Feature Rich

But not all servers are compute limited. Quite a lot of server tasks are I/O limited. Think static webserving, reverse proxys (Varnish server), in memory key value stores (Memcached), all kind of network servers and "cold" storage servers.

Low End Server SoCs: feature comparison
Feature Opteron A1100 Atom C2000 Xeon-D
Max. RAM Capacity 4 x 32 GB RDIMM 4x 16 GB RDIMM 4 x 32 GB RDIMM
PCIe 8 gen 3.0 lanes 16 gen 2.0 lanes 24 gen 3.0 lanes
8 gen 2.0 lanes
6x SATA3
Ethernet Dual 10 Gb Dual 1 Gb Dual 10 Gb
USB Not Integrated 4x USB 2.0 4x USB 3.0
4x USB 2.0

With 14 SATA ports and two real 10 Gb Ethernet ports, AMD's A1100 is a great place to start to build a storage device. Considering that quite a few storage devices now use a quadcore A15, which is limited to 4 GB of RAM (16 GB with PAE tricks), an octal core A57 that can address 128 GB opens up new opportunities. The quad core A1120 will do nicely even though it might consume up to twice as much (25W) as Annapunra Labs Alpina AL5140 SoC (Quad A15 at 1.7 GHz), which needs around 10W. In a storage device with 16 disks, 10W should not be a deal breaker, especially if you can offer more caching, faster encryption and higher overall performance.

The specs do not look bad for a caching server either, as 32 GB RDIMMs are less expensive per GB than 8 GB RDIMMs now.

Software Support, or Why it Took So Long

The other big question is of course why A1100 took so long. The answer to that is actually pretty simple. Some of the building blocks like fine tuned ACPI and PCI Express support for ARM CPUs were not initially adapted to the server world, and AMD needed to wait for those to come along to give A1100 a fighting chance.

Just look at the slide with software support and see the comment "supports ACPI and PCIe". That would look pretty odd on an announcement of an x86 server CPU, but it is relatively new for a 64 bit ARM server environment. You might ask yourself how our Applied X-Gene server worked well with Ubuntu server nine months ago. The X-Gene server ran a specially adapted version of Ubuntu. That is fine as a temporary solution, but unless the modifications go "mainstream linux", each new version must be adapted again to make it work with your server. Costly and time consuming, so AMD went the other way, making sure that the necessary improvements were part of the official Linux kernel.

For the Ubuntu fans: the A1100 runs on top of ubuntu 15.10. According to AMD, it is fully functional but at the moment without support of Canonical.

SKUs and Specs Silver Linings in the Cloud
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  • bernstein - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

    it all depends on what you what you want, this is aimed at a use case with lots of hdd's & ram (thinking zfs here) plus failover 10GbE. so for a high-end high-density soho nas it looks perfect... that's a niche but it's one the a1100 is a few hundred dollars cheaper...
    just wish the huskyboard would expose all 14-sata ports, as without them it's pointless...
  • jospoortvliet - Thursday, January 21, 2016 - link

    Hmmm, an ngnix/centos based caching server or redis memcache is, in terms of software, free. Maintenance costs money but that's it. Storage-wise, there is GlusterFS and openstack doesn't cost money either. Plenty you can run on these machines at extremely low costs...
  • tijag - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    I'd hardly call that bashing. The question he should have asked is how the heck is this company still in business when it executes this poorly? Now that is bashing.
  • nandnandnand - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    It's not bashing to tell the truth. AMD is striking out once again.
  • eanazag - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    I wouldn't consider this a strike out. This is a walk or a bunt for first. This is not as bad as their x86 desktop line.
  • makerofthegames - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    Did you read the same article I did? I found it to be mostly-balanced, and if there was any bias it was in *favor* of AMD. It seems quite likely this will find a niche in NAS systems, and seems like a good groundwork for future iterations.

    I will look forward to more intelligent comments in the future.
  • jjj - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    This feels more of an empty press release for investors.
    Your perf guess seems low,maybe it does quite a bit better with the final silicon and software.
    Power is crazy but A57 on 28nm , kinda to be expected and they can't really clock it at 1.2Ghz for 1.5W per core since perf would be too low.
    Don;t really think AMD expects more than pilot programs and further work on the software from this part.
    Still if you look at how A57 vs A72 do in phones, makes you regret they don't , at least, have A72 here on 28nm.
  • cygnus1 - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    I don't know that it's fair to compare the power numbers when AMD is including 2 10gb network controllers in their SoC and Intel doesn't. The better comparison would be Xeon-D, and it'd TDP is close to 50% higher.
  • JohanAnandtech - Friday, January 15, 2016 - link

    Consider that the actual 10 Gbe ethernet interface is of course not on the SOC die (just the MAC), the integrated 10 GBe components are probably only a few Watt.

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