Boston Releases Servers Based on Calxeda's ARM SoCsby Kristian Vättö on July 9, 2012 12:05 PM EST
Calxeda EnergyCore SoC
Boston has released its Viridis server which uses Calxeda's ARM System-on-Chips (SoCs). Each SoC consists of four ARM Cortex-A9 cores and up to 48 SoCs can be installed into a standard 2U enclosure. The SoCs come on what Boston calls POCket boards. There are four SoCs per board and each board also has four miniDIMM connectors and four SATA ports (one per SoC). The POCket board is a separate PCB which looks a lot like a PCIe card. Every board has a 10Gbps Ethernet link which is the interconnector between the main motherboard and POCket board.
|Boston Viridis Specifications|
|SoC||Calxeda EnergyCore (4x per POCket board, 48x per enclosure)|
|Number of cores||4 per SoC (192 in total)|
|Frequency||1.1 - 1.4GHz|
|Memory||4GB per SoC (192GB in total)|
|Storage||4x SATA per SoC (192 in total)|
When using a regular 42U rack, Viridis can provide up to 1,008 SoCs with a total of 4,032 cores of processing power. Viridis is also extremely power efficient since each SoC has a TDP of only 5W (for example Intel's low-power Xeon E5 offerings have a TDP of 50W). Hence Viridis is the best suited for environments that have a highly parallel workload that can benefit from the high amount of cores and require extreme power efficiency.
Using ARM architecture obviously limits software selection (e.g. Windows of any flavor is not supported). Boston is, however, stating that Ubuntu 11.10 is supported, along with popular software such as Perl, Python and MySQL. How well these applications are optimized for the architecture remains to be seen, but any significant ARM threat to the x86 server space is likely to benefit enterprise customers across the board. Competition in high margin businesses is never a bad thing.