ARM puts a data centre on the desktop

ARM puts a data centre on the desktop

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Working with chip designer Marvell, PicoCluster has combined six developer boards into a box that is less than a cubic foot. This is being shown for the first time at a show in China this week. 

The PicoPod is used to develop network functions virtualization (NFV) software for telecoms applications, and is one way that ARM sees the ARM-v8 64bit architecture making its way into full sized data centres. The picoPod runs software for a new specification of NFV called Pharos that has been developed by ENEA, allowing developers to test out new implementations at the desktop. The pod combines six Marvell MACCHIATObin developer boards with a Marvel Prestera DX Ethernet switch, giving developers access to a total of 24 ARM Cortex-A72 processor cores. 

“Our latest collaboration milestone uses the collective know-how of ARM, Enea, Marvell and PicoCluster, putting a data centre on a desktop into the hands of NFV developers,” said Noel Hurley, vice president and general manager of the Business Segments Group at ARM. “The power efficiency, scalability, and cost advantages of the ARM architecture are only meaningful if we make investments in our developer ecosystem. Only through ongoing collaboration and investing in all of the tools required by developers can we expand the realm of what’s possible for next-generation networks.”

Each MACCHIOATObin board uses four ARM Cortex-A72 processor cores in the ARMADA 8040 system on chip, while the Prestera DX 10GbE switch supports fully packaged Layer2 and Layer3 networking application software that exposes the Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) API to enable various open source network operating systems.

“Collaborating with ARM, Enea and PicoCluster allowed us to create a compact and converged compute and networking modular system,” said Michael Zimmerman, VP and GM, Networking Group at Marvell Semiconductor. “The transition to edge computing and networking force new modular configurations that can scale from 4 to 24 cores and beyond. Using the Marvell MACCHIATObin board and Open API Prestera DX Ethernet switch provides the community with an ARM 64-bit NFV development platform. Marvell’s ARMADA multicore ARM-based portfolio combined with Marvell’s Open API Prestera DX switch and Alaska PHY families are designed for scalability, from 1GbE to 25GbE, enabling modular edge computing and networking.”

“NFV PicoPod is really the start of something new,” said Craig Brown, CEO of PicoCluster. “Never before have you been able to have this kind of compute and network power in such a compact and power efficient format. It is literally a data centre on the desktop. There is nothing else like this anywhere. It’s been great working with ARM, Marvell and Enea on building an accessible ARM-based Pharos cluster for VNF development and verification.” 

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