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Gigabyte Releases ARM Enterprise Motherboard

By - Source: Gigabyte

Gigabyte and ARM are not what most people would consider the most natural of partners. That has changed, however, with the news that Gigabyte, in association with two premium ARM design companies (AppliedMicro and Annapurna Labs) have collaborated to provide a best of breed ARM SoC (System On a Chip) centered on standardized motherboard formats that is designed for high-density data centers. 

Gigabyte's initial offering is based around a single server offering, in two versions: the motherboard-only MP30-AR0, and racked in a 1U case (R120-P130). This board comes with single socket eight-core CPUs and a maximum of 128 GB of RAM. Other features include mulitple SATA disks, IPMI and dual 10 Gb network out the box. This offering is squarely designed for system builders to build machines for OpenStack environments and allow DCs to replace inefficient hardware in a standard rack layout.

News of Gigabyte entering the market is not unexpected, as extremely large-scale DCs are starting to realize the potential energy saving that can come from lower-wattage CPUs that are more efficient, consume less power, and generate less waste heat. Gigabyte is effectively hedging its bets on a future datacenter that uses both X86- and ARM-based CPUs. Keeping the standardized 1U format is a clever move, because it allows companies to swap out hardware at will, unlike a lot of super high-density custom designs that can restrict swap-out operations.

These boards are designed to run in large OpenCompute environments where redundancy is dealt with by having machines servicing the same load across many racks and zones rather than building in N+1 redundancy and the expense associated with providing it.

Without stating the obvious, these machines were not designed to run anything other than Linux at the bare metal level. The other potential pain point for integrators or end users is that the only currently supported operating system is Ubuntu 14. Over time, one would hope this would expand to cover other systems in use, such as Debian and RedHat.