Can cheap ARM servers do real work?

Credit: flickr/A National Acrobat

ARM servers are inexpensive and use less power than Intel chip-based servers. Do they belong in the data center?

That's what Ewan Leith of Manchester England tried to find out. He believes they should play a big part in the future of computing, so he built a server for 60 pounds. Worked well enough, so he co-located it in a local data center to see if it can do "real work" for him. Turns out it can.

Calxeda (formerly Smooth Stone) agrees with Leith, and the company announced new software partners for their ARM-based servers to be used in datacenters. Since power costs are crucial, and ARM servers about a tenth of the electricity of their competitors, ARM systems may have a future. Partnering with Canonical, the Ubuntu folks, should give Calxeda an edge, and that's the OS Leith put on his Beaglebone-based server.

Small is big now

I plan to do a very similar thing with my Raspberry Pi.

lucian1900 on news.ycombinator.com

I've ordered a CuBox from Solid Run (99 EUR + shipping) and I'm happy so far: Ubuntu Lucid, 1 GB DDR3@800 RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, 2 x USB (I'm using an external HDD),

vitalie on ewanleith.com

ARM boards are generally more power efficient for any given compute unit you want to benchmark, but it's not a huge advantage

ajross on news.ycombinator.com

HP has their Project Moonshot which is a rack server solution using multiple Calxeda ARM servers attached to a main board for power and networking.

hmottestad on news.ycombinator.com

Weird business

I build custom ARM hardware for a living. I promise, if you're a company with high volume working at the component level rather than an individual buying off the shelf single-board-computers, ARM is much, much less expensive than x86.

benjamincburns on ewanleith.com

Would have been interesting 2 years ago but Intel is now on a low power path that takes away ARMs power advantage while keeping their own processing advantages.

Johnny Vegas on zdnet.com

In many server applications your not CPU bound but rather IO bound. In those applications using the lowest power CPU makes sense. These are the applications ARM seems to be targeting first.

mbell on news.ycombinator.com

Hard business

The big reason the server makers and INTEL don't rush into ARM is that it's going to slaughter the margins, as you can source anything from anyone and the ARM license is cheap.

Ludovic Urbain on ewanleith.com

You might get less watts per clock cycle, but you'll get less done per cycle with an ARM than an x86

vel0city on zdnet.com

you have to remember that ARM is presently 32 bit, so you're going to have trouble going over 4 GB at all, which is currently a very small amount for a serious server.

rwmj on news.ycombinator.com

Does your company uses ARM servers?

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