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Battle ready: HP rolls out first 64bit ARM-based server

30 Sep 2014  | Rick Merritt

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Sandia, which was not available for comment, and the University of Utah are using their systems mainly for scientific research.

The Utah system will consist of seven Moonshot chassis that are part of one of three nodes in CloudLab, a testbed for cloud computing research supported by the National Science Foundation. Two other CloudLab locations will use standard x86 servers from Cisco and Dell.

The m400 systems were chosen specifically to give researchers a chance to develop code on ARM-based servers. The team did not conduct any evaluation as part of its purchase, which was negotiated at a "substantial discount," says Robert Ricci, a research assistant professor of computer science at the University of Utah.

"I knew going into this I was interested in ARM server chips, and Applied and HP are what's out there now," he says. "We knew researchers would want to work on equipment with lower power and cost and higher density than x86 servers typically deliver."

Given its goal as a research vehicle, availability of software was not a focus for the system, which should go live by early November. "Researchers tend to use a lot of open-source code that can be compiled for ARM—that's not trivial, but I'm not worried about commercial binary software availability because a lot of the software will be code researchers build themselves," says Ricci.

A PayPal spokesperson was not available at press time to talk about its choice of the TI-based m800 servers. The system uses HP's 2D Torus Mesh Fabric in combination with Serial Rapid I/O, geared for jobs both in telecom networks and in datacenters handling what Bocher calls "complex event processing."

The system's "high-speed, low-latency networking and tiered memory management creates a very energy-efficient, extremely capable parallel processing platform with a familiar Linux interface," said Ryan Quick, principal architect in PayPal's advanced technology group, speaking in an HP press release. "It's a truly new approach to bringing scale-out design 'inside the box,' and breaks barriers between high performance computing and enterprise technology."

For telecom OEMs, HP will bundle the m800 with communications software from Enea, of Kista, Sweden, and eInfochips, of Sunnyvale, Calif. The code is geared to attract use in emerging virtual network deployments.

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