Last week, SemiAccurate saw the new Dell server form factor, and to put it bluntly, it is really cool. The Marvell Armada version of these 3U form factor tray/blades/thatthingyoverthere is called Copper, probably in homage to SemiAccurate’s very own. If you take out the Marvell boards and replace them with Calxeda blades, you get a project called Zinc, no link yet though. Rumor has it that the Gallium and Germanium machines will be out later this year, but the Arsenic line based on Nvidia SoCs is proving rather toxic at the moment. Yes, we made up those last three, but could you resist that chemistry pun?
Back to reality, the new Dell systems are going to be put in to place at TACC and some nodes will be donated to Apache. Like the Calxeda Opencloud demo systems, the Zinc nodes will be usable by Apache projects for porting software to the new ISA. This is a very slick way to get the ball rolling on the software front, and should result in some pretty optimized ports in short order.
In the end there is only one thing that counts, sales. The thing that drives sales is workloads that benefit from what Calxeda, Dell, and ARM provide, and workload applicability is an open question at the moment. If your problem maps well to this hardware, you will do well with an ARM server, if not, stick with x86. At least you have a choice now that is testable with real world code, and you can kick the tires yourself if you want. Have at thee.S|A