Marvel 10-Watt ARM Processor Could Be Vanguard of Disruption

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GigaStacey blogs that Marvell’s new ARMADA XP chip could make significant inroads into cloud datacenters with its extreme power efficiency. While it’s performance won’t threaten today’s HPC processors, the Armada XP is the fastest ARM processor available today for enterprise class applications. The new platform integrates four Marvell-designed ARM compliant 1.6GHz CPU cores running at 1.6GHz, delivering impressive performance per watt for cloud computing applications.

Could ARM be an alternative to vertical integration that could lock companies into one hardware vendor or could it be a pain in the butt since it means a rewriting of software that had been designed for x86 machines? ARM may in fact be used to create better vertical integration. Apple’s ARM-based A4 processor in the iPhone and iPad is a wonderful example of that model. At some level the adoption of ARM inside large-scale data centers helps break the idea that server operating systems and individual applications are the norm, given that much of the individual applications and traditional server OSes aren’t designed to play well on the architecture.

As reported here by Thomas Thurston, ARM processors have the potential to disrupt the datacenter as we know it today. So I think it is only fitting that the SC10 keynote this year by Clayton Christensen will focus on disruptive technologies.