While many Silicon Valley IT giants have been quietly testing ARM based servers, we got news yesterday that Chinese search giant Baidu is using ARM servers from Marvell in its production environment. Baidu is using the servers for its cloud storage requirements and the company says the platform can take the amount of storage a 2U chassis can handle up to 96 terabytes. Total cost of ownership should drop 25 percent, according to Baidu.
All of this is driven by the desire to lower energy bills for webscale IT companies. The reality likely is setting in at Intel that even if the semiconductor leader manages to hold on to the market with its low power Intel Atom chips, there’ll be competition for the first time (yeah, I know AMD exists, but even AMD realizes that its best shot at being competitive is to head in the ARM server direction.)
Search giants have massive storage needs and it’s interesting to see storage as an early testing area for ARM servers rather than typical web deployments where the focus is on parallel processing capabilities at low power. But it suggests that ARM servers can deliver more IPOS/throughput at a lower cost while enabling the same storage sizes as x86 competitors. That’s another threat to Intel.