ARM could be the future


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Around May last year I bought a Pandaboard to test out an idea I had. What if I could run a cloud platform on ARM severs?

It would be awesome, I could put loads of ARM boards in a rack mount and have an insane core density along with relatively low power and cooling requirements. I could use Arduinos to monitor temperatures and humidities and do useful stuff with that information. Because the price per unit would be so low, hardware failures would cost a lot less. I would either use LXC to slice it up or maybe simply hand out an entire ARM server per instance.

There's questions to be answered tho. Kernel SamePage Merging can, in some cases, make VMs more efficient than bare metal. Could I be smart about the underlying file-systems for the containers and get a similar memory benefit on LXC? If I give each cloud instance an entire board would the loss of shared memory in some cases cost me a lot more than I expect?

I got as far as getting OpenStack running, once I'd fixed a eventlet issue, and it was glorious, but 1GB of RAM just isn't enough to load things up to the point where I could answer my questions, and anyway building my dream in all it's glory would cost millions of £s.

Not long after all this the great guys at TryStack built my dream using some new and amazing Calxeda hardware. It's exciting times for ARM hardware and projects like HP Moonshot mean we'll be seeing a lot more of it in data centers.

I may not have my own data center to play with just yet but having OpenStack running on my Pandaboard last year has me very excited at the possibilities. Especially considering the board has no moving parts and the power source for my tests was USB. Amazing.

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