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Appeared on: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
AMD Announces ARM-Based Server CPU and Development Platform

AMD today added a new milestone to its list of developments in server technology. The company displayed a development platform for its first 64-bit ARM-based server CPU, the AMD Opteron A1100 Series.

In addition, AMD announced that it would be contributing to Facebook's Open Compute Project a new micro-server design using the AMD Opteron A-Series, as part of the common slot architecture specification for motherboards dubbed "Group Hug."

The announcements were made at the fifth Open Compute Summit conference in San Jose, California.

The AMD Opteron A-Series processor, codenamed "Seattle," will sample this quarter along with a development platform that will make software design on the ARM-based server CPU quick. AMD is collaborating with the industry to enable a 64-bit software ecosystem for ARM-based designs from compilers and simulators to hypervisors, operating systems and application software, in order to address key workloads in Web-tier and storage data center environments. The AMD Opteron A-Series development platform will be supported by a set of tools and software including a standard UEFI boot and Linux environment based on the Fedora Project, a Red Hat-sponsored, community-driven Linux distribution.

The AMD Opteron A1100 Series processors support:

- 4 or 8 core ARM Cortex-A57 processors
- Up to 4 MB of shared L2 and 8 MB of shared L3 cache
- Configurable dual DDR3 or DDR4 memory channels with ECC at up to 1866 MT/second
- 8 lanes of PCI-Express Gen 3 I/O
- 8 Serial ATA 3 ports
- 2 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports
- ARM TrustZone technology for security
- Crypto and data compression co-processors

The AMD Opteron A-Series development kit is packaged in a Micro-ATX form factor and includes:

- An AMD Opteron A1100 Series processor
- 4 Registered DIMM slots for up to 128 GB of DDR3 DRAM
- PCI Express connectors configurable as a single x8 or dual x4 ports
- 8 Serial-ATA connectors
- Compatibility with standard power supplies
- Ability to be used stand-alone or mounted in standard rack-mount chassis
- Standard UEFI boot environment
- Linux environment based on Fedora, which provides developers with a rich set of tools and applications
- Standard Linux GNU tool chain, including cross-development version
- Platform device drivers
- Apache web server, MySQL database engine, and PHP scripting language for developing robust web serving applications
- Java 7 and Java 8 versions to provide developers to work in a 64-bit ARM environment

AMD is also contributing the new AMD Open CS 1.0 Common Slot design based on the AMD Opteron A-Series processor compliant with the new Common Slot specification, also announced today, to the Open Compute Project.

In 2011, Facebook launched the Open Compute Project to push major technology companies to design and build hardware better-suited to running massive-scale Internet services.

Speaking at today's event, Open Compute Project head Frank Frankovsky said Facebook's three-year push to help companies design better data center gear was gaining momentum and paying off with a range of cost-saving improvements.

He pointed to plans by a companies to launch server chips based on low-power technology licensed from ARM Holdings.

"It might be coming to fruition about six months after the most optimistic among us thought, but we are absolutely going to see a much more rich ecosystem in CPU choice as we move through 2014 and into 2015," said Frankovsky.

Facebook has also contributed its new "Honey Badger" microserver adapter to Open Compute Project, showcased their new rapid deployment datacenter concepts and their new optical storage prototype.

Facebook has built a storage system from 10,000 Blu-ray discs that holds a petabyte of data. Designed for data centers, the prototype system stores data that hardly ever needs to be accessed, or for so-called "cold storage."

The system looks like a large duplicator; a 7 feet tall server cabinet with a robotic arms indide to move the discs around. The discs are stacked in piles, and a robotic picker can quickly select a disc from a pile and move it to one of 16 burners in the system, which write data to the discs.

Facebook also shared that OCP and related efficiency efforts have helped the company save more than $1.2 billion in infrastructure costs over the last three years.

Microsoft, a new Open Compute member and technology heavyweight, has contributed cloud-server specifications that it says significantly reduce costs, as well as source code.

Fidelity has contributed the designs for its "Open Bridge Rack," which enables the deployment of OCP storage and server designs in legacy 19" racks. Similarly, Hyve has contributed the designs for its 1500 Series server designs, which are also designed to fit into legacy 19" racks.

Also today, IO announced a new containerized data center solution that employs OpenStack and Open Compute Project hardware. IO already has several customers for this new service, including Merck.

LSI announced that it has joined the Open Compute Project, and they immediately contributed two designs: a 12G SAS expander upgrade to the Open Vault storage system and a flash storage card that provides low-latency flash storage to server-based applications.

Seagate has contributed its Kinetic open storage platform, which is designed to prevent scale bottlenecks in storage.

Quanta has contributed the entire line of Open Rack-compatible products they co-developed with Rackspace.

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