ARM Servers Get a Fluffy OpenStack Testbed in the Cloud

July 18, 2012 No Comments


Intel rules the data center, but it’s getting some competition from ARM, the company that’s best known for designing the chips that power your iPhone.

Hewlett-Packard, Canonical and server-chip startup Calxeda, unveiled a new software testbed where developers can try OpenStack cloud software that runs on ARM chips.

They’ve opened up the ARM testbed in TryStack, run in an Austin, Texas, datacenter called CoreNAP. TryStack already supports Intel’s x86 chips.

It’s a small but important step toward giving Intel a run for its money in the cloud.

ARM chips have done well on smartphones and mobile devices because they don’t burn a lot of power, but traditionally they haven’t been able to handle the large amounts of memory that servers need to process data center loads. That’s changing with the latest ARM designs and lately a handful of companies — Calxeda and chip-maker Marvel to name two — have tried to make a go of it in the ARM server market.

Last fall, HP announced that it would try out Calxeda’s designs in a new line of servers, code-named Moonshot. And Linux-maker Canonical has thrown its weight behind ARM too.

The trick is that all of the popular data center software has to be rewritten and re-tested in order to move it from Intel to ARM-based chips. That’s why the ARM-backers need testbeds like TryStack, where software developers can experiment with and tweak their programs to see if they’ll work on this emerging platform.

Dell wants to launch its own ARM-testbed by year’s end. Dell is developing a 48-processor ARM server code-named Copper.

“We’re trying to grow the ecosystem around ARM chips,” Dell’s Steve Cumings, told Wired back in May.


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