EMC And ARM Dive Into Facebook’s Open Compute Club


EMC joins despite earlier saying Open Compute-defined systems are not ready for critical data centres

British chip designer ARM and storage king EMC are two of the biggest names to have signed up to the Open Compute Project, coordinated by Facebook. which aims to share technology that makes data centres more efficient.

The social networking giant is currently hosting the Open Compute Summit in the US, announcing a host of projects it believes will disrupt the data centre industry and let organisations avoid vendor lock-in.

Fusion-io, Hitachi, Sandisk, Applied Micro and Calxeda are amongst the other firms to have signed up.

EMC a surprise addition?

EMC jumping on board will surprise some, considering the firm’s ex-COO and now CEO of subsidiary VMware, Pat Gelsinger, told TechWeekEurope earlier this year that hardware based on Open Compute specifications was not ready for mission critical workloads.

“No one is running mission critical infrastructure on Open Compute today. They are taking ideas and bringing them into their products for their mission critical infrastructure,” Gelsinger said. “And even some of those who initiated those projects have backed away from them.”

The storage giant gets much of its revenue by selling complete stacks, based on its own and partner architectures, effectively locking customers in with certain vendors. That’s anathema to the ethos of the Open Compute Project.

EMC, which signed a contract with Facebook earlier this year to supply storage systems, did not have anything to say this week about joining the initiative.

ARM’s presence, alongside a number of its core partners, is less surprising. It is hoping its designs will upset the dominance of x86 chips in the server space, and the common slot architecture announced by the Open Compute Project today could help it do just that.

The Group Hug specification will let ARM and x86 processors work alongside one another, or replace each other with ease. Intel and ARM partners Applied Micro, Calxeda and Tilera are all joining in the Group Hug, pledging support.

According to Ars Technica, Dell was busy showing off an X-Gene 64-bit ARM-based server during the summit. Known as Dell Iron, the server can incorporate six ARM-based system-on-a-chip nodes on a board, which can work alongside Intel and AMD x86-based processors in the same chassis, Dell claimed.

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