Ed. Note: This post was authored by Stephen Rousset, Director of DCS Architecture, Dell

Many believe 64-bit ARM technology has tremendous potential to change the modern data center and Dell is helping turn that potential into business reality for our customers. Today, the Dell Data Center Solutions (DCS) division announced a proof-of-concept solution for remote access testing and development of 64-bit ARM microservers to help continue growing the ARM ecosystem.

This proof-of-concept is available at the Dell Solutions Center in Texas and is being rolled out at the Center in Singapore for customers interested in evaluating the technology. Dell is pleased to be collaborating with ARM developers and vendors on future 64-bit designs in order to accelerate the maturation of the ARM ecosystem.

As the ARM server ecosystem is still developing, our focus has been on enabling developers and customers to create code and test performance with 64-bit ARM microservers in order to foster broad-based adoption.

Dell’s ARM Momentum Through the Years

Dell pioneered the ‘microserver’ in 2007 and has marked a number of milestones in continued investments to enable the growth of this low-power ecosystem:

  • We gained great insights into customer workloads when we enabled the Dell “Copper“ ARM-based server as part of a seed unit program in May 2012 with customers ranging from hyperscale players to focused web environments.
  • Dell donated the Dell "Zinc" ARM-based server concept to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) in October 2012. This donation included an ARM-based server concept running Calxeda EnergyCore technology as well as hosting and technical support for the ASF community. Dell “Copper” and “Zinc” remain available for remote access via our Dell Austin Solution Center hosting site, and Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC – UT) for academic developer access.
  • Dell first demonstrated 64-bit ARM technology at ARM TechCon in October 2013. We partnered with our ARM ecosystem partners Applied Micro, ARM Holding, PMC and Fedora to demonstrate a 64-bit Dell proof-of-concept server with PMC industry standard storage controller running a Dell JBOD with Fedora Linux OS and Applied Micro 64-bit system-on-a chip solution.
  • Today, we’re continuing that momentum with a proof-of-concept solution based on Applied Micro’s X-Gene 64-bit ARM technology to further accelerate the development of the 64-bit ARM ecosystem and support testing with select customers.

Hyperscale at Open Compute Summit

Today’s news follows on the heels of Dell’s engagement with hyperscale customers and partners at the Open Compute Summit in San Jose last week. Dell has been an active participant in the OCP community since its founding in 2011, with current representation on the Incubation Committee as well as three OCP working groups. Dell has long believed open platforms can provide benefits for many customers and has demonstrated a uniform systems management experience within the Open Compute Project as a major leap forward in the co-existence of ARM and x86 architectures in the data center.

At the Open Compute Summit, Dell demonstrated its commitment to such open platforms, including the DCS 1240 large-memory server based on Intel’s ‘Decathlete’ specification and optimized for financial services workloads.  Additionally, Dell showcased its latest-generation DCS G8000 rack-level shared infrastructure solution designed with feedback from the top cloud computing providers in China and the United States.   

We also demonstrated our support for open networking by becoming the first global end-to-end technology company to provide customers including cloud providers and Web 2.0 companies with a choice of third-party operating systems, tailoring networks for their specific application needs. In this effort, we reached a re-seller agreement with Cumulus Networks - maker of the first Linux operating system for bare-metal networking devices - to support a new disaggregated networking model for its fixed-configuration switches.

The Open Compute Project is focused on community involvement and Dell showcased its commitment to this effort in collaboration with key partners. We marked our work with ARM as a partner on the development and immediate availability of the proof-of-concept ARM ‘Server Base System Architecture’ specification, a platform standard for ARMv8-A-based 64-bit servers.

Dell worked closely with Intel to showcase the innovative DCS 1300 cold-storage microserver based on the Intel Atom C2000 product family.  Featuring up to twelve hot-pluggable 3.5” drives in a compact 1U chassis, the DCS 1300 aims to significantly drive down the cost of cold storage in the data center.

Additionally, Dell supported Microsoft’s ground-breaking contribution of the Microsoft cloud server specification to the Open Compute Project. The Microsoft specification is designed to meet the demanding workload needs of its cloud deployments and Dell is excited to support Microsoft’s contribution to the Open Compute Project and what it may signal for the future for open data centers.

This exciting news builds on Dell’s continued commitment to meet the needs of our customers and we look forward to continued innovation in the data center industry in the months to come.