ARM adds virtualisation to Cortex A

August 25, 2010 | 10:14

Tags: #arm-cortex #arm-eagle #arm-server #atom #cortex-a #eagle #server #virtualisation #x86

Companies: #arm #intel

ARM is continuing to pile the pressure on Intel with a push towards the server market - and its next chip, codenamed Eagle, might give its rival cause for concern.

While ARM processor designs have long dominated the portable and embedded device markets - with their high performance-per-watt characteristics - they've never previously been directly marketed at desktop or server markets, where Intel rules the roost. The ARM Cortex A processor - also known as Eagle - looks to change all that with technology aimed directly at servers: virtualisation extensions.

According to InfoWorld's report of the announcement at the Hot Chips conference, ARM's answer to Intel's VT - Virtualisation Technology - in the Cortex A chip will allow the processor to better compete with Intel's offering at the low-power end of the server market.

With virtualisation market leader VMware already pledging to develop hypervisor software to take advantage of the Cortex A, Intel should be concerned by the rate at which ARM's processor designs appear to be making the move from ultra-portable to server sectors - and with considerably more aplomb than Intel's own attempts to break into the mobile market with its new Atom chips.

ARM isn't looking to shy away from its core competency, however, with company representative David Brash stating that other developers are working on hypervisors specifically designed for the embedded and mobile market - bringing the possibility of slates and smartphones which are capable of running multiple different operating systems simultaneously, either for reasons of security or to allow different tools to be used for different tasks.

Although ARM hasn't announced when the Eagle will be landing, Brash has claimed that commercial production quantities from the company's hardware partners and licensees are "very, very close" to being released.

Do you believe that ARM has a chance against Intel in the server market, or will the lack of support for the architecture from Microsoft always hold the company's chip designs back? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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