Fitting more computing capacity into a limited power envelope is one of the key challenges facing data centre designers today. It impacts companies whether they are building a £500 million data centre or simply working how much compute that can fit into a couple of racks at a shared facility.
One of the emerging approaches to solving this problem is to look at the technologies in low power-consumption appliances like phones and applying them to dense clusters in server-like configurations. Whether it is in smartphones, tablets or other embedded systems, the processor at the heart of these low power devices is generally ARM-based.
With Ubuntu Server becoming the de-facto standard for cloud infrastructure and big data solutions, we recognise that power consumption is key to efficient scaling. Building on four years of working with ARM, we are now taking the step of supporting Ubuntu Server on ARM. We expect these processors to be used in a variety of use cases including microservers.
This is a first step and there will be many revisions of processors, hardware designs and of software as the performance and supported server workloads optimised for ARM grow over the next four years. It is, however, a first crucial step towards a new technology and one where yet again open-source innovation leads.
The new addition to the Ubuntu family | First release in October 2011
In October, the Ubuntu Server 11.10 release will be simultaneously available for x86, x86-64 and ARM-based architectures. The base image of the releases will be the same across architectures with a common kernel baseline. The ARM architecture will also be part of the long-term support (LTS) version of Ubuntu Server in 12.04 and other future releases.
Initial development focus and optimisation will be around the most popular Ubuntu workloads of web/network infrastructure and distributed data processing via NoSQL or big data applications where workloads typically use hundreds or thousands of systems.
The Ubuntu Server on ARM initiative is a multi-year initiative gathering broad participation. More project information can be found on the Ubuntu wiki
Hardware partners, ISVs and open-source application developers keen to join existing partners around Ubuntu Server on ARM should contact us via our partner enquiry form.