AMD prepares to release new ARM-based server processors

AMD is preparing to release its first ARM-based server processors later in 2014, but both AMD and ARM predict that these systems will be deployed to meet different requirements than the x86 "pizza box" servers that dominate the market today.

This means today's big-name vendors may not even get a look in.

The momentum behind ARM-based chips.

"It's not just about adding 100,000 extra users, but about a couple of billion new device users coming online over the next few years in emerging markets," said Suresh Gopalakrishnan, vice president of AMD's server business unit.

The new landscape of big data and cloud computing favours a larger number of smaller, less powerful servers, according to Gopalakrishnan. The ARM architecture, with its low power consumption, makes it one of the most prominent chips going into the future, since its able to be packed together densely without overheating or overloading the power supply.

Gopalakrishnan unveiled pictures of server node prototypes that are "about the size of a smartphone" and consume less than 20W each.

However, the ARM chips still support 32GB of memory, and with 24 of them fitting inside a single 2U rack-mount enclosure.

"It won't look anything like the servers you've seen in the past," he said.

ARM are also envisaging that the majority of these systems are more likely to be custom-built for the service provider's exact requirements, rather than being simply mass-produced.

"Things need to change, because data centre costs cannot keep escalating at the same rate as the volume of data going through them is," said Ian Drew, chief marketing officer for ARM.