Qualcomm Centriq 2400 server for Project Olympus. (credit: Microsoft)
At the Open Compute Summit in Santa Clara, California, today, Microsoft showed off the latest iterations of Project Olympus, its open source data center server design. Until now, the servers in Microsoft’s data centers have all used Intel x86 processors, but now both of those elements—”Intel” and “x86″—have new competition.
In news that’s both surprising and unsurprising, Microsoft demonstrated Windows Server running on ARM processors. Qualcomm and Cavium have both designed motherboards for the Project Olympus form factor that use ARM chips: Qualcomm’s Centriq 2400 processor, a 10nm 48 core part, and Cavium’s ThunderX2 ARMv8-A, with up to 54 cores. In addition to offering lots of cores, both are highly integrated systems-on-chips with PCIe, SATA, and tens of gigabits of Ethernet all integrated.
Microsoft isn’t yet letting third parties use these systems. The Windows Server build is an internal build, and Microsoft is using the systems in those applications where it says they make the most sense, with the company listing search and indexing, storage, databases, big data, and machine learning as workloads that benefit from the high throughput the ARM systems offer.
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