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Thursday, June 21, 2012
Calxeda Claims Its ARM-based Server Beats Xeons In Energy Efficiency


The first benchmarks of a web server based on ARM's SoCs Vs. an Intel's Xeon server system are very encouraging for the British company, as the first generation ARM SOCs seem to deliver on their basic promise of much better performance per Watt.

ARM startup Calxeda released some x86 versus ARM benchmarks.

Calxeda's system was based on its EnergyCore ECX-1000 series processor. The chip combines quad-core ARM Cortex-A series processor with topology agnostic integrated fabric interconnect (providing up to 50Gbits of bandwidth at latencies less than 200ns per hop), eliminating network bottlenecks and add scalability.



Calxeda's server also included 4 GB of DDR3L-1066 memory, one 1Gb Ethernet network port, one 250 GB SATA 7200rpm HDD and was running on Ubuntu Server v12.04 (3.2 kernel), Apache Server v2.4.2 and ApacheBench v2.3 (16k request size) was used to benchmark the system.

Below are the results from our ApacheBench tests. The table illustrates both performance (requests per second) and energy consumption (Watts) along with an Intel Xeon-based platform (Sandybridge E3-1240) for comparison.



As you can see in the table above, the EnergyCore server is able to handle ~5500 requests per second, while only consuming a little over 5 watts. The Xeon system handled ~ 1450 requests more but at the same time, it consumed 102 watts.

Calxeda said that the power consumed by the EnergyCore processor was measured power directly against real hardware. On the other hand, the power consumption result for Intel (Sandybridge) platform was based on published TDP values for the CPU and I/O chipset, along with an estimate for DDR memory. However, even if we were to reduce the Intel Xeon?s TDP numbers by 30% - such as those delivered by the new more power-efficient Ivy Bridge CPUs such as the Intel Xeon E3-1200 v2 - the EnergyCore solution would still provide a significant performance per watt advantage - greater than 10X.

Of course, Intel is also planning to offer small web server systems based on its Atom chips. Intel's 'Centerton' is sub- 8W, 32 nm SoC coming later this year. It supports virtualization, error correction code and has some integrated I/O. A follow on Atom-based SoC, based on the 3D Tri-Gate 22nm transistor technology, codenamed Avoton, is coming also in 2013. HP has already announced support with its "Gemini" server, which is an extension of the Project Moonshot scalable fabric-based server family powered by the latest generation of Intel?s Atom CPU.


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