Dell, the PC and IT systems maker, has announced a new programme to encourage support and development for servers that use chips designed by UK company ARM.
The company says that customers are increasingly interested in using ARM-based chips, which consume less power than traditional processors, in "hyperscale" environments. This term is used to describe data centres with a large number of servers that support highly distributed workloads, typically "large web, cloud and big data" systems.
Under the new programme, Dell will deliver an ARM-based server, called Copper, to select customers and partners. It will also allow developers to build software for the ARM server platform by giving them remote access to Copper servers in its data centres.
Steve Cumings, executive director for data centre systems at Dell, said that customers are still only experimenting with the use of ARM servers.
"The ARM server ecosystem is still immature, with a limited software ecosystem and (until now) no ARM-based servers from a tier one OEM," he wrote in a company blog post. "Customers have told us they don’t plan to put ARM servers into a production environment, but instead want servers to test and validate in their labs."
Nevertheless, he wrote, "we believe ARM-processor-based infrastructures demonstrate promise for web front-end and Hadoop environments, where advantages in performance per dollar and performance per Watt are critical."
Last year, Hewlett-Packard announced a new ARM-based server platform named Redstone. The company claimed it consumes up to 89% less energy and 94% less space that traditional alternatives.
HP’s Redstone platform is based on ARM-designed chips manufactured by a Texas based start-up called Calxeda. For Copper, Dell is working with US company Marvell.
Published last week, Dell’s most recent financial report revealed that the company’s attempts to transform from a PC maker to an IT systems and services vendor has yet to stem its steady decline in sales. In the first quarter of the year, Dell’s server and networking revenues grew by just 2% year-on-year to $2.0 billion.