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ARM server eco-system developing slower than expected – Dell

Although many market observers expect processors based on the ARM architecture to capture a significant part of server market going forward, delays of hardware and infrastructure development reduces ARM’s chances on this market. Intel Corp. is quickly developing new low-power x86 server chips that reduce appeal of ARM for server users.

“I think quite frankly the ecosystem is developing a little bit more slowly than expected,” said Forrest Norrod, general manager for servers at Dell, reports PC World.

Although ARM has been licensing its server-class 64-bit and 32-bit cores for some time now, no 64-bit ARMv8-based chips for servers are available commercially today. Only Apple has been selling consumer-class ARMv8-based A7 processors inside its latest smartphones and tablets for about a year now.

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Due to absence of server-class ARMv8 processors, there are no commercial servers based on ARM’s 64-bit technology on the market. Dell and Hewlett-Packard only offer prototype ARM-based servers to select customers.

“The opportunity for ARM servers is smaller than it used to be than if ARM had been earlier. […] Whether or not companies are willing to invest to maintain x86 and ARM server architectures in one infrastructure is an open question,” said Mr. Norrod.

Server software used today was designed with x86 processors in mind, so companies looking to deploy ARM-based servers should ensure that there are programs that support their workflows as well as ARM processors.

Dell remains committed to ARM-based servers, but their success depends on availability of chips, competitive advantages of x86 processors and availability of software.

“We’re continuing to play close attention to it. We’re moderating end customer interest. We’ll continue to stay engaged with the ARM ecosystem … in time for end customer adoption,” said Mr. Norrod.

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KitGuru Says: While ARM remains confident that it can capture a part of micro-server market, to do so it will need to offer certain indisputable advantages compared to Intel’s chips. Given the lack of commercial ARM-based server chips, it is impossible for server users to find out whether ARM SoCs actually provide any advantages at all.

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