Dell introduces ARM servers

By Joseph F. Kovar, on May 31, 2012 8:04 AM
Filed under Hardware

Test-dev platform for low power consumption apps.

Dell yesterday unveiled its ARM processor-based strategy with word it is making the technology available to customers for developing and testing applications designed for hyper-scalable environments.

Dell also moved its "Crowbar" ARM-based management framework software to open source.

Dell's ARM server plans are similar to those of HP's "Project Moonshot," a new program that targets the sharing of storage, networking, management, power and cooling resources across thousands of energy-efficient servers.

Dell's ARM processor-based server strategy has three primary components, said Steve Cumings, executive director of marketing for Dell's data center solutions.

The first is the delivery of ARM-based Copper-branded servers to a select group of customers, including both larger and smaller customers, as a way to understand how the servers work with their workloads, Cumings said.

"We're not announcing general availability of the servers," he said. "This is just for these folks who want to understand the advantages of ARM."

The second is to deliver servers to partners such as Canonical, which provides engineering and services for the Ubuntu software platform, and Cloudera, which develops software for the Apache Hadoop big data platform.

The third component is Dell's placing of ARM Copper-based server clusters in Dell Solution Centers and in the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) and making them available remotely to customers to better understand the technology. "Customers can log in remotely, schedule time, and do test and development on the servers," he said.

In all three cases, the Dell ARM Copper servers are targeted at helping partners and customers develop web server and Hadoop applications for high-density, low power consumption environments, Cumings said.

Dell is also delivering its open source Crowbar management framework and Crowbar Hadoop applications for ARM servers, he said.

The Dell Copper server is a 3U chassis with room for up to 12 "sleds" or plug-in cards, each of which has four 64-bit ARM-based servers and four hard drives or SSDs. The servers are based on the Armada version of the ARM processor from Santa Clara, Calif.-based Marvell Semiconductor.

Each 3U chassis, therefore, includes 48 ARM-based servers, Cumings said. Each server has a 1-Gbit Ethernet connector into a non-blocking L2 switch per sled, he said.

Dell, HP partner with Calxeda

HP is working with server developer Calxeda, which came out of stealth mode last year. Calxeda's ARM processors use 32-bit technology.

Like Dell, HP is using its ARM-based servers as a test and development platform for partners looking to develop low-power, high-density server applications.

Each Marvell-based 64-bit ARM server consumes about 15 Watts of power compared to about 5 Watts for a Calxeda-based 32-bit ARM server.

Calxeda is also a Dell server partner.

This article originally appeared at

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