ARM's CoreLink family feels right at home in the server room

Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2014 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: arm, servers, CoreLink, CCN-508, CN-504

ARM has a new chip on the block, the CCN-508,  It is a capable of combining up to eight 64-bit ARMv8 CPU clusters of four cores apiece, either all ARM Cortex-53s or ARM Cortex-57s, using ARM's AMBA 5 CHI interconnect technology.  Those processors can then be attached to a wide variety of what ARM refers to as partners, including up to 24 other AMBA interconnects for other CPUs, DDR3 or DDR4 memory controllers, PCIe, SATA, and 10-40 gigabit Ethernet.  So much for ARM just being a mobile processor; check out more at The Register.

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"ARM has released more details about the innards of its cache-coherent on-chip networking scheme for use cases ranging from storage to servers to networking – specifically, its CCN-5xx microarchitecture family and its newest member, the muscular CoreLink CCN-508."

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Source: The Register

IBM Sells x86 Server Market to Lenovo

Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 25, 2014 - 07:42 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, IBM, x86, servers

Lenovo will take (or purchase) the x86 torch away from IBM in the high-end server and mainframe market, too. The deal is worth $2.3 billion of which $2 billion will be cash, the remains will be paid to IBM in stock. IBM walked away from talks with Lenovo last year in a deal that was believed to be similar to this one.

Lenovo, famously, took over IBM's PC business in 2005.

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... which is increasingly not IBM.

x86-based servers have been profitable, even for IBM. This is yet another example of a large company with a desire to increase their margins at the expense of overall profits. This is similar to the situation with HP when they considered getting out of consumer devices. Laptops and desktops were still profitable but not as much as, say, an ink cartridge. Sometimes leaving money on the table tells a better story and that is okay. Someone will take it.

Lenovo will also become an authorized reseller of IBM cloud computing and storage solutions (plus some of their software). IBM will continue to operate their server and mainframe businesses based on their own architectures (such as Power and Z/Architecture).

Approximately 7,500 of IBM's current employees will be hired by Lenovo as a part of this agreement. Unfortunately, I do not know how many current employees are affected. 7,500 could be the vast majority of that workforce or only a small fraction of it. Hopefully this deal will not mean too many layoffs, if any at all.

Source: Ars Technica

AMD and ARM want to bring about an evolution in the server room

Subject: General Tech | September 18, 2013 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: amd, arm, Cortex-A57, servers, seattle

DigiTimes spoke with AMD's current server guru about their move from providing only x86/64 based processors in their server chips to the inclusion of ARM cores in the Seattle chip family.  These will be the first processors from AMD using 64-bit Cortex-A57 cores and they hope to sell them to companies who depend on Hadoop or run web hosting services which will benefit from scalability.  As these will be true APUs as well, any application which can be accelerated by a GPU will also greatly benefit from the new design from AMD.  It is AMD's hope that they will be able to offer server customers a choice in the architecture they want to use in their server rooms and able to choose between more than just competing x86/64 chips.

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"Commenting on AMD's decision to make ARM-based processors for servers, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's server business, Suresh Gopalakrishnan, said that as more server applications will show up in the future, different architectures will provide different advantages to clients. Providing solutions based on market demand will be the major business strategy for AMD's server business, Gopalakrishnan noted."

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Source: DigiTimes

Windows Server 2012 R2, now featuring a clipboard shared across VMs

Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2013 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: servers, windows server 2012 R2, microsoft, nifty, RDMA

If you play with VM's in a Windows environment you have probably gotten quite good at using FTP as that was the easiest way to copy files or even text between two or more of your virtual machines.  No more will you need to do that as the new version of Windows Server will have a shared clipboard allowing you to copy and paste not just text but also files between your VMs.  They will still limit you to 64 virtual CPUs but they did add Remote Direct Memory Access which offers a huge boost in speed to your machines and for doing live migrations.  Check out more at The Register.

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"If you want to see a TechEd audience break into spontaneous applause – and here I am one-hundred-percent serious – give them something that they really care about. Like a shared clipboard. The people running virtual servers really did interrupt Benjamin Armstrong, Microsoft Hyper-V program manager, to applaud the simple act of being able to cut and paste text or files between VMs."

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Source: The Register

ARM was right, they can steal server rooms from under the noses of AMD and Intel

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2013 - 03:18 PM |
Tagged: arm, 64bit, servers

With Calxeda and Applied Micro showing off ARM64 based servers at Computex this year, in addition to the existing products coming from Marvell and Dell, DigiTimes prediction that 64bit ARM processors will quickly grow in popularity seems to be based in fact.  It was not too long ago that many thought that ARM was fooling themselves if they thought they could take server space from AMD and Intel but it looks like they were right to develop server chips.  With low power usage becoming more popular than processor overkill and modularity growing in importance ARM seems poised to perform far beyond expectations.  Expect to see a lot more new on ARM64 processors and products over the coming months.

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"Although Intel platforms are still the mainstream in the server industry, since 64-bit products have a broader range of applications, and ARM has been aggressively promoting related products, sources from the server industry expect more 64-bit ARM-based products to appear in the market between the end of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014."

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Source: DigiTimes

Applied Micro's X-Gene SoC Will Be Used In HP Project Moonshot Servers

Subject: Systems | April 19, 2013 - 03:56 AM |
Tagged: servers, project moonshot, microserver, hp, arm, Applied Micro Circuits, 64-bit

A recent press release from AppliedMicro (Applied Micro Circuits Corporation) announced that the company’s X-Gene server on a chip technology would be used in an upcoming HP Project Moonshot server.

HP Project Moonshot Server Chassis.jpg

An HP Moonshot server (expect the X-Gene version to be at least slightly different).

The X-Gene is a 64-bit ARM SoC that combines ARM processing cores with networking and storage offload engines as well as a high-speed interconnect networking fabric. AppliedMicro designed the chip to provide ARM-powered servers that will reportedly reduce the Total Cost of Ownership of running webservers in a data center by reducing upfront hardware and ongoing electrical costs.

Applied Micro X-Gene SoC.jpg

The X-Gene chips that will appear in HP’s Project Moonshot servers feature a SoC with eight AppliedMicro-designed 64-bit ARMv8 cores clocked at 2.4GHz, four ARM Cortex A5 cores for running the Software Defined Network (SDN) controller, and support for storage IO, PCI-E IO, and integrated Ethernet (four 10Gb Ethernet links). The X-Gene chips are located on card-like daughter cards that slot into a carrier board that has networking fabric to connect all the X-Gene cards (and the SoCs on those cards). Currently, servers using X-Gene SoCs require a hardware switch to connect all of the X-Gene cards in a rack. However, the next-generation 28nm X-Gene chips will eliminate the need for a rack-level hardware switch as well as featuring 100Gb networking links).

The X-Gene chips in HP Project Moonshot will use relatively little power compared to Xeon-based solutions. AppliedMicro has stated that eh X-Gene chips will be at least two-times as power efficient, but has not officially release power consumption numbers for the X-Gene chips under load. However, at idle the X-Gene SoCs will use as little as 500mW and 300mW of power at idle and standby (sleep mode) respectively. The 64-bit quad issue, Out of Order Execution chips are some of the most-powerful ARM processors to date, though they will soon be joined by ARM’s own 64-bit design(s). I think the X-Gene chips are intriquing, and I am excited to see how well they fare in the data center environment running server applications. ARM has handily taken over the mobile space, but it is still relatively new in the server world. Even so, the 64-bit ARM chips by AppliedMicro (X-Gene) and others are the first step towards ARM being a viable option for servers.

X-Gene Server Platform Supports LAMP.jpg

According to AppliedMicro, HP Project Moonshot servers with X-Gene SoCs will be available later this year. You can find the press blast below.

GTC 2013: TYAN Launches New HPC Servers Powered by Kepler-based Tesla Cards

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 19, 2013 - 06:52 PM |
Tagged: GTC 2013, tyan, HPC, servers, tesla, kepler, nvidia

Server platform manufacturer TYAN is showing off several of its latest servers aimed at the high performance computing (HPC) market. The new servers range in size from 2U to 4U chassis and hold up to 8 Kepler-based Tesla accelerator cards. The new product lineup consists of two motherboards and three bare-bones systems. The S7055 and S7056 are the motherboards while the FT77-B7059, TA77-B7061, and FT48-B7055.

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The TA77-B7061 is the smallest system, with support for two Intel Xeon E5-2600 processors and four Kepler-based Tesla accelerator cards. The FT48-B7055 has si7056 specifications but is housed in a 4U chassis. Finally, the FT77-B7059 is a 4U system with support for two Intel Xeon E5-2600 processors, and up to eight Tesla accelerator cards. The S7055 supports a maximum of 4 GPUs while the S7056 can support two Tesla cards, though these are bare boards so you will have to supply your own cards, processors, and RAM (of course).

FT77A-B7059_3D_S.jpg

According to TYAN, the new Kepler-based HPC systems will be available in Q2 2013, though there is no word on pricing yet.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for further GTC 2013 Coverage!

Facebook Inplementing Cold Storage Media Archive In New Datacenter

Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2013 - 07:31 AM |
Tagged: servers, facebook, exabyte, data centers, cold storage, cloud computing

Facebook is planning to construct a new cold storage facility to house archived and less-frequently-used media files. The new data center will reside in a new 62,000 sq. ft. building on the company's existing 127-acre property in Prineview, Oregon.

As cold storage, the data center will house servers with up to 3 Exabytes of total data capacity. The machines will be in a sleep state the majority of the time, but will be automatically turned on to serve up media files when accessed on the social network. Because the servers are normally in a lower-power sleep state, there will be a slight delay when users request files. According to Oregon Live, Facebook has stated that the delay will be as much as a couple of seconds and as little as several milliseconds.
The new cold storage facility will enable Facebook to save a great deal on electrical usage and hardware wear and tear (though primarily power bill savings). The company claims that its users upload 350 million photos each day, but that 82% of the social networking site's traffic focuses on a mere 8% of available photos.

 

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Err, not quite the cold storage Facebook has in mind...

 

Considering Facebook's existing Prineview data center used a whopping 71 million Kilowatts of power in the first 9 months, moving to a new cold storage system for infrequently accessed files is an excellent idea. The photos will still be available, but Facebook will save big on the power bill--a fair compromise for retaining all of those lolcat and meme photos, i think.

The new data center will be rolled out in three phases, each measuring 16,000 sq. ft. in the Prineview facility. The first phase of cold storage servers should be up and running by Q4 2013. There is no estimate on the power savings, but it will be interesting to see how beneficial it will be--and whether other cloud service providers will adopt similar policies.

Also read: Amazon Glacier offers cheap long-term storage.

Source: Oregon Live

AMD Releases Opteron 4300 and 3300 Server Processors

Subject: Processors | December 5, 2012 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: servers, opteron 4300, opteron 3300, opteron, amd

AMD has officially released a number of new server processors based on its latest Piledriver cores. The new Opteron 4300 and Opteron 3300 series processors will replace the 4200 and 3200 series, and are aimed at the server market. The 4300 series uses Socket C32 while the Opteron 3300 processors use socket AM3+. They are significantly cheaper Piledriver-based parts than the higher-end Opteron 6300 series processors. AMD is aiming these lower cost Opterons at servers hosting websites and internal applications for small to medium businesses.

There are a total of nine new Opteron processors, with three being 3300 series an six being 4300 series.  Both the 3300 and 4300 series Opterons are socket compatible with the previous generation 3200 and 4200 series respectively, allowing for an upgrade path in existing servers. According to AMD, the new Piledriver-based processors have 24% higher performance per watt and use 15% less power than the previous generation parts based on the SPECpower and SPECint benchmarks. AMD is also touting support for low power 1.25V memory with the new chips.

The chart below details the specifications and pricing all of the new Opteron parts.

Opteron 4300 and 3300.png

The new AMD Opteron 3300 series includes two quad core and one eight core processor. The parts range from 1.9GHz to 2.6GHz base and have TDPs from 25W to 65W for the lowest and top end parts respectively. AMD-P, AMD-V, and AMD Turbo Core technologies are also supported. As far as memory goes, the 3300 series supports up to four DIMMs and 32GB per CPU. Further, a single x16 HyperTransport 3.0 link rated at 5.2GT/s is included.

Moving up to the 4300 series comes with an increase in price but you also get more cores, more memory, and faster clockspeeds. The Opteron 4300 series has one quad core 4310 EE, three six core CPUs, and two eight core parts. Base clocks range from 2.2GHz to 3.1GHz while boost clocks start at 3.0GHz and go to 3.8GHz. On the low end, the Opteron 4310 EE has a 35W TDP and the top-end 4386 has a 95W TDP. The 4300 series supports dual channel DDR3 1866 memory with up to six DIMMs and 192GB per CPU. Moving up from the 3300 series also gets you two x16 HyperTransport 3.0 links at 6.4 GT/s.

The new server processors are available now with prices ranging from $174 to $501. In addition, pre-built server options from Supermicro and Seamicro (SM15000) are currently available, with options from Dell and a number of other companies on the way. The prices seem decent, and these chips could make the base for a nice 2P server that brings you Piledriver improvements for much less than the relatively expensive 6300 series processors that we covered previously.

HP Becomes Platinum Member of Linux Foundation

Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2012 - 11:51 AM |
Tagged: servers, linux foundation, linux, hp, hardware

The Linux Foundation announced today that PC OEM Hewlett-Packard (HP) is upgrading its membership status to Platinum – highest level of membership. HP joins Fujitsu, IBM, Intel, NEC, Oracle, Qualcomm Innovation Center, and Samsung.

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As a Platinum member, HP will have a seat on the Linux Foundation’s Board of Directors and will be able to influence the future direction of the organization. Reportedly, the OEM is making Linux a priority and is looking to further integrate the open source software into its hardware offerings. For $500,000 a year, HP will also be given priority at events like LinuxCon. HP's branding will also be on the Linux Foundation site and as sponsors at any events.

According to Jim Zemlin, the executive director of The Linux Foundation:

“With one of the richest and most recognized stories in technology, HP has a history of innovation and market success. Because of this history and innate knowledge of software development, HP understands that Linux and collaborative development can benefit its business across its product portfolio. We’re looking forward to the work we can accomplish with HP.”

It is certainly an interesting move, and hopefully one that means HP wants to commit more to the direction of Linx and its adoption on HP hardware. You can find the full press release on the Linux Foundation's website.