SLES 12 Service Pack 3 for ARM is done. Now what?
SUSE has finished up SLES 12 Service Pack 3 and it is available to our customers. Inside SUSE, Service Pack 3 was labeled a “Consolidation” release. This type of release is intended to focus more on stability than on new features.
This gives the Engineering team the opportunity to fix lower priority bugs and pay back technical debt introduced by new features in previous releases. This is particularly true for legacy SUSE platforms like x86-64.
Service Pack 3 gave us the opportunity to make ARM a full member of the SUSE Linux family. We integrated ARM into the normal engineering and test environments that we already use for other platforms.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but this infrastructure enablement is necessary for SUSE to provide the foundation for future success with ARM. Ultimately, we made the investments to complete this infrastructure work and ARM is now a regular hardware platform for SUSE Linux.
What’s happened with ARM servers since Service Pack 2
Last year, when SUSE became the first commercial Linux to support 64-bit ARM, we enabled a fairly limited set of ARM System on a Chip (SoC) processors for the server market.
Of that group, only the Cavium ThunderX and Applied Micro XGene-2 systems had performance approaching what was needed for traditional server workloads. The other processors enabled in Service Pack 2 were better suited for niche and embedded workloads. But boy sure it is fun running SUSE Linux Enterprise on the Raspberry Pi!
We have seen a lot of changes in the ARM server industry, with some SoC vendors scaling back their investment in ARM server platforms and other vendors expanding their investment. We have also seen many vendors working on the second generation of ARM server processors – with enough potential performance to become a viable alternative the legacy systems in most data centers.
The first real appearance of prototype second generation ARM systems made their debut at the ISC high performance computing conference in Frankfurt in June. Having real hardware on the show floor made the rumors of impending ARM entry into the HPC market much more real. Hints about the expected performance of these systems piqued the interest of potential users. And some independent hardware vendors started revealing future systems based on the next generation of ARM server chips.
SUSE Linux enablement for the next generation of ARM server processors
There’s no question that the market is very interested in the next generation of ARM servers. SUSE has already done its part to enable these servers by including enablement for Cavium ThunderX2, Qualcomm Centriq 2400, MACOM/Applied Micro XGene-3, HiSilicon Hi1616, and other ARM processors in SLES 12 Service Pack 3.
SUSE and our ARM partners have been working a long time to enable enterprise deployments of 64-bit ARM servers, but now it’s a question of “when” rather than “if”.
The time for ARM servers is coming soon. SUSE Linux is ready today.