ethernet" sense or whether it would be some custom thing(dozens of cores per card, with glue logic, some sort of cardcage/blade design, whatever) the interconnect silicon and cabling costs money, consumes energy, takes time to set up/administer and constitutes another point of failure.

If the ARM cluster equivalent in power to your basic boring 1-2 socket x86 requires 24 or 48 switch ports, any power and initial cost savings are going to be eaten fast.

Re:Maybe not for the server hardware itself (2, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#31917792)

You can get ARM blades with many chips on one blade already. This is not each little machine with its own network interface, the overhead would be massive.

Re:Maybe not for the server hardware itself (1)

vwjeff (709903) | about 4 years ago | (#31917742)

ARM would be a great platform to run a search engine's web spider. The spider box itself doesn't do much processing. It would go out and determine of a page exists or if a page has been updated. The spider would then tell another more powerful system to analyze the contents of the page. The ARM boxes could be powered on and off as needed. I don't think Microsoft would run an entire data center on ARM. I'm guessing they are looking at ARM for an extremely specialized task in their data centers.

Re:Maybe not for the server hardware itself (3, Interesting)

Skapare (16644) | about 4 years ago | (#31917748)

Back when I was building a Linux distro for an ARM platform (specifically IXP435) I found it to have maybe about 1/3 of the power of x86 CPUs of the time, but running so cool that the CPU didn't need a heat sink and didn't get so hot I couldn't put my thumb on the CPU. And that was after running a regression test suite for 20 hours. ARM definitely is a win for the MIPS/Watt metric.

BTW, it would be scientifically simpler to just refer to this metric as "millions of instructions executed per joule of energy converted to heat" (would roughly equates to a gain of information in exchange for a loss of information).

Re:Maybe not for the server hardware itself (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | about 4 years ago | (#31917862)

Nehalem is about 800 DMIPS/Watt (75500/95W), Cortex A9 is about 8,000 (4000/.5W). The Nehalem figure is based on Sandra results for the Core i7 870 link [guru3d.com] , Cortex is based on ARM's numbers for their power efficient model link [arm.com]

Re:Maybe not for the server hardware itself (4, Interesting)

ravyne (858869) | about 4 years ago | (#31917946)

Actually, current ARM processors are more than competitive with Intel's low-power offerings -- Arm Coretex A-8 cores have been benchmarked to match or exceed the performance of Intel Atom processors in integer performance while suffering a 25% clockspeed disadvantage, and while consuming around 1/20th the power. Floating point performance does indeed lag behind even Intel's Atom (its also one of the focus areas for the Cortex A-9 core), but is not a big requirement for server or database tasks.

There was some intersting reseach not too long ago which paired low-power x86 chips (Geode LX at the time, IIRC), Solid-state storage (in the form of compact flash) and a RAM-based caching of solid-state contents. About 10 of these boards were then clustered, running a distributed database application. As I recall, there were some serious performance and power-savings advantages compared to a single larger, multi-core x86 server setup. The primary advantage, in my oppinion, was that the ammount of available bandwidth, both to storage and to working RAM, combined with intelligent caching, was paired in much more favorable ratios to the power of the CPU. In short, the reseach found that a cluster of modest machines turns out to be competitive, even better-than, a single powerful server in terms of cost, power-consumption, heat disipation, and even in performance.

Microsoft is keen to realize that a modern ARM core is quite well suited to match modern I/O limitations. There's no point building a large system when the requests it's going to serve will be bottlenecked by I/O.

Re:Maybe not for the server hardware itself (1)

martas (1439879) | about 4 years ago | (#31918040)

i've seen such figures comparing CPU efficiency (though can't find them now). unsurprisingly, the distribution looks like a bell curve, with the mid-range CPU's having best overall power efficiency.

Re:Maybe not for the server hardware itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31917906)

Don't be so sure about ARM being out of the game for doing the heavy lifting. One of our class talks was from someone who was part of a research team examining the issues that need to be addressed to get us to exaflop scale supercomputers and beyond. Power requirements are absolutely key, and ARM processors -- evolved, of course -- may end up being the way. I know there's at least one team putting together an ARM-based cluster, and frankly I think they're on to something. (Our prof said they're hiring, and I might ask for more info.)

Re:Maybe not for the server hardware itself (1)

White Flame (1074973) | about 4 years ago | (#31918180)

Underpowered in which way? I'd expect ARM not to have the floating-point horsepower of Intel low-power CPUs, but this is datacenter, not HPC vector computation. I don't know enough about Atom et al to compare the rest of the feature set.

Re:Maybe not for the server hardware itself (1)

KibibyteBrain (1455987) | about 4 years ago | (#31918568)

ARM Core + FPGA Logic = much faster than x86/x64 + much more power efficient + just as easy to develop for once your "library" of FPGA APIs is developed.
Microsoft Research has been looking at FPGAs in the datacenter for a long, long time.

Have to note as a big 'duh' (4, Interesting)

Junta (36770) | about 4 years ago | (#31917302)

One issue discussed then was the Atom microprocessor lacked performance compared with other Intel processors

Atom and ARM are great platforms when you don't need much processor in one spot. I.e. many embedded applications and a lot of consumer electronics. They need some processor, but not a lot. 'desktop/server' processors are optimized for a higher load and just don't scale down. Note that ARM isn't inherently low power, it's just the instruction set everyone in the world has rights to implement, and Intel pretty well dominated everything but an emerging low power market. You have a lot of innovation and skill at implementing 'just-enough' processors that simply picks ARM out of convenience.

In the data center context, things change. The notorious energy consumption of the low-power processors come to nothing when you can arbitrarily consolidate workload onto as few processors as possible. The economies of scale of the mainstream desktop/server platforms deliver are far greater than tiny low power devices.

In terms of MS experimenting with it, expect nothing to come of it. It will fail like Atom did in their experiment before. Assuming a long shot, expect nothing to change externally, even if MS discovers ARM is great for their data centers, they cannot readily win a market that centers around lower cost, lower energy, lower performance non-x86 compatible parts. They have a golden example of a company thinking their technology intrinsically drives the industry making a drastic change to discover they were wrong. Intel thought they dictated the terms of the industry, but Itanium simply failed to transform the market without quality x86 compatibility. This was the golden opportunity for AMD to swoop in with an alternative and make huge gains. MS is in the exact same situation, 99.9% of their clout is the environment of existing Windows apps. Microsoft has tried time after time various platforms to reach the same endgame of no success. If the new architecture in *theory* provided more performance, sufficient to emulate x86 instructions, then it would stand a remote chance, but going to lower performance platform renders this impossible. In a really long shot, MS gets a lot of really nice ARM hardware on the market, and then has to compete with Linux on its own merits rather than ecosystem of applications. It's nearly suicide to risk your largest leverage point unless the industry is imminently making you irrelevant even if you stick to your guns.

Re:Have to note as a big 'duh' (4, Informative)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 4 years ago | (#31917358)

We found this when testing our point of sale app. So long as the POS software was running only the POS software on the terminal with the DB hosting on another machine/server, it was great. But as soon as you coupled POS + DB on the same terminal, lag started to be noticed. It was still acceptable, but it would take 3 seconds to create a new ticket vs. less than a second on a 2.8Ghz P4. Especially on the single core Atoms. The Dual Core atoms seemed to handle things just as well as their 2.8Ghz & 3Ghz power hungry Pentium they were to be replacing. And we tested both Windows XP/WEPOS & Linux (openSuSE/Ubuntu) and saw the same results.

Re:Have to note as a big 'duh' (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about 4 years ago | (#31917682)

This is something I've been thinking about lately. Obviously, good design dictates that we use a separate app and db server for performance reasons (as it is usually more responsive). However, what about separate purposes (app server, db server), each running in its own VM on the same host? It's something I'm hoping to implement at a not-too-distant time to test.

Re:Have to note as a big 'duh' (3, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | about 4 years ago | (#31918308)

If you didn't want to run them on the same machine for performance reasons before, virtualization will only exacerbate the problem. Virtualization does not speed up anything, it does not magically make multitasking better (in fact, worse). Virtualization can be used for some security separation without having to think at all about it (I would prefer people do the thinking to make it ok to coexist in the same OS instance, the VM thinking just leads to effectively static linked binaries for everything, but practically speaking, people are lazy) or for running disparate OS apps (i.e. Windows and Linux) concurrently with reduced hardware.

Re:Have to note as a big 'duh' (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about 4 years ago | (#31917664)

Put simply: which would you rather have servicing millions of small, distributed requests?

a) thousands of 2.8GHz multicore Intel platforms using large amounts of electricity and heat
b) tens of thousands of 800MHz multicore ARM systems using much less than 1/10th the power of the Intel platform, producing significantly less heat?

The answer - to me - is pretty clear. The bottleneck to implementation is the software.

Re:Have to note as a big 'duh' (2, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | about 4 years ago | (#31917762)

The answer - to me - is pretty clear. The bottleneck to implementation is the software.

I'd rather have whichever one is more cost-effective, and I sincerely doubt it's going to be the ARM solution.

I'd like to see some evidence that an ARM CPU provides two orders of magnitude better processing power/watt than a Xeon CPU.

Then you might want to consider how much power consumption the order of magnitude greater supporting electronics (motherboards, RAM, switches, etc) is going to add to the ARM solution.

*Then* you might want to consider the cost of people to handle the additional administrative overhead in managing and order of magnitude more machines, and the additional physical space required.

Re:Have to note as a big 'duh' (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#31917866)

Why would there be more machines?
You just have more CPUs per machine.

It's not magical (2, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | about 4 years ago | (#31918046)

You don't just plop down a bunch of ARM processors on a board and magically get suitable performance without scaling out memory architecture and such. The only way in the x86 space that very many core systems get acceptable results is by increasingly sophisticated memory architectures that demand more memory modules in aggregate to allow direct, lightly loaded paths between compute and memory. Those memory modules draw more energy, as does various strategies that put more memory controllers down to lighten the load and more. Scaling general-purpose computing tasks to many small cores simply has some significant challenges that drive up the incremental power requirements as it goes up.

The most performance per watt in pure compute power is currently PowerXCell 8i, which doesn't exist outside of an IBM blade as far as I know. If a datacenter wanted to *really* be serious about performance per watt, I think I'd see more QS22s lying around. Intel is admittedly not the leader in performance-per-watt, but the crown still lies in systems optimized for high resource utilization in a small number of CPU packages.

Re:Have to note as a big 'duh' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31918214)

atom doesnt have hypertransport/qpi idiot.

Re:Have to note as a big 'duh' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31918074)

The problem is, the numbers are straight from thin air. You think by adding 10 times as many servers (btw, those servers have all sorts of individual inefficiencies and energy overhead to significantly offset any gains on the actual processor) you can deliver the exact same throughput, but there is a lack of real data.

Also, if you do want to get adventurous, then look at non-intel high-end chips like POWER, and re-examine the performance per watt between that and the various ARM vendors. Intel may get to largely skip energy efficiency innovation to a large degree, but at the top end, there are vendors still making remarkable technology that is probably also doomed in the datacenter eventually.

Re:Have to note as a big 'duh' (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 4 years ago | (#31918382)

One thing others haven't pointed out yet is there are many other *fixed* power consumers. Like NICs, switches, motherboards in general.

Even with a CPU that is 1/40th the speed, but 1/100th the power is you still have to use 40 times more computers, which also means 40 times more network ports.

You also have to remember a mostly fixed amount of overhead from the DB/OS standpoint. It might only be 1/40th the speed, but you may take a relative performance hit from XXX amount of mips just to calculate indexes and requests/etc.

Re:Have to note as a big 'duh' (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#31917806)

and Intel pretty well dominated everything but an emerging low power market.

I know what day it is, so are you high?
ARM cpus are sold by the container ship full, these things are in everything from coffee makers to cellphones. Intel dominates x86, in the embedded world they are just starting to get a userbase.

Re:Have to note as a big 'duh' (1)

Junta (36770) | about 4 years ago | (#31917974)

As I said everything *but* an emerging low power market. ARM is the place where they don't have a hold.

Re:Have to note as a big 'duh' (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#31918042)

The low power market is not emerging and they do not have a place in several other markets. They own x86 that is all. Embedded is a market far bigger than PCs and servers.

Re:Have to note as a big 'duh' (1)

Junta (36770) | about 4 years ago | (#31918324)

Fine 'emerging' might have paid a disservice to the rest of embedded, but you have to admit embedded sensibilities are meeting more front-and-center consumer interaction with more general purpose set-top boxes and cell phones going around. Sure, special purpose embedded well behind the scenes has been larger volumes, but the more general purpose in a single device aspect is changing the landscape of embedded.

Re:Have to note as a big 'duh' (1)

afidel (530433) | about 4 years ago | (#31918758)

By units, revenue, gross profit, or net profit? Because I'm pretty sure Intel is the biggest in all those categories except units shipped.

ARM != ARM CPU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31917316)

This probably means Automated Resource Management. I can't belien

Nobody here remember RAQ2? or Acorn? (1)

GuyFawkes (729054) | about 4 years ago | (#31917328)

RISC can do a surprisingly heavy lift, pound for pound...

My old RAQ2 didn't even have heatsinks on the CPU...

Re:Nobody here remember RAQ2? or Acorn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31917652)

Oh gawd, the Cobalt RAQ2
The failure rate on the RAQ3 was one bad in every box of 5
I made fun of the hardware to one of their sales reps and they gave me the shrug of I agree

Re:Nobody here remember RAQ2? or Acorn? (1)

supssa (1789172) | about 4 years ago | (#31917930)

Yea I remember RAQ2, probably the worst iteration of the R5000 cpu. My R5000s all had heatsinks, they were also almost 10 years before the underpowered RAQ2. RAQ2 was great if you had a hobbiest webserver, but those of us actually crunching data were much better suited with UltraSPARC or x86....

"Edge" systems? (3, Insightful)

ErichTheRed (39327) | about 4 years ago | (#31917388)

Here's a thought...most pure data retrieval tasks don't require a huge amount of compute power on the device making the request. If I were operating a datacenter with thousands of hits a second, I'd want to optimize for the ability to hold a session open, then offload the request to either a monster data layer or a midrange layer that brokers requests and caches frequent search results.

Something like a single-board computer (or a really scaled-up thin client :-) ) running a low-power processor dedicated to driving network interfaces that also have their own offloading processors would allow them to scale the access layer way up for less power costs. Reliability would be less of a concern too, because you could have tons of cheap devices for the same costs as a fraction of full servers.

When you scale out, you often don't need the overhead that full servers would give you, because you're limiting the tasks that layer of access has to do.

Or...they just want to see how many smartphones it would take to replace layer one of Bing. :-)

I'm waiting for the announcement of Windows Embedded CE 2011 Datacenter Edition.

"own the decision" (5, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | about 4 years ago | (#31917426)

MBA-ese for "take the blame"?

Re:"own the decision" (2, Informative)

Cjstone (1144829) | about 4 years ago | (#31918006)

Yeah. "If this goes well, you'll be a hero. If it doesn't, it's your fault and you'll never work in the industry again."

This is meaningless (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 4 years ago | (#31917552)

Even if Microsoft got involved in a low-power-computing market, it will not replace or supplant its core i386 product. Microsoft has a long record of attempting to support non-intel platforms and a long history of dropping that support even if all it required was minimal effort to cross compile and test.

In the end, other devices will compete and win. Most massive hosting activities, especially cloudy ones, are looking to Linux and similar/related technologies to operate them. Microsoft won't be able to compete against thousands of tiny suppliers. Microsoft can kill one or two or even ten competitors -- but thousands? Not a chance.

Re:This is meaningless (1)

EXMSFT (935404) | about 4 years ago | (#31918538)

"even if all it required was minimal effort to cross compile and test"... Seriously? It ain't that easy.

ARM servers.... (1, Troll)

jcr (53032) | about 4 years ago | (#31917596)

I'd like to see Apple ship an ARM-based Mac Mini server. That would come in handy for a couple of home-automation projects I'd like to do.

-jcr

Re:ARM servers.... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#31917828)

Why not use Linux or BSD or ARM?

OSX is pointless on the server.

Re:ARM servers.... (1)

chrisxcr1 (1210984) | about 4 years ago | (#31918358)

Here's a reason. Your clients are Macs so you go with what works with the least hassles. Some people are ok with trading time for money.

Re:ARM servers.... (1)

dissy (172727) | about 4 years ago | (#31918034)

Not quite as beefy as a mac mini, but for my own home automation I've found these to be excellent:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SheevaPlug [wikipedia.org]
http://www.plugcomputer.org/ [plugcomputer.org]

I built a small box with a USB hub IC and a number of parallel port USB chips for IO, which hangs off the plug computer. The thing fits in ceiling tiles and walls, really anywhere you have power and ethernet.

Unless of course you are going for the video output instead of usb, in which case the mac wins hands down.

Re:ARM servers.... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31918316)

I'd like to see Apple ship an ARM-based Mac Mini server. That would come in handy for a couple of home-automation projects I'd like to do.

-jcr

Why not look at an OpenRD Base or OpenRd Client? Or a Sheevaplug or GuruPlug Server?

On the other hand if you wait a few months their will be systems based on multi-core ARM SOC running at 2 GHz.

Uh-oh, now what? (1)

Strange Ranger (454494) | about 4 years ago | (#31917634)

" Whoever gets the job 'can own the decision on the hardware that we use"

Translation: "Will somebody from Google please come work for us? We'll give you the keys to the executive washroom!"

I wasn't aware (1)

eagl (86459) | about 4 years ago | (#31918162)

I wasn't aware that the servers needed protection. Why don't they hire security guards instead of arming the servers? Seems like it would be safer tha way.

Re:I wasn't aware (1)

Daengbo (523424) | about 4 years ago | (#31918726)

I can see the monologue now ...

The Microsoft data center became self-aware at 2:14 am Eastern Time on August 29th, 2011. In the ensuing panic and attempts ....

logic (1)

icepick72 (834363) | about 4 years ago | (#31918238)

You can't logically make the step from Microsoft wanting ARM in a job description to the company moving to ARM. The reasoning wreaks of either sensationalism or stupidity.
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