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30 May 2012, 10:15

Dell to create its own ARM server ecosystem

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Zoom Longsword - a sled hosts four independent ARM servers, each with its own memory and storage
Source: Dell
Dell intends to create a complete ARM server ecosystem running on Ubuntu or Fedora Linux, and has already shipped its first "Copper" servers to select customers and partners; the servers are, however, not yet generally available. Dell is running its own cluster that developers and customers can access remotely. Dell is also planning to offer products such as Crowbar for ARM and Crowbar for Hadoop on ARM, to help customers set up cloud environments – Crowbar is Dell's open source management infrastructure software.

The Copper server consists of computer nodes containing ARM CPUs in a PowerEdge C5000 chassis. The C5000 is a 3U chassis which the company is already using for the Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron-based micro-servers. The chassis can pack up to 12 micro-servers "sleds" – a sled is a type of overlength blade. One sled contains four discrete ARM server nodes, each with a slot for up to 8GB of RAM, SATA or Flash storage and one 1GbE connector. The ARM chip is produced by Marvell Technology Group and consists of a four-core Cortex A15 with a clock speed of up to 2.5GHz. One micro-server should consume less than 15 watts of power.

Dell's Copper servers are aimed at specialist applications such as data analysis, medical applications or cloud environments. The software environment includes open source packages such as the Ubuntu and Fedora Linux distributions for ARM processors, a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP), Hadoop for data analysis, OpenStack for cloud management, Oracle Java and Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM).

Dell has been following the trend towards using energy-saving CPUs, more commonly found in embedded systems and consumer electronics, in server and datacenter equipment, in moves noted by Forbes in February. Other companies have launched similar server projects, including HP with its Moonshot project and Calxeda with its own system-on-a-chip (SoC).


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