Dell Announces Copper ARM Servers Based on Marvell ARMADA XP SoC

It looks like 2012 will be the year of ARM servers. After previous announcements of ARM servers based on Calxeda and Applied Micro SoC, Dell has just announced its own “Copper” ARM servers powered by Marvell ARMADA XP SoC (MV78460) that allegedly runs Ubuntu Server with a LAMP stack.

Dell Copper ARM Server (Click to Enlarge)

Dell “Copper” ARM server is composed of 12 sleds with 4 SoC each slotted into a 3U C5000 Chassis.

Here are the specs:

Form factor 3U chassis
48 independent servers
Architecture 1S 1.6GHz, quadcore Marvell Armada XP system on a chip (SoC)
4 discrete server nodes per sled
12 sleds per 3U chassis
Memory 1 DIMM slot
up to 8GB per node
Drive bays 1 x 2.5″ SATA per node
Hard disk drives 2.5″ SATA (7.2K rpm)
Networking 1GB Marvell Ethernet uplink per node (QSGMII)
connected to Marvell Integrated L2 Switch (98DX4122)

Dell believes that ARM based infrastructures are ideal for Web front-end and Hadoop environments as they provide excellent performance per dollar and per watt, so they designed the “Copper” with the following characteristics:

  • Dell Copper servers are a shared infrastructure design, which allows easy deployment and reconfiguration of the sleds.
  • Each ARM server node draws about 15 watts max power, so the total power draw for a full chassis is less than 750 watts.
  • The server nodes discover themselves and interconnect when deployed, so workloads can easily run across the entire 48 nodes.
  • Four ARM server nodes per sled, and 12 total sleds, bringing a total of 48 server nodes to a single 3U C5000 chassis.

Dell has already started to ship those ARM server to select customers and partners around the world. However, Dell customers are apparently not interested in using 32-bit ARM servers in production environment , but instead plan to use those for testing and validation. The reason behind this is that apparently most software for data centers is written for 64-bit architecture, which means data center customers may only switch to 64-bit ARM once it is available. One of the partner is Canonical which will implement  full support Marvell ARMADA XP in Ubuntu 12.10. Dell will also provide remote-accessible Copper ARM server clusters deployed in Dell Solution Centers, and with the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), for other customers and developers and expects these clusters to be available by the end of the year.

You can watch the video introduction below and see what a full setup (3U C5000 chassis with 12 sleds looks like).

Further details may be available on Dell ARM Server page

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