First ARM SystemReady certification for the data centre

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

ARM has seen a key step for its move into the data centre with the first certification of a ‘SystemReady’ server based on an ARM processor.

ARM introduced the SystemReady programme in 2020 to ensure software compatibility across a formal set of compute platform definitions from the cloud to IoT and edge. In the data centre in particular, this was key to challenging the dominance of x86 processors and servers.

Microsoft Azure has achieved SystemReady SR certification for the Ampere Altra ARM-based server, the first cloud solution provider (CSP) server to do so.

The Azure Virtual Machines series featuring Ampere Altra ARM-based processors are the first virtual systems to be certified under the new ARM SystemReady Virtual Environment (VE) certification

“At its core, the ARM SystemReady compliance certification program preserves the investments that we and customers make in our software stacks,” said Arun Kishan, Technical Fellow and Corporate Vice President (CVP), Microsoft. “For Microsoft Azure, the SystemReady platform certification means we can easily move from one generation to another. For customers, the SystemReady Virtual Environment (VE) certification means that their software investments are preserved across multiple VM generations as well. ARM’s SystemReady compliance program is an essential component of building an innovative and evolving server ecosystem.”
The SystemReady program has reached over 50 certifications since its launch. This includes the Morello evaluation board, the first ARM-built evaluation board certified to the SystemReady ES specification. In addition, the ARM Morello SoC is the first ever ARM-built SoC that is compliant to PCIe ECAM. This means the Morello board supports generic off-the-shelf operating systems such as Windows, VMware and Linux, out of the box, with no need to patch.

The success with Morello is greatly due to its compliant SoC, achieved with the pre-silicon compliance tests. Before the Morello SoC was manufactured, the design went through pre-silicon compliance testing to ensured the chip is compliant with the Base System Architecture (BSA) specifications for software compliance.

Testing for pre-silicon compliance de-risks the expensive production of silicon, by having confidence that the end hardware is designed to run software successfully. The pre-silicon compliance testing tools and solutions are available from EDA partners, and developed in collaboration with Arm.

One of those pre-compliance tools is a pre-validated sub-system. The Corstone-1000 sub-system has also been certified in the SystemReady IR band, integrating the ARM Cortex-A core with Cortex-M microcontroller cores. This comes with an extensive set of configuration options which have been fully verified.

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