Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

ARM-Based Servers Coming In 2011

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the leg-and-torso-on-the-way dept.

Data Storage 253

markass530 writes with this from the EE Times: "Arm Holdings chief executive officer Warren East told EE Times Wednesday that servers based on ARM multicore processors should arrive within the next twelve months. The news confirms previous speculation stemming from Google's acquisition of Agnilux and a recent job advertisement posted by Microsoft. East said that the current architecture, designed for client-side computing, can also be used in server applications."

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I feel the pain... (1, Funny)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042050)

I feel little sorry for MSFT. Just a little...

MSFT will just make a leg-based server (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042158)

Then port Windows to both.

Microsoft will then have an arm-and-a-leg OS.

Re:MSFT will just make a leg-based server (2, Funny)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042708)

>Microsoft will then have an arm-and-a-leg OS.

Finally, a feature-set to match their pricing !

Re:I feel the pain... (1)

vbraga (228124) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042302)

Really? Why? Windows supported Alpha and Itanium (MIPS too? I doesn't remember). It could just support ARM as well.

Re:I feel the pain... (1)

capo_dei_capi (1794030) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042416)

Windows NT used to support the DEC alpha [] , which is certainly a RISC architecture. But I'm pretty sure the Itanium is not a classic RISC architecture, since it's based on the explicit instruction-level parallelism paradigm.

Re:I feel the pain... (2, Insightful)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042570)

But in this case that's a good thing. It suggests that they have designed portable code (it was one of the goals of the NT architecture) so they should be able to move to another platform.

Re:I feel the pain... (3, Insightful)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042418)

The problem is more the apps, windows itself could probably be ported without too much trouble but most windows apps are likely to have code that makes x86 specific assumptions and are closed source so only the vendors can fix them.

Emulation is an option but unless arm cores start performing a LOT better than intel cores of a similar power envelope that won't help much.

Re:I feel the pain... (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042696)

MS provides email, Outlook, SQL and web server applications. Why would you need anything more?

Re:I feel the pain... (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042448)

MIPS and PowerPC. It ran competitively on most of these architectures, but the problem was always the missing third party software. If Microsoft just wants ARM servers for internal use, this wouldn't be a problem. Other people could probably manage too. Server software on Windows tends to be either written by Microsoft, open source, developed in-house, or provided by a small number of other companies. The first three mean it can just be recompiled. The fourth means that MS can apply some pressure to encourage an ARM port relatively easily.

A lot of the win32 API makes stupid 32-bit-and-little-endian assumptions, so Windows hasn't been ported to any big endian systems (PowerPC and MIPS are biendian, and Windows ran them in little endian mode). The 32-bit assumptions are hacked in win64 by using an LLP64 model, which breaks the assumption that sizeof(void*) <= sizeof(long). This is not guaranteed by the spec, but since it's true for pretty much every platform in existence before Win64, a lot of people assume that it is.

ARM is 32-bit and little endian, so userland Windows software should be pretty trivial to port. The only real difference you might notice is that ARM doesn't support unaligned loads, while x86 does (it's just really slow). An ARM OS can trap the exception caused by an unaligned load and emulate it, so even code that depends on it could work, just slowly. The only time you'll notice this in C code is if you are doing a lot of pointer casting - if the compiler can tell that it's an unaligned load, it will do two aligned loads, and shift-and-mask the results together. This is not exactly fast, but it's faster than an OS trap.

Low power server / clusters? (5, Interesting)

MC68040 (462186) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042060)

I can see myself using an ARM-based linux server in the home.

If they get proper business support from some largeish vendor pushing out rack machines then that'd be great too. All the servers I admin currently run x86 from Intel. Saying that, when idling, they're not terribly power hungry; but arm boxes should be a lot better.

Lowering power consumption is never a bad idea for your bottom line, as long as the performance-per-watt is acceptable. The first thing I thought was that it would be useful for larger clusters of machines if the performance isn't on-par with power6/x86 server chips. At the end of the day the deal breaker will be just how much performance you can get out of their server chips, which will affect what type of environment they're suitable for.

Re:Low power server / clusters? (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042094)

I would rather have a Linux server with feet processor instead of an arm processor:

There seem to be a nice example on the link below:

"This is usually when you try to bend straight in transit (storage, drop, the operation inserted in a socket, etc.) feet processor. " []

Re:Low power server / clusters? (1)

Matt_R (23461) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042226)

I would rather have a Linux server with feet processor instead of an arm processor:

I heard Tux was an extra in Happy Feet [] .. ;)

Re:Low power server / clusters? (2, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042214)

And how about small businesses?

I bet those millions of servers handling an office of five people can happily do with half the horsepower and 10% of the power use.

And I'm not just thinking of my own business.... with a 1.8 MHz or so Intel based computer idling most of the time handling the e-mail and files of my staff and me.

Re:Low power server / clusters? (4, Funny)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042252)

Your server is has a slower CPU than a Intel 8080?

Re:Low power server / clusters? (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042468)

Another advantage might be lowering the number of components. A Beagleboard would make a great low-volume server, except that it lacks any way other than USB for connecting disks and network adaptors. The same ARM core with the GPU removed and a couple of SATA and GigE controllers added would be a great SMB server platform. You could pop the OS and most apps in the flash and connect an external disk for served files. With the disk spun down, you'd be using under 2W for the rest of the system.

Performance per Watt is a useful metric, but performance-that-you-actually-use per Watt is a better one. There's no advantage to making the machine take 10W and be 100 times as fast if it's already powerful enough for your needs.

Re:Low power server / clusters? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042898)


My previous server was 6, 7 years old when it became my server. It did the job nicely until the hardware broke down. The current server is not serving up files any faster (the 100 Mbit LAN is the limiting factor), it is not serving the web pages or sending/receiving e-mail faster (again the network is the limiting factor), backups took a little longer but that no-one is waiting for so that doesn't matter.

My old server probably used less power overall, so it was better for my power bill even tough it's performance per watt certainly was worse.

I honestly hope that this kind of low-power tech becomes more mainstream, and is not just used in the handhelds and so. If only to give an alternative in the desktop/laptop market to the Intel/AMD processors. But well until Windows runs on ARM that will not happen.

Re:Low power server / clusters? (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042250)

x86 CPUs are beasts.

I'm wondering how well an ARM multi-core CPU would do just serving up files off a RAID array? x86 quad-core CPUs are probably total overkill for that - and perhaps not worth it because of the power consumption.

Yep, there's a market for ARM.

Re:Low power server / clusters? (4, Informative)

david.given (6740) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042498)

I am using an ARM-based linux server in my home. is run off a single SheevaPlug with some USB hard drives attached. This is: SMTP server (postfix), spam filter (spey), IMAP server (dovecot); web server (thttpd); Java servlet server (winstone, run in OpenJDK, interpreted. Yuck. No JIT available for ARM); my local news server (leafnode); my local DNS/DHCP server (dnsmasq); my local backup server (rsnapshot). It's also my main shell box for doing downloads and stuff.

The whole hardware stack, UPS included, consumes about 18 watts, although this varies depending on whether the hard drives are spun up or not. Most storage is on a 64GB home-made SSD (4 x 16GB USB keys & RAID!), so it's completely silent.

The SheevaPlug is a 1.2GHz Marvell ARMv5, with 512MB of RAM and 512MB of flash (which I'm not using). It cost me about 70 UKP. Unfortunately it's only got one ethernet port, so I've got way too much stuff hung off its single USB port --- and Marvell's USB hardware is notoriously dodgy. The new GuruPlug looks way more exciting: same processor, but two ethernet ports, more USB ports, and SATA!

I'm already using an ARM based server in the home. (4, Interesting)

gmarsh (839707) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042668)

I have a Marvell openrd-client. This thing has the guts of a Sheevaplug except it comes in a fancier case, uses a separate wall wart, has onboard video, more peripherals and a spot for a 2.5" hard drive inside.

I've got a 500GB 5400rpm hard drive poked inside and Debian Linux installed, and it acts as a file server, music server, torrent downloader, etc. Pulls about 8 watts from the wall, though I've got video disabled, second ethernet disabled, etc. Couldn't be happier with the thing.

Re:Low power server / clusters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042702)

Can I have one installed in my toilet seat? We have all this technology, to take us to the moon, watch movies of discs of tin foil etc, but my one dream - a toilet seat with an electronic brain - has not been realised.

Re:Low power server / clusters? (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042762)

I can see myself using an ARM-based linux server in the home.

The question is - what do you run on your home server?

Mine is mostly a file server, so I moved over to ARM last year (on a SheevaPlug, with 2 1To USB drives, mirrored of course).

If you run a lot of compute bound stuff you might be unhappy, but simple stuff probably doesn't need multicore.

Re:Low power server / clusters? (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042962)

On the home scale hassle very often is comparable to the benefit and the margin of benefit is comparable to economic perturbation (your car damaged by the snow truck during the freak-snowstorm of 2010, for example), while on the google serverfarm scale margin of benefit per a processor multiplied by the number of processors and can exceed economic perturbations.

Consider the analogy: home improvements very often are similar to the desire of the intelligent particle in the medium to avoid collisions to stay the course: the result does not depend of the efforts of such particle, it's still Brownian motion.

You installed your $20,000 (after government rebates and tax deductions) worth of solar panels on your roof only to find yourself fired and unemployed for the next year. Those $20,000 could last you much longer than that year in your house and in the end you lost it to foreclosure and had to move to your parent's basement.

What are we to do with these? (1)

growse (928427) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042066)

Forgive an ignorant person, but what sorts of server-like things are we expecting ARM chips to be good at? My understanding is that the ARM architecture is focussed on a reduced instruction set and running at low power. Does this mean I'll be able to run my 10TB Oracle data warehouse on this, or would I more likely use them in my webserver farm to save on power bills?

Re:What are we to do with these? (2, Informative)

del_diablo (1747634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042092)

Performance per watt.
ARM gives performance at without massive cost of watt. Just scaling it up would mean performance.
ARM already got performance on par with x86, but uses less then 10 times the power. Now, if people are stupid to make use of x86 for servers would not a upscaled ARM cluster beat the crap out of it? Uses less power, faster.

And RISC means power, what buzzwords are you listening too?

Re:What are we to do with these? (2, Informative)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042108)

ARM already got performance on par with x86

Pull out the benchmarks, or that's complete BS.

Re:What are we to do with these? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042136)

I'd say that ARM is on par with x86 Hz vs Hz, or even better. The problem is that ARM is barely past 1 GHz while x86 is pushing towards 4 GHz. There are just now ARM processors with two high performance cores, while x86 processors are pushing past 12 cores and climbing. There are no ARM cores that I know of that does hyper threading, while almost all x86 cores do at least two way multithreading.

So.. I'd say that we will be using x86 for high performance servers for quite some time still.
However.. putting litterally thousands of low performance ARM cores in a 3U enclosure would certainly be good for some server applications.

Re:What are we to do with these? (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042208)

I'd say that ARM is on par with x86 Hz vs Hz, or even better.

With all the caching and pipelineing and uber-high speed memory buses that x86 has, which ARM doesn't, I just don't believe you.

IOW, benchmarks or you're full of shit.

Re:What are we to do with these? (0, Troll)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042224)

I agree, and I still don't get the justification. I'm guessing it's liberal use of the word "server".

Re:What are we to do with these? (4, Informative)

dkf (304284) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042344)

IOW, benchmarks or you're full of shit.

Benchmarks are BS too. Better to check out the in-depth analyses in Microprocessor Report (that was certainly the source for this sort of thing back when I was doing this sort of hardware).

Generally speaking (at a very gross approximation!) the biggest factor in speed seems to be feature size, and ARM cores run cooler than x86 cores. ARM have focussed on the low-power end of the market far more than Intel and AMD (who have been duking it out at the high-speed end) and this means that for some applications, their stuff is absolutely best. I don't know whether that's true for server-class computing; the lower power consumption will get better packing densities but whether that will compensate for the reduced computational power I just don't know.

Of course, a good benefit in the "small server" market would be being able to run normal workloads without active cooling (i.e., fans) in a normal room. That would save loads on power and aircon. (And I know for one thing that there are ARM cores that can cope with very wide temperature variations. It's impressive when you see someone torturing a CPU with a hairdryer and – straight after – some dry-ice...)

Re:What are we to do with these? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042624)

No, benchmarks really aren't BS. Ultimately if you want to compare two systems you have to run a test workload and compare based on that. Otherwise it's all just theorical performance.

The problem with benchmarks is that they sometimes don't represent real use cases, so sometimes you don't get realistic results. This was the problem with the notorious Transmeta Crusoe benchmarks, for example.

Theoretical ARM vs x86 comparisons omit considerations such as the difficulty of making a true superscalar out-of-order ARM with similar issue width to recent x86s. When you go superscalar out-of-order with ARM, all of the RISC-like benefits basically cease to apply, because you're dealing with instructions that read three registers and update two more, and instructions that can do stupid things like address the PC as if it were a GPR. At that level of performance the ARM benefits are gone, and you have something very like an x86 in terms of performance per watt and chip area. The dirty secret about the ARM ISA is that it's massively braindamaged, which is why they'd like everyone to be using Thumb2 now please.

Re:What are we to do with these? (4, Interesting)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042562)

ARM cores have both cache and pipelines, y'know? But lets find those benchmark results by making them ourselves:

Using one core on an AMD X2 2,8GHz and an ARM Cortex A8 core at 600MHz on a beagleboard, I've done some tests. Cache-optimized matrix multiplication of two matrices at 600x600 takes 0.45 seconds on the AMD, and 4.57 seconds on the A8. That's about 10x slower. However, the A8 (in an OMAP3530 package) produces just under 1W of heat. The TDP for the AMD is 65W, but since it's dual-core let's take half of that, plus an additional 20% fuzz factor because the TDP is the maximum rating.

By this slightly fuzzy, synthetic but memory-heavy benchmark, the performance-per-watt difference is about 2,5x in favor of the ARM Cortex A8 core. One core of an AMD X2 would have to put out below 10W to beat the A8. By my fuzzy math that would mean a TDP of 25W or below for the processor.

There you go, you're welcome! :)

Re:What are we to do with these? (1)

rugger (61955) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042728)

Once you start pushing the performance envelope with the ARM core, your performance-per-watt advantage will become less pronouced.

The ARM processor looks so good in your benchmark because it is really not asking much of the silicon at all. Increase the ARM processor's clock rate to 3ghz, and you will need to add:

1) More cache to prevent memory core starvation
2) More voltage to make the silicon transistors switch faster.

This will cause the ARM processor to create a LOT more heat.

The key will be to find an acceptable performance level that doesn't work the silicon hard so you don't consume a lot of power. x86 or ARM, it doesn't really matter.

Re:What are we to do with these? (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042878)

But isn't that the whole point? Push for server performance by adding more processors, and you keep the performance per watt. If you really need fast individual cores for something that doesn't parallellize, it won't work, but I'd imagine the average web server farm would benefit.

Re:What are we to do with these? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042736)

Is this floating point multiplication? ARM processors are known for their usually horrible FP support.

Re:What are we to do with these? (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042904)

Nope, just plain integers (not long).

Re:What are we to do with these? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042336)

For some, or even for most. People used to run(I haven't checked likely) web servers on Commodore 64s, it's not like my ARM-powered sub-netbook would be unable to run a real site. If it wasn't put into that little case, with a built-in battery, I would probably be using it as a file server right now.

I will be buying a few of those if they ever come out.

I wish Loongson processors had half the backing ARM has. They are damn MIPS64 processors(the newer ones) and they have been used to build the Lemote, the only laptop with completely open source software(BIOS, wireless firmware and OS(They favor GNU/Linux but OpenBSD targets the architecture as well).

Re:What are we to do with these? (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042496)

The ARM Cortex A8 core is roughly on par with an Intel Atom, clock for clock (maybe a little slower). Of course it tops out at 1GHz, and the Atom is available up to 1.86GHz.

The ARM Cortex A9 is faster than the A8, and will be available at up to 2GHz in single, dual and quad-core versions. A quad-core 2GHz A9 can do 10,000 DMIPS in 1.9W. I would hope that such a CPU would be coupled with decent caches and memory interface, otherwise the cores will get starved.

ARM also needs a 64-bit ISA, but I'm sure that they're working on it, or have even completed it.

Re:What are we to do with these? (3, Informative)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042098)

Does this mean I'll be able to run my 10TB Oracle data warehouse on this,

Softpedia also points out that there was also no indication that the company plans to go head to head with Intel's Xeon and AMD's Opteron series

Most probably not, and definitely not if Oracle doesn't generate ARM binaries...

or would I more likely use them in my webserver farm to save on power bills?

Instead ARM may limit its options to the print and storage server market.

That's a possibility too.

Re:What are we to do with these? (1)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042206)

Low end stuff.
It simply can't do the high end stuff even when clocked at 2+Ghz as ARM is still a 32bit processor (there are some 64bit instructions but we're talking memory bus here).

I'm not aware of any ARM that can address more than 4GB of memory.

Re:What are we to do with these? (2, Interesting)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042230)

Low end stuff.

And the racks upon racks of servers that average 10% capacity. Why couldn't many of them be ARM-based? (Except for the fact that they run Windows.)

Re:What are we to do with these? (1)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042298)

Well that's my point. That sort of thing is what the ARM will be good at. Low end stuff.

Re:What are we to do with these? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042908)

You're making some questionable assumptions. Of course ARM is barely at 1ghz and doesn't have the various performance enhancements that the x86 processor family does, they've been focused on embedded devices and now some netbooks. ARM also lacks the legacy kludge that the x86 chips have as well. At some point there's going to have to be some revision of the processor to get rid of the stuff that hasn't been useful in 20 years.

But more than that, if there is an actual market for ARM based servers, all the things people've cited in other posts here can be remedied. And remedied more quickly than they were for the x86 given the understanding that hardware engineers have now about the challenges of doing it.

I'd be shocked if this doesn't come through with both Google and MS expressing some interest in it.

Re:What are we to do with these? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042228)

Ubiquiti -
Mikrotik -
BeagleBoard -

Re:What are we to do with these? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042236)

The first thing that springs to mind is fileserver. In my environment we have racks upon racks of machines doing nothing but taking data off disks and shoving it out the network. Their expensive x64 CPUs are quite idle, yet still use a considerable amount of power. ARM could be a perfect fit for this scenario.

Application specific servers (1)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042254)

Whilst ARM processors do have excellent MIPS/Watt the processors do have lower clock rates, smaller cache, slower/narrower buses so I do n't see these being very useful for general purpose multi user servers. However if your application is mainly I/O bound and you can do most of it via DMA they would be great. I can imagine for google they make alot of sense, however for something that runs on PHP like facebook less so.

Re:What are we to do with these? (3, Informative)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042262)

They can be excellent as fileservers/cloud stuff, given their performance per watt ratio, dont expect that a computing intensive task is run on them (they are barely 2-3x as fast as an atom in their recent incarnations, but at a fraction of the power an atom uses)
but they are an excellent choice for io intensive cloud like tasks where you need a load of machines and have a vfs sitting on top of it.

Re:What are we to do with these? (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042512)

Anything concurrent.

I know that one of the original developers of the ARM CPU is working on a massively multicore ARM-based project (tens of thousands of cores). Apart from just the low power aspect of ARM, what makes it good for hugely multicore projects compared to x86 is that an entire ARM core is smaller than just the part of an x86 processor that figures out the length of the next instruction - x86's ISA becomes a huge ball and chain if you want to make a massively multicore system.

Re:What are we to do with these? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042752)

How much die space do Thumb and Thumb-2 add? Precisely. Compact instruction encoding is important.

Re:What are we to do with these? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042546)

Notice that your reduced instruction set refers to (reduced instruction) set, not reduced (instruction set). Big difference there.

If you look at current x86 processors, you will see they are actually RISC processors that emulate CISC. In other words, it uses the simpler instructions to build more complex ones. This adds two things to your x86 processor: Additional overhead on the emulation (either thru microcode or extra circuitry to decode those instructions, circuitry which could have been spent doing something else) and uneeded instructions, the complex instructions can just be replaced by the reduced ones.

This is really a holy war, much like the *nix wars and the editor wars. There are both pros and cons to each side, personally I subscribe to the RISC school. All I can say is, the ARM9 Feroceon 88FR131 at 1.2GHz on my plug computer is capable of handling archlinux running a home server without a sweat or stuttering, streaming HD media and doing mySQL.

Re:What are we to do with these? (2, Interesting)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042794)

That used to be true when transistors were expensive and memory was fast. The choice used to be between more CPU registers with less instructions (RISC) or less CPU registers and more instructions (CISC). Today transistors are cheap and memory is slow, so the more things you put on die (within reason) the better. It used to be that multiplication was considered too expensive to put in the ALU of a RISC processor, or barrel shifters, today this is simply not true. In fact even RISC processors have multiply-add instructions today (e.g. Power), more complex than what you see in even a CISC like x86.

Whatever happened to MIPS? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042102)

Low power per operation and all that?


Re:Whatever happened to MIPS? (1)

GuyFawkes (729054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042428)

My RAQ2 is still going strong, home server, uses according to a kill-a-watt meter about 20 watts, which I could reduce significantly by replacing the old 80 gig IDE with a laptop drive and adapter.

Apart from that, runs stone cold, fanless, so silent, and 100% reliable.

I've tried to talk up MIPS / Cobalt before, but it has fallen on stony ground, frankly I think most /. readers just have zero hands on knowledge of these devices.

The RAQ550 and XTR (got 2 each of them too) were abominations by comparison with the 2, also got two 4's running 550 OS.

Long live MIPS

Re:Whatever happened to MIPS? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042840)

Cobalt was bought by Sun which was bought by Oracle IIRC. Also Cobalt delved into X86 processors later in their design cycle. MIPS was not cheap enough.

AFAIK there are some Chinese CPUs which are MIPS compatible (Loongson) and Tilera's design is also MIPS like.

Re:Whatever happened to MIPS? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042808)

I guess they never could license it properly, or the licensees lack volume. Also MIPS R&D was usually done by SGI. Well SGI was never exactly interested neither in low power, nor in being cheap. I guess that matters.

To serve what (0, Troll)

wmac (1107843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042118)

ARM based servers are coming to serve what?

ARM is not even that suitable for a PC. On a server you need multiple fast cores and good I/O. Which of these are provided by an existing ARM CPU?

In my opinion if there are 10 fields that ARM can be used , this one is the worse.

Re:To serve what (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042204)

some say you need good perf/watt and low idle power ?

Re:To serve what (0, Troll)

wmac (1107843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042300)

I am more than fine with that. But the question that what it is going to serve remains there.

We need to see what applications can be run on such a server? By focusing on idle power we are talking about an application server which is being used a limited period of the day? Or a server which is rarely used?

Otherwise, even a mobile phone can be used as a server. In fact we used mobile phones as grid computing nodes in our lab (which serve computing power to the grid). But it was just something to prove such a crazy idea is possible but not practical necessarily)

Re:To serve what (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042506)

Afaict datacenters generally charge based on peak current anyway since much of the cost of datacenter electricity is actually in the infrastructure (generators, UPSs etc).

Performance per watt does matter to an extent but performance of individual threads also matters. The longer each individual request takes to deal with the more ram you need and the longer you keep any DB locks open for increasing the chance of lock contention there.

Another big problem with arm is that you can't rely on the presence of any particular floating point instructions. So you either compile everything for the specific FPU variant you have or you end up using softfloat

Re:To serve what (2, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042306)

You don't need multiple fast cores necessarily - it depends on the server.

You do need good I/O on most servers. The earlier benchmarks of the Sun T1 was a nice example of this. IIRC 8 cores, each with two threads of execution, back when x86 was single and dual core. The cores were wimpy, but on many server applications (web, file, I believe database) it beat x86.

You need a lot of cores, yes, but they don't need to be powerful for most server applications - since most are parallel.

They are already here (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042144)

Depending on your needs you can already use ARM servers. This is perfect as a dns server, dhcp server, firewall, mail server or even a webserver on a small network. I really like using those devices as 'physical virtual servers': ideal as an isolated, task oriented server for tasks that do not need a full fledged server.

I have one of these at home (with Debian on it and a 2TB hard disk attatched).

MIPS (1)

CondeZer0 (158969) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042166)

It is nice to see some alternatives to the x86-monoculture coming along, but I wish MIPS was still around, it is a beautiful architecture with the same efficiency advantages of Arm but an even cleaner design.

Re:MIPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042270)

It is nice to see some alternatives to the x86-monoculture coming along, but I wish MIPS was still around, it is a beautiful architecture with the same efficiency advantages of Arm but an even cleaner design.

AFAICS it's still going. There was a recent announcement [] of a MIPS SOC with a built-in GPU.

Re:MIPS (1)

ishobo (160209) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042272)

Still around? MIPS is going strong in the embedded market. My company works on transit systems and MIPS represents about half of our work. There are lots of networking products that uses MIPS, from the customer to the core. RMI has a MIPS64 eight core SoC with four threads per core.

Re:MIPS (1)

CondeZer0 (158969) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042338)

I'm aware that MIPS is alive and well in the embedded world, but it has pretty much disappeared from the server market where it used to have a very strong presence.

Also, for somebody just interested in playing around with alternative architectures, it has become harder and harder to find cheap MIPS systems to play around with (the PS2 was a mips system, but the PS3 is PPC, the PSP is probably the only easily 'hackable' MIPS hardware still being produced in considerable quantities).

And yes, I'm aware of the Chinese MIPS laptops, but they not easy to find and at least outside china they seem overpriced given their specs. But maybe there is still hope...

Re:MIPS (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042894)

Well, PS2 is a MIPS system...production continues and Sony stated it will continue as long as demand for consoles and games is there (new ones scheduled for this year, too)

That's probably in large part due to so called "3rd world" countries, but I'm sure you can pick one up easily where you are.

Re:MIPS (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042340)

Also, just to add to your list, the Sony PSP runs on MIPS IIRC

Re:MIPS (2, Interesting)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042282)

You can get a MIPS64 netbook today, it's called Lemote Yeeloong.

Re:MIPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042390)

No, you can't. Not a single store sells them and the company behind it doesn't even bother to put out a english version of their mandarin site. In fact, does this product even exist beyond press releases and marketing ploys?

Re:MIPS (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042492)

They weren't selling outside of China due to patent issues preventing import into anywhere that the MIPS Technology patents were valid (which is most of the western world - they're hardware patents). That should change now that they've licensed the patents. A few have been available before then - I've heard from a couple of people using them, but they had to import them themselves.

Re:MIPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042842)

The patent that MIPS was suing everyone over (US 4814976) expired in 2006.

Re:MIPS (1)

ld a,b (1207022) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042350)

I don't think Loongson is dead just yet.

MIPS64 for you. They even bought a license after doing it the arr way. []

Fairy Tale: ARMs Race Against x86 (5, Funny)

reporter (666905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042176)

ARM is almost like a fairy tale in which the underdog triumphs. ARM was developed on a shoestring budget by a small team of brilliant anti-establishment engineers. By contrast, the x86 processor was developed on a multi-million-dollar budget by a large team of disciplined slaves across 2 continents.

ARM is David. x86 is Goliath.

Most of us inherently favor David.

Re:Fairy Tale: ARMs Race Against x86 (3, Insightful)

devent (1627873) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042220)

I favour anyone who can build and deliver a laptop with 12 hours battery live. In addition, a low power ARM server for office work (small and middle enterprise) is a nice to have, too. I think most users don't give a piece if it's x86 or ARM, as long as their applications are running and it's a good deal. I, for myself, am really glad finally see any innovation in desktop CPUs. I thought in 20 years we will still be using x86 compatible CPUs.

Re:Fairy Tale: ARMs Race Against x86 (2, Insightful)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042256)

I've always thought that the x86 architecture is a dead horse beaten to the speed of light. It is the 21th century and we need something slightly better than rocks and sticks and x86 to throw at the old monstrosity known as computation. If we're still going to depend on x68 in 20 years I'd rather kill myself by banging my head against an x86 chip.

Re:Fairy Tale: ARMs Race Against x86 (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042274)

well i bought a R3 6 years ago. with a R6-9 battery which adds like 1000 mah it reaches 12-13H and its a lot faster than any atom or arm based netbook of course. stock, i had approx 10h

note that this is with 50% brightness, doing basically text and stuff, browsing with wifi is prolly a few hours less give or take

that's a pentium m ulv for the record

Re:Fairy Tale: ARMs Race Against x86 (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042232)

Of course, you can spin it another way. ARM is an IP company - they don't make chips, they make IP (their architecture specifications, and their CPU designs) that they then license to other companies. Then again, they're not a patent troll, their IP is generally fairly good (even if the various architecture versions and features are ridiculously confusing,) and they actually do license it, rather than just keep it so they can sue people.

Re:Fairy Tale: ARMs Race Against x86 (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042786)

They also usually license designs rather than just ideas.

The architecture licences (to Intel and others) may be exceptions.

Re:Fairy Tale: ARMs Race Against x86 (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042266)

s/anti establishment/shoestring budget and you are correct :-)
ARM nowadays is a big company but originally it was a sidedevelopment for the next BBC machine.

Re:Fairy Tale: ARMs Race Against x86 (1)

Haxamanish (1564673) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042556)

I used to run MS-DOS (*) in the x86 software emulator on my 4-8MHz (**) ARM2-based BBC Archimedes in 1987 - some people then refused to believe this was even possible.

(*) MS-DOS 5.2 IIRC - I needed the TopSpeed Modula2 compiler for my programming assignments & WordPerfect to open some docs.

(**) 4 MHz when reading ROM, 8 MHz when reading RAM (there was a command to copy the entire ROM into RAM in Arthur 0.2/RISC OS 1.2)

Re:Fairy Tale: ARMs Race Against x86 (1)

Zoxed (676559) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042450)

> ARM is David. x86 is Goliath.

ARM is British. x86 is from that-place-across-the-water-that-seems-to-be-doing-quite-well. :-)

Re:Fairy Tale: ARMs Race Against x86 (1)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042574)

Israel? I thought that was where the current Intel Architecture was designed?

Re:Fairy Tale: ARMs Race Against x86 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042566)

Anti-establishment in what sense?

Are ARM chips planning a reactionary counter-revolution to overthrow the state? Is the branch predictor full of anarchy, the instruction cache full of civil disorder?

For Christ's sake, these guys were funded by the BBC. You don't get any more Establishment.

Also, your David versus Goliath comparison is bizarre. Did you actually read that bit of the Bible? Because David is already king of embedded systems and has a bit more to fight with than just a sling and a stone.

Re:Fairy Tale: ARMs Race Against x86 (1)

Sleepy (4551) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042942)

You misunderstand - just know that words have multiple meanings. No, really - it's true. (rolls eyes).

OK, ARM is "twice" David:
1) for being a challenger to the biggest chipmaker, Intel
2) because ARM is RISC... and RISC has always been a niche or vertical application part challenging the dominant CISC designs (Intel, AMD).

LEG (-1, Offtopic)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042216)

LEG-based servers by 2012!

Re:LEG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042424)

Available already. They just cost you an ARM and a LEG.

Btw. just running on ARMs seems a bit backwards.

It makes some sense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042288)

If you can use an arm based server farm as base infrastructure to deploy a VM OS like VMWare, or other.

It would have a performance handicap, but the power costs would be lower and it would be flexible. And probably makes a lot of sense if you are hosting cycle hungry applications.
And even for those it could be solved by adding extra machines to share the load.

For example on a navy ship it would make perfect sense, you could have a series of small distributed clusters, all running a distributed virtual OS running the ship's main operations and integration functions.
If necessary it could be possible to degrade the service to save power, and when it's necessary run more services.

Competition is good. (2, Interesting)

robcfg (1005359) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042386)

After many years, Intel finally has some challenge. And for those of you who doubt what ARM chips are able to do, I'll tell that I've been surfing the web and chatting through MSN Messenger on an Acorn A7000+, which runs on a 48 Mhz ARM 7500FE. Now, if they can raise that to 2ghz, I see very nice performance while still retaining a fairly low power consumption.

Or people could stop buying stupidly large gear (2, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042434)

I requested a small server for a project at work - the minimum my shop buys is an 8-way,16GB beast. I need to run 1 single-threaded app, and I get this.

Re:Or people could stop buying stupidly large gear (1)

arndawg (1468629) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042596)

But we, the people, don't buy stupidly large gear. We virtualize. What kind of place is this?

beagleboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042442)

i already have a beagleboard as a home server. :-)

Beowulf cluster (4, Funny)

threaded (89367) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042514)

What's the point of a Beowulf cluster if it doesn't cause the lights to dim when you're performing your mad scientist calculations?

Cool - a Windows 7 Mobile Server?! (1)

howardd21 (1001567) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042578)

Inevitably, somebody will try a server running Windows mobile or one of the other phone OSes, and have no multitasking or cut and paste, and which runs only SilverLight or XNA apps. Oh the humanity.

Re:Cool - a Windows 7 Mobile Server?! (1)

Tapewolf (1639955) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042676)

The Casio IT500 (Windows CE 4) shipped out-of-the-box with running web, FTP and telnet services. I have no idea why, since it was the sort of thing you'd use to scan package barcodes in a warehouse.

OK (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32042598)

I assume this is in response to the $200 Intel Atom based servers [] out there now.

Linux for the win, even if Microsoft plays (2, Insightful)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042758)

As the cost of energy continues to rise (due to purely political reasons rather than any actual scarcity, which is sad) there's going to be more and more demand for computing equipment with low power consumption. ARM fits that requirement nicely ... and it's all going to be running Linux, even if Microsoft enters the game.


Windows running on ARM would suffer from the same (imho perceived) problem that desktop Linux on x86 has: it wouldn't be able to run Windows x86 binaries. In fact, for Microsoft it would actually be worse because they'd have to deal with irate customers who thought they'd be able to pop in that CD and install some application they already own.

Linux has been playing this one well by establishing a large base of open source software that can be built on any platform. Combine this with your favorite APT or YUM repository and what do you get? The equivalent of an "app store" which is something the world is now quite familiar with. Linux for the win!/p?

I must be missing something (0, Flamebait)

jjohn (2991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042792)

Wikipedia says that ARM's are 32-bit RISC processors from the stone age used in many mobile and embedded devices. Why on earth are these attractive for modern servers?

Even if you could get a thousand of these CPUs in one box and the energy consumption is less than a comparable Intel/AMD system, these are seemingly less capable processors.

Re:I must be missing something (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042934)

Why on earth are these attractive for modern servers?

Because you would be able to run a server room without 20 tons of cooling equipment and the associated costs.

This is all messed up! (1)

cpscotti (1032676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042818)

And will they run OS X? with fancy faboi(ish) desktop effects!!

What's next? iPhones for as industry machinery controllers?

I'm off!

4 GB of DRAM ought to be enough for anybody (4, Insightful)

DrDitto (962751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32042936)

ARM currently supports 4 GB of memory since the ISA is 32-bits. Full 64-bit addessing support is years away. Interim "PAE" extensions will be just as ugly and unused as the x86 PAE.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>