SAN JOSE, Calif. Servers based on ARM multicore processors should arrive in the next 12 months, according to Warren East, chief executive officer of processor intellectual property licensor ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England).
There has been speculation that this was the case with reports surfacing about Google's acquisition of Agnilux, a company thought to be developing power-efficient processors whose founders have ARM architecture experience. A second pointer came in the form of a job advertisement posted by Microsoft.
ARM has built up its IP licensing business with a series of processor cores designed principally for client-side computing, but ARM's CEO said the architecture as it stands is also suitable for server applications.
"The architecture can support server application as it is. The implementations [of ARM] have traditionally been aimed at relatively low performance optimized for minimum power consumption. But we are seeing higher speed, multicore implementations now pushing up to 2-GHz. The main difference for a server processor is the addition of high-speed communications interfaces."
East was speaking to EE Times to discuss ARM's first quarter financial results.
ARM's opportunity to attack the server market, with potentially negative impact for rival Intel, has opened up due to the extreme amounts of energy consumed in server farms. The extreme cost of powering data centers has led to top-down calculations of the best architectures for computation-per-watt.
East said some companies have gone beyond such back-of-the-envelope calculations. "We are seeing people experimenting with multiple ARM cores on a chip. They have the option to use our A9 at 2-GHz, and four cores. So people can do server experiments with the existing technology at the high-end of the road-map."
East declined to name which customers or partners are working ARM processor designs for servers, but added: "I'd expect to see something out there within 12 months."