March 06, 2013
ARM server maker offers cloud service to port x86 code
Boston provides the tools to port x86 code to ARM, which can then be tested over the cloud, reducing the need to buy an ARM server
By Agam Shah | IDG News Service
ARM processors are used mostly in smartphones, but Boston Limited is offering a service through which developers can port existing x86 applications to work on ARM servers, which can then be tested via a cloud service.
As part of the effort, Boston is partnering with software company Ellexus to help developers port the code to ARM servers, and is offering, via the cloud, quad-core ARM processors on which the ported code can be tested. This reduces the need for companies to purchase ARM servers to test code.
Easier said than done. Just ask Microsoft and nVidia with their Windows RT bust.
Porting code cannot be done easily and will be not be perfect. This is the reason why ARM will not make a dent in server market, especially now that Intel has low power Atom server chips. It is the same with the PC market - ARM PCs won't make a dent. Corporations have all their software running on x86.
Porting code cannot be done easily and will be not be perfect. This is the reason why ARM will not make a dent in server market, especially now that Intel has low power Atom server chips. It is the same with the PC market - ARM PCs won't make a dent. Corporations have all their software running on x86
Depending on the application and the OS, porting takes seconds. The LAMP stack has been running on ARM for years, but now that you've got the major Linux disro's supporting ARM it's a simple recompile in many cases (a step you would have to do on x86).
We are not targeting users who wish to host services in the cloud -- Web or mail etc. -- this is really designed for companies or software developers to get access to ARM servers, fully loaded with development libraries and profiling tools, to assist them with migrating to ARM," said Apostolos Lambrianides, a marketing executive at U.K.-based Boston, in an email.
ARM processors are widely used in smartphones and tablets, but are drawing interest for use in servers to process high volumes of Internet transactions tied to search and social media. ARM cores typically draw less power than x86 server processors, and are thus seen as an efficient way to process Web requests. But ARM has virtually no presence in the server market, and most of the server software development is taking place for x86 processors like Intel's Xeon or AMD's Opteron.
Companies are approaching ARM servers with caution as there are still many hardware and software issues to overcome. ARM cores are capable of only 32-bit addressing, while x86 processors are 64-bit, which allows for larger memory and storage support. ARM servers do not interoperate with x86 chips, and thus would require a separate infrastructure in data centers, for which companies would need to invest. Another problem is the lack of a software ecosystem, which Boston hopes to address with its new service.
Boston is one of the few companies commercially selling ARM servers today. Top server makers Hewlett-Packard and Dell are offering experimental ARM servers for customers to test code and benchmark. ARM's CEO Warren East in a recent interview said he expected the ARM server market to be viable starting in 2014.