ARM's inexorable march into the server room continues to gather pace with data centre specialist ZT Systems announcing a low power draw server featuring 16 Cortex-A9 processor cores.
The 1U R1801e, designed as a software a build development system, features up to eight individual 'server modules' in a single chassis, each one of which includes ST Microelectronics SPEAr 1310 microprocessor featuring two ARM Cortex-A9 cores along with 1GB of DDR3 memory, gigabit ethernet, and SATA ports for connecting storage devices.
While the performance of the SPEAr 1310 processors shouldn't give Intel or AMD any cause for concern, running as they do at a paltry 600MHz, the power draw of the system certainly should: fully populated with the maximum of 16 processing cores, the R1801e draws just 80W of power.
That's not only a significant saving on energy usage, but a major win for the data centre, too. By reducing the power draw and increasing the performance per watt metric, data centres can do away with their requirement for vast cooling and ventilation systems - by far the biggest cost when it comes to running a data centre.
Casey Cerratani, ZT Systems' director of engineering, claims that a platform based around the SPEAr processors "represents an attractive new option for certain applications in large data centers where power efficiency is a key priority," and that while they're not ready to take over from x86 for high-performance tasks the momentum is there for ARM-based chips to steal some all-important server market share from current leader Intel.
ST Micro's Francesco Brianti is equally confident of the possibilities for ARM in the server market: "With ST's SPEAr 1310 ARM Cortex-based SoC providing best-in-class MIPS/Watt, improved system reliability and lower cost-of-ownership, this ZT Systems server is primed to lead a revolution in data-center servers over existing solutions."
With ARM itself redesigning the Cortex range for server use, including adding support for up to 4TB of RAM and hardware virtualisation extensions in the Cortex-A15 design, it's clear that Intel has something to keep a very close eye on for the near future.
Thus far, ZT Systems has yet to detail pricing for the R1801e series.