Chris J Powell

Will ARM Based Servers be the Next Big Thing?

With a Global movement to reduce the power consumption of Data Centers (a report from Green Peace last year pins the carbon foot print of Data Centers at about 2% of the total world wide), ARM and Intel Atom based servers are moving up stream at a very fast pace.  I did some digging and most of the big players are leveraging ARM Servers in clusters…and are currently in proof of concept.  I thought I would take a look at a few of them today.

We have all experienced the power of ARM based processors take our Mobile phones from Text Messaging devices to fully enabled mobile computers but to think that this same power could be then applied into a Data Center is absolutely incredible.  Combine that with the maturity of current Virtualization technology and it is actually an impressive move towards energy and space efficiency!

The HP Project MoonShot is one such proof of concept design that leverages the power of Cluster Computing and in many cases could replace a large chunk of a Data Center with a single Chassis.

The Stats on this powerhouse are impressive but not as impressive as the potential savings as noted by HP Fellow Partha Ranganathan:

“Our research suggests that for the kinds of workloads and applications that we’re now seeing in hyper-scale environments, we ought to be able to reduce energy consumption by 89%, use 94% less space and see costs that are 63% lower compared to traditional systems,”

As you can see, there are 4 trays each holding 16 servers…that is a total of 64 servers all contained within a 4U Chassis…that is a lot of power, but according to HP Labs the Chassis itself can be configured to include full Networking, Storage and Computing all in one with each being designed to do the functions that are needed.

Dell has two similar projects underway, the Dell Copper and the Dell Zinc.

The two designs from Dell take different approaches, the Zinc is all about pure power, being able to throw up to 360 Server Nodes at a 4U Chassis, while the Dell Copper is more of Mini Blade System that takes a 3U Chassis and enables 48 separate Servers to operate…all at the extreme power savings that ARM Processors are so well known for.

So you say…these are great looking and will do wonders for us in the future…but when can we get them?  Well if you are a Dell or HP preferred customer, both companies are looking to test the platform and prove the value…for general consumption, both companies are saying early 2014.

If you are looking for something that you can sink your teeth into now…unfortunately, I spent the better part of today searching…and found lots of links…but no option to do a 3 click purchase.


Chris J Powell


3 thoughts on “Will ARM Based Servers be the Next Big Thing?

  1. I’m really looking forward to seeing servers like these in datacentres and server rooms. Unfortunately, and realistically, we’ll also need to see either Windows Server 2012 support ARM processors, or Intel’s CPUs be powerful enough (while producing low amounts of heat) to slot into these chassis. Lots of things can be done with Linux… you and I both know that… but many small and medium-sized businesses are Windows-only shops. But then again, the most immediate customers for these types of servers are hosting companies who will no doubt be eager to replace legacy hardware with these super-compact clusters, and are mostly Linux shops.

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