Project Moonshot: HP's Secret ARM Servers Get Official

2011-Nov-02 | Tags: analysishpintelserverx86

Linux on ARMEven as x86 chipmakers like Intel Corp. (INTC) dream of getting a piece of lucrative smartphone and tablet chip market dominated by ARM Holdings plc (LON:ARM) licensees, ARM is ready to take the fight to Intel.  Already preparing to invade the laptop space, courtesy of Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) incoming support with Windows 8, ARM has just taken a major step towards establishing a beachhead on Intel's most fertile and fast growing empire -- the server market.

I. HP Throws Weight Behind ARM

After weeks of rumors, Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ), statistically tied [source] with International Business Machines, Inc. (IBM) as the world's largest server maker in terms of revenue, has announced that it will be deploying ARM-based servers.

HP is a major server supplier to Facebook and Google Inc. (GOOG), the world's two top firms in terms of internet traffic...

II. Top Linux OS Makers Pledge Support to ARM

Alongside the HP Redstone trial deployment, HP announced two other programs. The first is "The HP Discovery Lab".  Essentially an open laboratory where corporate and academic partners can come in and test the new Redstone ARM servers, the first Discovery Lab will be located in Houston, Texas and will open in January.  Additional sites are planned for Asia and Europe...

III. The Big Picture: Who Will Win x86 or ARM?

Will ARM displace x86 in the server market?  It certainly stands a shot, but several obstacles and unknowns stand in the way of its mass deployment.

One big mystery is whether the server OS counterpart to Windows 8, likely to launch next year, will support ARM processors.  Microsoft has already made it clear that Windows 8 will support ARM, but given that until right about now no major firms had ARM server plans, there was no word on Windows Server support.  An endorsement by Microsoft could help ARM gain even more ground in the server market...

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