As we look ahead to the needs and demands of customers in the hyper-scale computing category, the phrases higher-density, and lower power consumption are at the top of the stack. And while over the past decade or more, the computing world has made a massive shift to X-86 architectures, and grown a new ecosystem of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware, standard software, and applications to support this shift – the fact is, density and power usage improvements are not keeping up. This week Dell made an exciting announcement (Dell Unveils Programs to Enable the ARM-based Server Ecosystem and Accelerate Development and Testing of ARM-based Applications and Solutions) that serves as a great leap forward to address the needs of hyper-scale computing users, with an aggressive program to advance an ecosystem for ARM-based applications and computing solutions.

Project Copper chassis and sled
Dell "Copper" ARM Server Chassis & Sleds

It’s not surprising to see the rate ARM technology has come into the mainstream with the popularity of smart phones and tablets – but the question has remained: Can ARM-based platforms meet the demands of enterprise and high performance computing (HPC) users?

Dell isn’t guessing – we’ve been working on ARM-based solutions with a few select customers since 2010. Now it seems the time is right to bring these Dell-based solutions that promise greater improvements in density & power consumption, to the hyper-scale masses (if there is such a thing).

Dell Solutions Center

A lot of news attention has come out talking about this program from Dell, and our key partners Canonical and Cloudera. While there is a lot of talk about how this initiative will impact customers doing web front-end and Hadoop environments, you might be asking yourself, where does HPC fit in? Initially there will be two key centers where this ecosystem development will occur: 1. The Dell Solutions Centers; and 2. Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). Of course TACC represents one of the leading HPC sites in the world. And I probably don’t need to mention that the HPC community is struggling with the very same issues related to density and power-consumption. So where does HPC fit into the mix – well, you can probably fill-in the rest.

For more information about this exciting initiative from Dell, I’ve listed some good quotes from recent news articles, as well as links to some of the media coverage. Enjoy!

Media Quotes

“But with its Copper server, Dell seeks to address the limitations. The machine is based on a new “Armada” ARM processor from chip maker Marvel that handles up to 8GB of ECC memory. By offering the machines up to customers now, Dell is encouraging developers to migrate their software to an ARM setup.” – Cade Metz, WIRED Enterprise


“Along with providing a small number of systems to certain customers, Dell also will be installing ARM-based servers in some of its solutions centers to allow additional customers to try the products. And it will give servers to key partners, such as big data technology provider Cloudera, to support development and build the ARM-based server ecosystem.” – Shara Tibken, Dow Jones Newswires


“If people didn't want ARM-based servers, Dell wouldn't build them, and so with the launch of the "Copper" ARM server sled for the "Viking" C5000 microserver chassis we know that people want ARM servers. And this is not some experiment that Dell is doing, either, Steve Cumings, executive director of marketing for Dell's Data Center Solutions bespoke server unit, tells El Reg.” - Timothy Prickett Morgan, The Register


News Stories

HPC Wire: Dell Enters Hyperscale ARM Race

PC World: Dell Reaches for the Cloud With New Prototype ARM Server

Dow Jones Newswire: Dell To Provide ARM-Based Servers For Small Number Of Customers

Wired Enterprise: Dell Arms Future Servers With iPhone Chips

HPC Wire: Calxeda Takes Aim at Big Data HPC with ARM Server Chip