This post has been authored by Leendert van Doorn, Corporate Fellow at AMD
Developing a software ecosystem to support new hardware technology is hard work. For our ARM-based AMD Opteron™ A1100 Series processor, code named “Seattle,” AMD is working with several key organizations to enable a standard-based server class software foundation – firmware, operating systems, hypervisors, device drivers, and development tools. For me this effort involves a lot of travel to meetings and technical discussions with strategic partners and customers.
One of my recent trips was to Linaro Connect Asia in Macau. In case you didn’t know, Linaro is a not-for-profit engineering organization developing open source software for the ARM architecture. Linaro Connect is a great collaboration event with a mixture of discussion, planning and agreement about engineering projects being run within Linaro. My focus is on making sure the software foundation that is being developed by Linaro adheres to recognized server standards. My goal is to avoid the “wild west” approach that we have seen in the 32-bit ARM world – with specialized software tuned only for specific devices. We need ARM servers to fit with minimal disruption into the existing world of x86 servers – so that data centers can have a clear option on the technology they choose to drive their business.
The Linaro connect trip to Macau was exciting for a number of reasons. First of all, more ARM server partners joined Linaro, most notably Qualcomm. All the key ARM server players are now members of Linaro, making it the perfect forum to drive the enablement of open-source ARM server software support for industry standards.
One such example is ACPI, which despite some of the controversy around it in the Linux community, is the right standard to move forward for Hyperscale because it reduces the disruption in the data center where all the tooling is based on these industry standards. Linaro is actively driving the enablement of ACPI both in UEFI (the firmware stack) and the Linux kernel. This kind of progress was very exciting to experience first-hand.
As a result of enabling these industry standards in ARM servers software, implementing them becomes literally as simple as flipping a (compile-time) switch and with all key server partners being Linaro members, there is little excuse for them not to adopt these standards. The benefits of this teamwork extends to our customers as well as ARM server vendors.
So what does it mean to adhere to recognized server standards? Take for example AMD’s “Seattle” SOC, it consists of industry standard ARM Cortex A57 cores (with SIMD, cryptography and TrustZone® extensions) together with industry standard interfaces such as SATA, PCIe, and NICs. This allows us to be interoperable at the hardware level with existing RAID controllers, hard disks, and a host of other data center peripherals. Similarly, at the software level we are adhering to industry standards as well such as UEFI for the firmware, ACPI, SMBIOS and PSCI to interface to the operating system and IPMI for out of band system management. Conforming to these standards allows us to seamlessly plug into existing infrastructure, thereby reducing the barrier for adoption and, more important, reducing the cost of entry for our customers.
One of my next stops is at Red Hat Summit in April in San Francisco. Red Hat and AMD have a long history of close collaboration – dating back to efforts around bringing 64-bit CPU technology to the x86 world. Our current efforts with Red Hat include our collaboration around Hyperscale computing along with the support for our 64-bit ARM server technology.
In fact, I will be participating on Hyperscale computing panel hosted by Jon Masters, Chief ARM Architect at Red Hat. The panel will include folks from Google, IBM, and ARM and will discuss challenges, opportunities, and emerging trends in Hyperscale computing. If you are attending the Red Hat Summit I encourage you to join what looks to be a lively discussion. The Session is on Wednesday, April 16, 15:40 to 16:40PST.
This is an exciting time for AMD…play to win!
Leendert van Doorn is a corporate fellow at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies, or opinions. Links to third-party sites and references to third-party trademarks are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third-party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.