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Dedicated Hosting Services on ARM Development Boards (Cubieboard2, Raspberry Pi, ODROID…)

At least two companies have recently launched hosting services using dedicated ARM servers based on low cost development boards: NanoXion with its NX-BOX service powered by PiBox (Raspberry Pi) and CubieBox (Cubieboard 2) microservers, and miniNodes with servers based on Cubieboard2 first, then ODROID development boards, and possibly AllWinner OptimusBoard once/if it becomes available.

PiBox Dedicated Server

PiBox Dedicated Server

The PiBox will feature a Raspberry Pi Model B with 512 MB RAM, and 16GB Class 10 UHS-1 microSD card by Samsung, and the dual core Cubiebox comes with 1GB RAM and a Crucial M500 SATA III 120GB SSD. Both NX-BOXes run Linux Debian Server NX distribution, support instant remote reboot, with guaranteed 10 Mbps connectivity for IPv4 & IPv6, and unlimited bandwidth. The boards are all hosted in France.

The company expects their ARM servers to be used as private cloud servers, backup servers, private chat servers, web servers, mail servers, DNS Servers, monitoring servers, and well as some other proprietary solutions their customers may come up with.

Pricing starts at 7.19 Euros per month for the PiBox, 11.18 Euros per month for the Cubiebox, including an IPv6 address, and the service requires a commitment of one year.

miniNodes, which is US based, has just started yesterday to offer Cubieboard2 dedicated server for early adopters and enthusiasts. Cubieboard 2 features a dual core AllWinner A20 SoC @1.0 Ghz, 1 GB RAM, and 4 GB NAND that runs Ubuntu Server 13.04. There does not appear to have any external storage in their microservers at this stage, and bandwidth information is not available. The only option is currently hosting costs $19 US per month, but once they officially launch they’ll offer options to purchase clusters with up to 25 Cubieboard2 and more choices for the OS (Ubuntu or Fedora). If everything goes according to plan quad core hardkernel ODROID boards will be added to the line-up soon, and Allwinner Optimus Board powered by AllWinner A80 octa-core processor might also be considered.

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  1. Someone from the other side
    March 12th, 2014 at 15:46 | #1

    I really do not see the point.

    VServers are much more flexible than any of these hacked together solutions and for any real use, the ARMs are too slow and lack RAM.

    Now, if someone put a dozen or so NUCs into 1U, that might actually be useful. But a bitch to cool.

  2. Marius
    March 12th, 2014 at 16:20 | #2

    I’ve set up a Cubieboard with Linux and it’s damn slow, not really useful for anything serious.

  3. onebir
    March 12th, 2014 at 17:01 | #3

    Existing Raspi choices:
    http://www.lemmster.de/blog/index.php/2013/06/15/1262
    (details a bit out of date)

  4. March 12th, 2014 at 17:48 | #4

    @Someone from the other side
    @Marius
    For serving static HTML files, or a wordpress blog with caching enabled these should be enough to server thousands of page views per day. Marius, I don’t know if you used Linux on SD card are not, but from NAND performance should be much better. The NX-Boxes with unlimited bandwidth and 128GB storage may even target customers who seed torrents which may not require a fast processor, but fast storage.

    Having said that, I’m currently paying $17 per month (2-year contract) for cnx-software.com for a VPS with 1GB RAM, 48 GB storage on an 8-core XENON server. So these ARM solutions do not really seem compelling from a price/performance ratio.

    @onebir
    I think I remember that one, but you have to send your own R-Pi…

  5. Someone from the other side
    March 12th, 2014 at 21:17 | #5

    If you only serve static HTML pages, you really do not need a dedicated machine, not even a VPS.

    (I used to do webhosting, it’s quite impressive what you can do with static sites on a properly configured machine – if you have the bandwidth)

  6. March 12th, 2014 at 23:29 | #6

    Hi all, thanks for the feedback and comments, its useful and helps us understand what our customers need, so that we can build better products / solutions.

    We certainly agree that in their current form, these servers are only really useful to a select crowd and for niche uses such as caching, failover and backup protection, custom services, DNS, testing code on ARM, simple hosting, etc. Essentially, not everyone needs massive horsepower, and we hope to fill a void in the marketplace. But, with that said, ARM microservers are an emerging technology with a bright future in front of them, and we want to get our service and processes in place now, while the ecosystem matures.

    The forthcoming AMD Opteron A1100 processor (and many other processors based on the 64-bit A53 and A57 ARM cores), the work being done by Jon Masters at RedHat and Maarten Ectors at Ubuntu, the SBSA standard put forward by ARM, and the community efforts of the OpenCompute project and Linaro organization will all help to rapidly improve the product and expand the market.

    Hope this helps to clarify the “why” a bit more, and explains the concept better. Thanks all.

  7. TriDeck
    March 13th, 2014 at 19:18 | #7

    Much more affordable http://raspberrycolocation.com/ 3€ per month, they are in Netherlands: 100 Mbit uplink, 500 GB traffic (IPv4 & IPv6).

  8. Marius
    March 13th, 2014 at 20:03 | #8

    @cnxsoft
    Indeed for the raspberry I used a SD card which might explain why it’s so slow but for the Cubieboard 1 I’m using a USB external drive and I want to switch to SATA.
    Indeed for static web pages and stuff like that maybe the Cubieboard 2 will do especially since it has SATA but we’re not quite there yet.
    Indeed as miniNodes says with recent developments ARM is finally ready for servers and I’d like a A1100 mini server very much.
    The minimal ARM SOC I’d consider using as server is an A15 quad core. I just hate it that these SOCs don’t have SATA.

  9. Noloqoq
    March 13th, 2014 at 21:44 | #9

    @Marius
    Cubieboard2 just works fine for lot of tasks as desktop, no problem to serving dynamic php site (with not too much audiance.

    This announce and system really looks like nanoxion (announced on cubieboard site one month ago :

    http://cubieboard.org/2014/02/18/cubieboard-colocation-service-named-cubiebox-first-launched-in-france/

  10. Marius
    March 13th, 2014 at 23:31 | #10

    @Noloqoq
    I’m not saying that it doesn’t , even the Cubie 1 is OK for certain things. I’m just saying I’d feel more comfortable with a quad core A15 for server duties.
    The only true ARM server SOCs however are the new 64bit ones like the one from AMD, those have SATA, pci-express, ECC and the works.
    Of course even a Raspberry Pi is OK for certain limited sever duties.

  11. Sander
    March 14th, 2014 at 01:12 | #11

    @TriDeck

    The 3€ per month is only for *hosting* your own Raspi, which you have to send to them (including your sdcard, housing, etc).

    You can buy the raspi at them for € 62,50. With a deprecation time of 24 months (thus 62/24=2.60 Euro), the total montly price is about € 5.60 per month.

    From a beancounter’s point of view, you will need a NPV calculation. With a WACC of 8%, only a montly depreciation (and thus payment) of 5.90 Euro will result in an upfront value of 62 Euro for the needed hardware. And thus 3 Euro + 5.90 Euro = 8.90 Euro per month for co-location + hardware payment.

    HTH

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