ARM-based processors have long been a staple when it comes to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, but processors are branching out with a whole new development. HP is turning to the processors to power a whole new platform, specifically, parts of its Moonshot server line. HP has turned to the processors sufficiently that, according to reports, it has not only looked to bring in the processors to serve as part of the Moonshot, but there’s also new support for firms looking to develop in this direction as well.
Getting ARM-based processors into things other than smartphones and tablets has been something of a challenge for a while now, despite the idea that the use of such processors has long been encouraged by those looking to bring in an alternative to the Intel x86 line for lower-energy servers. But with HP’s new m400 and m800 server modules, what’s being regarded as the “…first serious attempt at a 64-bit ARM-based enterprise server…” is beginning to emerge. Reports suggest that the first such examples of this new technology will be ready for exhibition at the upcoming ARM TechCon event in Santa Clara, and there are even applications said to be in the works for showing as well.
The m400 itself is said to be geared toward Web serving, offering up a particular speed in that branch of operations. It’s based on the X-Gene Server on a Chip (SoC) concept from Applied Micro Circuits, and to that end boasts both Julu and Metal-as-a-Service (MaaS) software, along with Canonical Ubuntu Linux and the IBM Informix database system. Meanwhile, the m800 is the more powerful version of the duo, geared toward data processing done both rapidly and with high total volumes of operation. It packs in Canonical software as well, along with HP’s 2D Torus Mesh Fabric, Serial Rapid I/O, and a set of Keystone ARM-based SoCs, all of which pack in fully four ARM Cortex A-15 cores backed up by integrated digital signal processors (DSPs).
There’s even already some use of these devices being seen; the m400 is a part of the operations at the Sandia National Laboratories in Utah, and PayPal is said to be turning to the m800 as part of its systems intelligence project, better allowing the company to spot fraud and the like by looking for patterns in the system, as well as deviations from patterns.
It would be easy to quietly dismiss the m400 and the m800, calling such systems little more than networked smartphones with delusions of grandeur. But there’s little doubt that there’s interest in such systems; after all, smartphone processors routinely handle hours of individual use on the strength of a battery charge, so being able to bring several of these together on standard household current certainly suggests that there’s power to be had here and for less energy than might normally be required. That suggests, in turn, savings to be had on kilowatt-hours, and any savings—particularly these days—are worth at least considering.
While not every data center operation will be able—or even find it advantageous—to make the move to m400 and m800 systems, the idea that it might be a good idea is certainly present. It’s a move worth considering for anyone looking to open or expand a data center, and it may be a move that not only provides the kind of processing power that’s required, but can do so for less electrical power than is normally called for.