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Let me take you back in time…………first there where Dinosaurs (Hold up not that far back!)

Let me take you back to “when I were a lad” (well I was in Yorkshire!). It was 1983.

A time of hope, a small nation recovering from a terrible recession, with British pop music and art popular around the world and Morning TV first hitting our streets.  Whilst fear stalked us all, on the international stage with the Cold War and fighting on the streets of the UK with our terrible miners’ strike only a year away.

But for me at 13 the world was in bloom, full of optimism and my mate Fev (thanks Fev! You started my career) saved his paper round money (ask your Granddad what that is) to buy his first home computer a BBC Micro.

Yes other friends had got their ZX Spectrum’s, but they guarded them jealously whilst this BBC Micro was my first chance to feel the rush of finding my inner Geek.

Fast forward to now, an old broken man (47 is the new 90 it seems) is still playing with technology (Hurrah!) and I find it comforting that the company that brought the computing power to that BBC Micro, Acorn Risk Machine (or ARM as they have become) are going from strength to strength.

I’m sure as IT architects we are all aware nearly every mobile device carries an ARM chip within, but where else can it help us?

To understand what they offer to a Private Clouds architect, you first need to understand their business model is different to what you may expect.

As a chip designer, ARM license the designs they produce for manufactures to build value around.  This means that they are used extensively for development hardware, such as networking infrastructure and mobile devices.  This ARM core design approach allows for extensive use cases because it can be very cost effective, power efficient and allow greater density of chips per device.

Many of you who work on Network design or mobile communications are very aware of how ARM can help you.  ARM’s own metrics show they had 15% of the entire networking infrastructure market and 30% of the home networking market in 2015 (something they see growing very aggressively in the next 5 years, partly through the explosion of capabilities enabled by OpenNFV).

Combining microprocessors and System on Chip (SoC) make the ARM manufactures devices common in the massive IoT market, with 85% of Mobile Application processors and 75% of SMART TV using ARM chips in 2015. While for those building Private Clouds, recent changes have brought capabilities of ARM based servers into new focus.

With the advent of the AArch64 chip capabilities the situation for servers started to change.  Suddenly the fact that the individual chip versus an Intel 86_x64 chip was slightly less powerful became a secondary issue when compared with the inherent RISC design allowing much more density and adding the ability to utilise some of the ARM vendor’s advances with System on a Chip (SoC) technology.

Many of the ARM chip manufactures have moved forward with server solutions, such as Cavium with ThunderX (covering Storage, HPC, Web caching, Scaleout, security use cases) and Octeon TX (covering Storage, Networking and Security), AMD, Xilinx, Macom and Broadcom. These are just a selection of the designs that can take advantage of fully supported, hardened and Industrial strength SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

As a third domain in your Cloud, Storage really suites the ARM Chip model of high density low cost now that Software Defined Storage is revolutionising the economics of resilient Object storage clusters such as Ceph.

So in conclusion, sometimes we think the speed of change in IT service delivery is overwhelming but in the case of ARM technology it’s more a case of the old becoming more relevant (with some improvements) as use cases change. So when you build your next cloud, it makes sense to think of the value ARM technologies can add.  Particularly now SUSE have become the first Operating Systems distribution vendor to offer fully supported Linux on the hardware.

If you would like to know more, join me, Simon Briggs on the 6th May at 2:00 pm at the Hynes Convention Center, OpenStack Summit in Boston. I’ll be presenting the session “OpenStack is also Open to Chip Architecture. See how ARM64 based chips can add value.” There’ll be opportunity for discussion and the chance to win prizes!


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Category: Technical Solutions
This entry was posted Wednesday, 26 April, 2017 at 8:19 am
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