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Cavium ARMs New Server Chips

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted June 3, 2014


Cavium is aiming be a force of nature in the ARM chips market with its new ThunderX lineup of system-on-a-chip (SoC) designs announced today. Alongside the ThunderX announcement, Cavium is also partnering with multiple Linux distributions, including Fedora and openSUSE.

At the top end of the new ThunderX lineup is a 2.5 GHz 48-core 64-bit ARMv8 SoC. Cavium ThunderX The ThunderX is based on a 28nm process and is being built under an architectural license from ARM to be compliant with the ARMv8 architecture and the ARM Server Base System Architecture (SBSA) standard.

ARM announced the SBSA in January at an Open Compute Project (OCP) Foundation event, touting the promise that with the new specification application developers will not need to port their applications to multiple vendor-specific flavors of ARM.

Cavium Promising Server Contributions to the OCP

As part of the ThunderX announcement, Cavium also announced that it plans on making server contributions to the Open Compute Project Foundation. The plan is for Cavium to contribute an Open Rack-compatible motherboard specification for multi-socket configurations targeted for the ARMv8 architecture, based on the ThunderX.

"The unprecedented demand for power and cost-efficient, workload-optimized computing driven from the data center and cloud is a disruptive opportunity for the industry," Syed Ali, President and CEO of Cavium Inc., said in a statement. "Our strategic investment in technologies and solutions that matter to the data center over the past 10+ years come together perfectly in ThunderX."

Jumping Aboard the Linux Foundation's Xen Project As Well

Another key area for Cavium with the ThunderX is with the open-source Xen virtualization hypervisor. Cavium announced today that it was officially joining the Linux Foundation's Xen project as an advisory member. The new ThunderX processors will also be enabled to support Xen virtualization.

"Our new ARM support for power-optimized servers is tailor-made for scale-out virtualized workloads," Lars Kurth, chairman of the Xen Project Advisory Board, said in a statement. "As a leader in ARM server architecture and design, security and networking processors, Cavium is uniquely positioned to leverage the strengths of our open software and play a key role in the future of cloud computing."

Cavium is also working with multiple Linux distributions, including Fedora and openSUSE, to further support of the ThunderX.

"With support for key industry standards and an active engineering engagement in the open-source community, Cavium is demonstrating the commitment it takes to build and drive a thriving server software ecosystem," Jon Masters, chief ARM architect at Red Hat, said in a statement. "Cavium’s collaboration with the Fedora community plays a key role in driving momentum for the ARMV8 architecture."


Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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