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Google may boost ARM in server space

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  By Rick Nelson, December 17, 2013

ARM is increasingly finding its processor technology expanding from its hold on mobile applications into the server space. Broadcom, for example, is developing a 64-bit ARM-based CPU core with server-class performance, as reported here. Other companies looking to adapt ARM for the server space include Texas Instruments, and Lakshmi Mandyam, director of Server Systems & Ecosystem at ARM, has said, "For the past four years, ARM has been working on bringing the low power leadership we have demonstrated in the mobile and consumer markets into the server space.”

ARM may be getting a further boost in the server space. According to a report from Bloomberg, Google is considering designing its own ARM-based server processors. Google wouldn't comment specifically on the rumor, but Bloomberg quotes Google spokeswoman Liz Markman  as saying, “We are actively engaged in designing the world’s best infrastructure. This includes both hardware design (at all levels) and software design.”

Today, Julie Kunstler, principal analyst for optical components at Ovum, commented, “In Ovum’s view, Google’s move is an extension of its data centre infrastructure strategy, driving the requirements and if it makes sense, building in-house. While it is too early to know Google’s plans, at a minimum, Google is researching server processor technologies and is likely to establish a new set of requirements for processor vendors.”

Ovum emphasized the following points:

  • Google has been designing its own data centers, driving hardware requirements from vendors such as Cisco.
  • Designing its own server processors would provide Google with further control of its data centers.
  • Possibly Google is digging deeper into understanding the component level in order to drive server processor requirements. We saw this move at the hardware equipment level.
  • While processor design takes time, money and skills, Google has shown its ability to recruit talent and it has the resources to license technologies.

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