Dell, IBM 'all over ARM' chips for servers

Marvell's implementation of multi-core ARM processors with a view to plugging them into low-power servers with which to run data centres has attracted interest from the likes of Dell and IBM, according to a report.

Dell is planning to test the multi-cored ARM wizardry this summer, according to the report at EE Times.

"We've been all over this," Dell's chief technology officer for enterprise products, Paul Prince, said. "About a year and a half ago, we put a LAMP [Linux, Apache, MySQL and Python] stack on an ARM A8 core," he said. Previously the firm had built a low-power server based on an x86 notebook chip from Via. "That was an early indicator that there was a market pull" (for low-power servers), he said.

Now Dell plans to test Marvell's multi-core ARM Cortex A9-based SoCs this summer, according to the report.

The report also says that IBM has been sniffing around the designs but has yet to say anything specific on the use of ARM-leveraged technology in data centre servers.

Bernie Meyerson, an IBM fellow and vice president of innovation, said ARM's server plans are of interest to Big Blue because of the open source element in the equation.

"We're going from an era of general purpose processors to application-specific processors, and now we will go from general-purpose computers to application-specific servers," he said, continuing, "People will start to examine these machines and they will tend to be more appliance-like."

Marvell plans to deliver 40nm ARM-based server chips this year.