ARM TechCon Preview: Dell Enables 64-bit ARM Ecosystem Development

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be at ARM TechCon in Santa Clara for what’s always a great event that gathers hardware engineers and software developers to discuss optimizing ARM-based designs. We’re pleased to share that the Dell Data Center Solutions team is bringing together our ARM ecosystem partners AppliedMicro, ARM Holding, PMC, and Red Hat at ARM TechCon for our first demonstration of the readiness of 64-bit ARM technology to enable customers to power real world workloads.

Dell began developing microserver technology back in 2007 and has worked closely with select Dell DCS hyperscale customers to understand their workloads, expectations and requirements. We believe the 64-bit ARM-based processor demonstrates promise for storage and Web front-end environments, where advantages in dollars per gigabyte, watts per gigabyte, performance per dollar, and performance per watt are critical.

As the ARM server ecosystem is in its early stages, Dell’s focus has been on addressing today’s market realities – that is, enabling developers and customers to create code and test performance with 32-bit ARM servers. However, as we have been discussing with customers and analysts, 64-bit will be required for broad-based adoption and we are currently developing architectures based upon 64-bit solutions.

Dell and Partners Demonstrate 64-bit ARM Momentum

Dell DCS is convening AppliedMicro, ARM Holding, PMC, and Red Hat to demonstrate for the first time a 64-bit Dell server running Fedora, a community-supported Linux distribution, on AppliedMicro 64-bit system on a chip with PMC’s industry-standard native 16-port 12Gb/s SAS storage solution running Dell JBOD. This is a key milestone for customers seeking to run real world workloads on 64-bit ARM technology. If you’re attending ARM TechCon, please visit ARM’s booth #300 for a demo.

We plan to deliver a proof of concept solution based on AppliedMicro’s 64-bit ARM technology in early 2014, to further accelerate the development of the 64-bit ARM ecosystem and support testing with select customers.

"ARM is delighted to see Dell achieve another milestone by showcasing its servers at ARM TechCon harnessing ARMv8 compatible processors from AppliedMicro," said Lakshmi Mandyam, director, Server Systems and Ecosystems, ARM. “Hyperscale customers running large Web, cloud, and big data environments are constantly seeking new technological advances to reduce costs. This search is driving the evaluation and deployment of innovative, energy efficient ARM-based server platforms that are optimized to deliver meaningful benefit for real world workloads.”

"We're proud to lead the ecosystem of partners delivering 64-bit processing technology with X-Gene, the world’s first enterprise-class server on a chip solution," said Dr. Paramesh Gopi, president and CEO of AppliedMicro. "The combination of AppliedMicro silicon, ARM architecture, and Dell servers will deliver leading-edge power efficiency, reliability, and system performance for enterprise customers worldwide."

I will discuss our plans during the “CIO Vision for 2014 and Beyond” roundtable tomorrow at ARM TechCon. I’ll join ARM partners and end users on stage for a discussion of the current direction of the ARM architecture and how it will shape hardware, software, and enterprise services in the years ahead.

Dell’s Continued Investments in the ARM Ecosystem

This demonstration of 64-bit ARM technology is the next milestone in Dell’s investments to enable the growth of the ARM ecosystem. We’ve gained great insights into customer workloads as a result of our program, begun in May 2012, seeding Dell “Copper“ ARM-based servers with Web and hyperscale customers such as EP Analytics.  

“We are dedicated to helping our government and private sector clients maximize their return on investment in their high-performance computing systems,” said Laura Carrington, co-founder and vice president of research at EP Analytics, Inc. “We have utilized Dell’s Copper server to conduct testing of high performance computing workloads on a 32-bit ARM-based system versus x86 systems. It is early days, but we are encouraged by the results so far and see significant potential for 64-bit ARM servers as an energy-efficient solution to high performance computing and big data applications.”

Dell also donated the Dell "Zinc" ARM-based server concept to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) in October 2012. The donation included the ARM-based server concept running Calxeda EnergyCore as well as hosting and technical support for the ASF community. Copper and Zinc are available for remote access via our Dell Austin Solution Center hosting site, and Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC – UT) for academic developer access. Our current priority is supporting application development and testing of the ARM-based server ecosystem, and we will bring a 64-bit ARM-based server to general availability when customer and ecosystem readiness are aligned.

So I hope to see you at ARM TechCon for a demonstration in booth #300. If you're not there in person, you can keep up with ARM TechCon developments by following the #ARMTechCon hashtag. 

About the Author: Robert Hormuth

Robert Hormuth is Vice President/Fellow and CTO of Dell EMC Server Solutions Group. Robert has 29 years in the computer industry. Robert joined Dell in 2007 after 8 years with Intel and 11 years at National Instruments. Robert and his team focus on future server architectures and technology driving future technology intercepts onto the server portfolio. Robert’s past design/architecture activities include IO peripheral designs, x86 (386, 486, Pentium, Pentium Pro, Pentium II/III) system design, BIOS, firmware, Application Software, and FPGA/ASIC design. Robert has participated in creation of multiple industry standards - VME, VXI, PCI, PXI, PCIe, NVMe, RedFish, SSDFF. Robert has a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and currently holds 16 patents.