Iliad SA, a French provider of telecommunications services, is planning to launch a cloud software hosting service in January 2015 that will use ARM servers based on Marvell chips. The service will come from Iliad's Online.net subsidiary, which has been offering preview demonstrations of its C1 server at labs.online.net.
The company is planning to go down this route because it thinks it can achieve lower power consumption and higher power density than the using fewer, more powerful x86 processors and virtualization software to serve multiple clients per server.
The C1 server is based on a 32-bit quad-core Cortex-A9 processor with 2Gbytes of RAM and a 1Gbit/s network card. It is running Ubuntu Utopic with Docker pre-installed on a 20GByte solid-state drive (SSD), the company said.
Online describes its processor as a Cortex-A9 system-on-chip developed "with Marvell" that offers suitable performance for web applications. The server is smaller than a credit card and consumes "only a few watts." According to reports 18 of these small servers on a card can fit on a printed circuit board (PCB) "blade" and 16 such PCBs fit within a chassis.
"We have a better density than virtualized servers and a power footprint which is two to three times smaller. We believe that systems on a chip (SoC) are the future of cloud computing," Online.net state on their website.
However, Iliad is not the first to use Marvell's ARM-based chips in its servers. Iliad has probably made use of variant from the Armada XP family. The MV78460 is a quad-core Cortex-A9 processor and in May 2012 Marvell disclosed that an Armada XP chipset was used in Dell's Copper ARM server.
In February 2013 Marvell said that Chinese search engine giant Baidu was using Armada XP CPUs within its data centers and added that the processor was well suited to tasks that are high on storage but light on computing needs such as cloud-based services and applications, web hosting and social media sites.
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