A growing number of companies are spoiling for a fight between the ARM and x64 architectures in the data centre. The latest one to enter the ring is ZT Systems, a maker of low-powered servers that has just launched its first ARM-based server. If you ask Intel, the company will emphatically deny that there is a market for servers …
All I can say is:
"And not a moment too soon!"
It's about time for this sort of thing to be coming up. At $20K the price is bordering on outrageous, but it is a fair amount of hardware for the money (8x 2 cores). I certainly hope this catches on.
Let me get this straight: twenty. thousand. dollars?
Ok, I'll be reasonable and say it is fairly unique... at the moment. I'm waiting for a well priced product based on the quad-core Marvell XP chipset and hopefully it will cost less than a car!
... if you think about it in terms of normal enterprise grate kit overpricedness (e.g. see what HP or Dell or, heavens forbid, Sun^H^H^HOracle with charge you), for a 16 core box (or 8 dual core boxes which is what this is), it's only overpriced by a factor of about 2x. That's not too bad for something as radically different and new as this.
It is the storage choice which drives it
You do not really need a high-end flash drive per node on this one. This is a Linux FFS, they can all boot off a dedicated IO node and run over NFS from it using a separate 1G backplane if needed. This will immediately shave off 3000$ off the ticket price. There are a few other choices here which also make little sense for most Linux workloads. Once the build has been cleaned from the outrageous waste you will be looking at around 10K USD which is not bad for a system in this class.
That's an ARM-and-a-Leg-based server ;-)
Mines the one with the fat wallet in the pocket
That's all very well
But does it run RISC OS?
under 80 watts of power.... I'm skeptical . Why?
"the whole machine burns under 80 watts of power. (That's what the spec sheet says. I myself am skeptical of this claim.)"
Sounds reasonable to me. I've been using ARM7 based machines for 15+ years and many have 40 or 70W PSU's and that was mainly to power the drives. If it drew much more than 80W it would probably need a fan, but that would be to keep the PSU cool, not the CPU!
I would agree. indeed 80W implies significant room for improvement.
The Little marvell plug things take 5W a piece, and this includes USB, chipset, power supply overhead and 1Ghz arm processor.
I would imagine most of the headline power is actually the CD drive and disk drives. (Although 80w seems rather too high even for that)
Power is the issue
"The machine has no fans because it is cool enough to run without them. ZT Systems reckons the whole machine burns under 80 watts of power."
Surely *that's* the gamble we are seeing here. The ARM crowd are betting that for large enough data centres, the prize goes to the CPU with the best ops-per-watts figure. The only reason Intel are still in the data centre is because they enjoy the economics of commodity hardware, but for 24/7 operation it is possible that the inflated electricity bill exceeds the capital savings within the lifetime of the system.
Yes, lets hope so.
it could also be that there hoping people will realise that those 8 3Ghz core boxes are not really required for serving files and printers, and this is a viable alternative to Virtualisation (Which has its own set of problems)
Some people prefer having seperate boxes to do this stuff, not least of which because ESX and the like comes with its own pitfalls (The "One massive point of failiure" thing comes to mind for a start)
Lovely that they chose Intel to supply the SSD.
Re: Intel SSD
That's probably because Intel SSDs have by far the lowest power consumption (150mW peak, 75mW idle), and one of he best firmwares.
For us with x86-64 estates and a need to squeeze power...
We opted for VMCo (~120w idle, ~300w flat out with 24 cores and 128GB RAM), mostly to run regular x86/64 VMware & Xen on. Though I can see why ARM would really hit the spot for mass web hosting or some other cloud computing service (so long as Intel's individual core performance and memory bandwidth wasn't needed).
More diversity has got to be good at this point...
re: power is the issue
and don't forget the fans themselves need power.
Personally, I reckon that there is definitely a market in home servers for ARM. Quiet, cool and "powerful enough." Something with ADSL/cable interface options and lots of disk connections.
Something like the plug computers but with more connectivity. Something with a sophisticated firewall, not the complicated counter-intuitive rubbish on most ADSL routers. But I also want to be able to do all this without needing a 750w power supply and earplugs.
"wonking fast-thread hot boxes"
In English please?