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ARM servers search for better middleware support

Posted: 03 Oct 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:middleware  server  x86  compiler 

Scripting languages need help

For commercial users, the lack of good compilers for scripting languages may be a bigger issue for ARM-based servers. Ruby, Python and PHP "will compile [on ARM] but they are not optimised; it's the middleware tier we need to go after now," said Leendert van Doorn, a corporate VP and software architect at AMD, speaking on a panel at ARM Tech Con.

By contrast, "the Linux OSes are in pretty good shape... all that is coming together well now, so it's the next layer" that is the current concern, Van Doorn said.

AMD showed Seattle, its ARM-based server SoC, running Red Hat and Suse Linux at Oracle's Java One and ARM Tech Con. The Seattle demo also ran Hadoop, a popular open-source, big-data analytics program based on Oracle's Java.

Support for "Java was a big concern for me a year ago, but that is coming with Open JDK," he added.

Versions of Red Hat Linux and Java for ARM could be in production by the end of the year, said Gaurav Singh, VP of technology strategy at Applied. HP's ARM servers currently ship with the Ubuntu version of Linux from Canonical.

The servers still need a standard API for adding accelerators. Those will be finished in "the next few months to a year," Singh said.

 X-Gene 1 and -2 ARM-based SoC

Applied Micro staged a live demo of servers using its X-Gene 1 and -2 ARM-based SoC beating Intel Ivy Bridge and Haswell servers in requests per second, latency and throughput.

AMD hopes to enable accelerators through dynamic library plug-ins, leveraging the Heterogeneous Systems Architecture standard it leads, said Van Doorn. "Some will use OpenCL, but the quickest path is through fixed functions and library plug-ins." As for hypervisors, Citrix Xen has been ported to ARM's 64bit architecture. Developers "removed a lot of crud and it's running faster on X-Gene now than on [Intel's] Xeon," he claimed.

Microsoft has yet to say if it will support ARM with its Windows Server operating system, but the company already supports ARM in versions of its desktop and embedded OSes, noted Kevin Krewell, senior analyst with Tirias Research.

VMWare's president Patrick Gelsinger, a former top exec at Intel, has publically stated he does not believe ARM servers will gain significant traction. Thus, support from the company's virtualisation software in the near future is unlikely, Krewell said.

- Rick Merritt
  EE Times

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