SAN JOSE, Calif. – A medium-sized computer maker has announced an ARM-based server using a dual-core Cortex A9 processor from STMicroelectronics. The R1801e from ZT Systems uses up to eight STM Spear 1310 CPUs, eight solid-state drives and dual integrated Gigabit Ethernet switches in a 1U server that draw less than 80 Watts maximum.
The new system is part of a growing trend toward alternative designs for data centers that want to reduce power consumption. ARM and silicon partners such as Marvell have developed chips and boards for Web servers aimed at large data centers.
Separately, startup Calxeda said it will sample next year a novel quad-core ARM chip for servers. SeaMicro targeted a similar area with a system packing 512 Intel Atom chips.
Top computer makers such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM have shown interest in or done research on ARM servers. The ZT product marks one of the first off-the-shelf ARM server offerings. It was designed primarily for use as a software development system for companies planning ARM server deployments.
ZT (Secaucus, NJ) makes the server and designed it with help from ARM, STM and Phytec America. The company is believed to employ more than 200 people and reap annual revenues of more than $400 million, mainly from work building custom x86 servers for data centers. It also supplies desktop and notebook computers.
Each processor module in ZT's R1801e includes a 600 MHz Spear 1310 processor, one Gbyte each of DDR3 DRAM and NAND flash, a Gigabit Ethernet PHY and a UART. The Spear chip itself includes a Gbit Ethernet MAC and support for serial ATA Gen2, PCI Express Gen2 and DDR3 ECC memory. Two Ethernet switches on the server link the processor modules.
"ZT will continue to develop innovative products using ARM technology building blocks," said Casey Cerretani, ZT's director of engineering, speaking in a press release.