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ARM adds virtualisation to Cortex A

ARM adds virtualisation to Cortex A

ARM's next processor design - the Cortex A 'Eagle' - will include virtualisation extensions in silicon.

ARM is continuing to pile the pressure on Intel with a push towards the server market - and its next chip, codenamed Eagle, might give its rival cause for concern.

While ARM processor designs have long dominated the portable and embedded device markets - with their high performance-per-watt characteristics - they've never previously been directly marketed at desktop or server markets, where Intel rules the roost. The ARM Cortex A processor - also known as Eagle - looks to change all that with technology aimed directly at servers: virtualisation extensions.

According to InfoWorld's report of the announcement at the Hot Chips conference, ARM's answer to Intel's VT - Virtualisation Technology - in the Cortex A chip will allow the processor to better compete with Intel's offering at the low-power end of the server market.

With virtualisation market leader VMware already pledging to develop hypervisor software to take advantage of the Cortex A, Intel should be concerned by the rate at which ARM's processor designs appear to be making the move from ultra-portable to server sectors - and with considerably more aplomb than Intel's own attempts to break into the mobile market with its new Atom chips.

ARM isn't looking to shy away from its core competency, however, with company representative David Brash stating that other developers are working on hypervisors specifically designed for the embedded and mobile market - bringing the possibility of slates and smartphones which are capable of running multiple different operating systems simultaneously, either for reasons of security or to allow different tools to be used for different tasks.

Although ARM hasn't announced when the Eagle will be landing, Brash has claimed that commercial production quantities from the company's hardware partners and licensees are "very, very close" to being released.

Do you believe that ARM has a chance against Intel in the server market, or will the lack of support for the architecture from Microsoft always hold the company's chip designs back? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

14 Comments

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proxess 25th August 2010, 11:25 Quote
Competition is always good. I say bring it on ARM.
SouperAndy 25th August 2010, 11:32 Quote
Agree ^

RISC is definitely better for certain situations, where full bloodied x86 is just not necessary.

I think that specialist architectures should continue to be investigated and ARM is making a good start.... Who said that a database server, web server, file server, ERP system, etc. All require the same CPU instruction set? Surely there must be optimised designs?!

Dunno what ever happened to the RISC push, ~15 years ago it was seen as a real revolution (Acorn Archimedes, etc), but it just died away...

Cheers,

SouperAndy
B1GBUD 25th August 2010, 11:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SouperAndy
Dunno what ever happened to the RISC push, ~15 years ago it was seen as a real revolution (Acorn Archimedes, etc),

Didn't Sun Microsystems try to revive it with their Ultra SPARC's?
eddtox 25th August 2010, 11:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by article

Do you believe that ARM has a chance against Intel in the server market, or will the lack of support for the architecture from Microsoft always hold the company's chip designs back?

AFAIK, Microsoft isn't that huge in the server market (is that right?), and linux is known to work well on arm processors, so maybe things will work out.
SouperAndy 25th August 2010, 11:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by B1GBUD
Didn't Sun Microsystems try to revive it with their Ultra SPARC's?

Yep - I used a Sun system in my previous job ~5 years ago and used a PowerPC based supercomputer to run simulations... But you wouldn't call them 'mainstream' or even enterprise in any real sense.

Any large (non-IT) corporation that is currently looking at a server farm / datacentre will be AMD / Intel x86 all the way.

It seems that at the moment, everything upto specialised applications (HPC, etc) will get x86 by default.

Cheers,

SouperAndy
crazyceo 25th August 2010, 12:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddtox
Quote:
Originally Posted by article

Do you believe that ARM has a chance against Intel in the server market, or will the lack of support for the architecture from Microsoft always hold the company's chip designs back?

AFAIK, Microsoft isn't that huge in the server market (is that right?), and linux is known to work well on arm processors, so maybe things will work out.

Don't believe everything posted here from the Linux brigade. Microsoft does just fine in the world market and IS the major player they all look to.

Just read the waffle that follows this now and you will understand my post.
general22 25th August 2010, 12:46 Quote
I don't really see ARM gaining any kind of significant server market share until it there is a 64bit ARM instruction set.
Spuzzell 25th August 2010, 13:26 Quote
Go ARM!

Didn't you run a story last month about how ARM were looking to completely remove themselves from manufacture and just sell licenses to their IPs? Not sure how that would affect any push to usurp Intel or AMD.

Anywho, hard to care when my shares are heading up like they're made of helium :-)
Cthippo 25th August 2010, 14:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyceo
Don't believe everything posted here from the Linux brigade. Microsoft does just fine in the world market and IS the major player they all look to.

If by "The major player they all look to" you mean 1% of market share in Server OS, then yes.

Honestly I wonder if this isn't actually bad news for AMD. If ARM becomes a real competitor to Intel it's going to be taking more business away from AMD than anyone else.
SlickGnome 25th August 2010, 16:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthippo
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyceo
Don't believe everything posted here from the Linux brigade. Microsoft does just fine in the world market and IS the major player they all look to.

If by "The major player they all look to" you mean 1% of market share in Server OS, then yes.

Honestly I wonder if this isn't actually bad news for AMD. If ARM becomes a real competitor to Intel it's going to be taking more business away from AMD than anyone else.

That is a little skewed as the linked article is talking about Linux vs Windows in an HPC environment of the top 500 Super Computers. I would guess (and probably be fairly accurate) that Linux vs Windows in the Majority of Non Super Computer datacenters (typical business) actually run a fairly even mix, not to say that Linux isn't higher percentage than Windows (the one I run is almost 50/50), but I don't have the numbers to check in front of me. I suppose I could check Gartner to find out their stats for the average data center, but eh.
Elledan 25th August 2010, 16:40 Quote
I'm looking forward to running ARM in a future desktop/server system :) I can't wait to see how these little beasts perform. If they also add support for PCIe and other common interfaces in x86 land, I can't see how people could not want to use them with a server system. Unless the mainboards are really expensive or so.

On a sidenote, it's important to realize that the entire ARM business including ARM Inc itself and licensees dwarfs Intel by a few orders of magnitude. If ARM does something, you bet Intel is paying attention.
crazyceo 25th August 2010, 21:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthippo
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyceo
Don't believe everything posted here from the Linux brigade. Microsoft does just fine in the world market and IS the major player they all look to.

If by "The major player they all look to" you mean 1% of market share in Server OS, then yes.

Honestly I wonder if this isn't actually bad news for AMD. If ARM becomes a real competitor to Intel it's going to be taking more business away from AMD than anyone else.

You should really read what you link to. The only people pushing Linux are linux fanbois, the business world is run on Microsoft Server based OS. The top 500 supercomputers in the world are specific to its needs and not to the small companies with 1 server and 10 desktop pcs.
schmidtbag 28th August 2010, 22:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyceo
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthippo
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyceo
Don't believe everything posted here from the Linux brigade. Microsoft does just fine in the world market and IS the major player they all look to.

If by "The major player they all look to" you mean 1% of market share in Server OS, then yes.

Honestly I wonder if this isn't actually bad news for AMD. If ARM becomes a real competitor to Intel it's going to be taking more business away from AMD than anyone else.

You should really read what you link to. The only people pushing Linux are linux fanbois, the business world is run on Microsoft Server based OS. The top 500 supercomputers in the world are specific to its needs and not to the small companies with 1 server and 10 desktop pcs.

uh.... no.

even mac has its place in the server world. small companies that can't afford the time to find someone skilled with linux will use windows for their servers, and companies that rely only windows-only software will go for windows servers, but windows is a horrible os to use for a server. its bloated, incredibly limiting (to mainly cpu architectures and customization), NTFS is slow as hell compared to ext4 (especially on SSDs), and most of all, windows is not stable enough. also, you ALWAYS have to pay a price for windows whereas linux can be free.
Elledan 29th August 2010, 08:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag
uh.... no.

even mac has its place in the server world. small companies that can't afford the time to find someone skilled with linux will use windows for their servers, and companies that rely only windows-only software will go for windows servers, but windows is a horrible os to use for a server. its bloated, incredibly limiting (to mainly cpu architectures and customization), NTFS is slow as hell compared to ext4 (especially on SSDs), and most of all, windows is not stable enough. also, you ALWAYS have to pay a price for windows whereas linux can be free.

Right. And I assume you have proof for all these claims?

Also, everybody knows that BSD > Linux when it comes to server tasks, if only because Linux is an insecure pile of remote exploits :D
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