64-bit ARM Server Motherboards by SoftIron

We’ve already seen development board such as X-Gene XC-1, and 64-bit ARM servers have been demonstrated by Dell and HP, but SoftIron, a British startup, claims to be the first to provide a production ready ARMv8 solutions for the enterprise server market (e.g. data centers), with its SoftIron 64-0400 and 64-0800 server motherboards powered by Applied Micro X-Gene quad and octa SoC.


Although the company did not release complete pictures of the board, they seem to have done a better job with specifications:

  • SoC
    • SoftIron 64-0400 – Applied Micro X-Gene APM883204 with 4x 64-bit ARMv8 cores @ 2.4 GHz, 4x 32-bit ARMv5 cores for Network/Security offloads and Acceleration, and 1x Cortex M3 for server management
    • SoftIron 64-0800 – Applied Micro X-Gene APM883208 with 8x 64-bit ARMv8 cores @ 2.4 GHz, 4x 32-bit ARMv5 cores for Network/Security offloads and Acceleration, and 1x Cortex M3 for server management
  • System Memory – Up to 128GB ECC DDR3L at 1600MT/s
  • Interfaces
    • 2 x USB 3.0 Superspeed hosts
    • 2 x 10/100/1000 Ethernet RJ-45, and 1 x 100/1000 Ethernet RJ-45 for Server Management (includes Virtual Serial Port)
    • 1 x 10 GbE SFP+
    • 1 x 8 Lane PCIe3.0
    • 4 x SATA 3.0 SSD ports
  • Power supply – + 12 VDC at <7A, Voltage range: 110-240 V AC, Frequency range:50-60 Hz
  • Dimensions – 244 × 244mm (Micro ATX form factor)
  • Enclosure – Rack or Pedestal

SoftIron motherboards only feature one processor socket, and will run Fedora or Ubuntu with Linux 3.x with support for hardware virtualization. I’ve actually just discovered that X-Gene SoCs had ARMv5 and Cortex M3 companion cores to assist with security and server management, actually making APM883208 a 13 cores ARM SoC. If you are interested in the security features allowed by the ARMv5, please refer to “Server Boards –Security Features” (PDF), as I won’t reproduce here the long list of cypher, hash and other security protocols supported by the systems.

SoftIron launched their server motherboards today, but I’m not sure it means it’s already available. Pricing has not been disclosed, but it’s not surprising, as it’s not something individuals will be able to put their hands on. The company will showcase the boards at the 2014 International Supercomputing Conference (ISC), in Leipzig, Germany on June 22-26, 2014. More information is available on SoftIron Products page.

Thanks to David for the tip.

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8 years ago

Oh goodie, 64 bit ARM is nearly here, now if we could just get our hands on one for the price of X86 hardware that would be really cool indeed.

8 years ago

ARMv5? This sounds quite strange, doesn’t it? Isn’t this rather ARM Cortex-A5, which means ARMv7?

Ian Tester
8 years ago

Yes, he’s mixed up ARM Cortex-A5 (a core) with ARM version 5 (an ISA).

Cortex-A5 is ARMv7. It’s meant to replace older ARM9/ARM11 cores in low-end devices, allowing you to run modern software. This is important, e.g the Raspberry Pi foundation has to maintain its own “Raspian” distro because the RPI only has an ARM11 core (ARMv6) and Debian dropped support for pre-v7 hardware not long before the RasPi was released.

8 years ago

Both Cortex M3 and M0 are ARMv7-M and ARM7TDMI is ARMv4. All of those do not suport multi-core/smp configuration. Ditto for your ARMv5 it neither supports multi-core, but that’s what well supported by Cortex-A5. So well, another proof that’s just A5…

Ian Tester
8 years ago

Sorry, I didn’t see that it was the source making the ARMv5 claim. It must be Cortex-A5. There’s no way they’d be using an old ARMv5 core. Those cores (ARM7/9) are well over a decade old.

8 years ago

> and 1x Cortex M3

At least we know there won’t be smell of Intel 8051 in there, not even in keyboard controller. ARM from bottom up! 😉

8 years ago

@Ian Tester Debian still supports pre-v7 hardware with the armel port:
https://www.debian.org/ports/arm/. arm64 support (for this board) is also in a very useable state: (80% built): https://wiki.debian.org/Arm64Port

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