ARM Breaks Into One Of Intel's Strongholds

HP servers in Apple data centreHP servers in Apple’s new data centre.

Photo: Apple

Chip designer ARM has long dominated the market for smartphones and tablets, leaving Intel scrambling to catch up.Now, it’s getting chance to break into one of Intel’s strongholds — server hardware.

This morning, Hewlett-Packard announced a plan called Project Moonshot to design the next generation of highly energy-efficient servers for corporate data centres, and the first generation of those servers will use a chip based on an ARM processor built by Texas startup Caldexa.

HP was careful to note that the next generation of these servers will feature Intel’s Atom processors. But it’s still a big win for ARM and its singular focus on energy efficiency.

Energy is often the biggest recurring expense for really big data centres, like the ones that Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Facebook use to power their online services.

The HP plan also calls to put more than 2,800 servers in a single rack, compared with the 100 or so that are standard in today’s data centres. That will help reduce costs associated with running cables and peripheral devices.

Apart from ARM and Calxeda, HP has also signed up AMD (another Intel competitor), Red Hat (a Linux distributor), and Canonical (a services provider for Linux customers).

HP customers will be able to test out the new Moonstone servers in labs around the world. The first is opening in Houston, Texas.

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