Arm platforms are beginning to enter the mainstream server and data center market. Over the next few years, we will see a wealth of innovative, high performance offerings within the server arena, from across the Arm Partnership. This coming wave has the potential to bring real innovation and true competition back to the server market. Competition feeds innovation, which feeds more competition, and ultimately customers, end users, and the overall IT market can only benefit as a result.
In the last few years, I have been articulating the importance of having an Arm server architecture standard and compliance program to help accelerate and nurture the emerging Arm server ecosystem. I view this as a critical component of making Arm servers so easy to use that mainstream users can take them completely for granted. We are already at the point where operating systems from leading vendors “just work”, but we are going to do even more – together - to make Arm servers a seamless “out of the box” experience that everyone loves. I have been actively collaborating with Arm and other CSPs, OSVs, SiPs and OEMs in the development of the Arm server architecture. This resulted in the creation of the Server Base System Architecture (SBSA) and Server Base Boot Requirements (SBBR) Specifications. In fact, I wrote the very first SBBR draft myself, and have since collaborated with Arm and the entire Arm partnership in my quest to drive vigorous, compatible and open Arm server industry standards.
These standards lay the foundations for the interoperability between the various operating environments (e.g. Windows, Linux, Hypervisors) and the platforms that contain hardware from multiple silicon providers. This is achieved through a base requirement for a minimum set of hardware and firmware implementations. These standards define what it means to be an Arm server, and are the reason that operating systems “just work” on a wide range of hardware platforms and Hypervisors, affording users the ultimate choice and portability between competitive offerings. The latest versions are SBSA v3.1 and SBBR v1.0, available at developer.arm.com.
Since the creation of these foundational standards, Arm has ramped up its investments in this area, most recently in the creation of the Arm Server Architectural Compliance Suite (ACS). ACS is provided to assist the OEMs and ODMs in validating the conformance to these specifications. Arm recently announced the v1.0 release of ACS.
In addition to these specifications and the compliance suite, I am very glad to see Arm taking the next step of creating a certification logo program – The Arm ServerReady Program. The vision of the program is to see Arm servers everywhere and easy to deploy. It will provide the tools to enable customers to deploy Arm servers with confidence. This program will consist of the ACS and additional OS image boot, install and network tests. Arm and partners will have on-the-ground support for ODMs, where the rubber meets the road.
I believe the Arm ServerReady Program will significantly help the Arm server ecosystems. We, at Red Hat will treat ACS compliance as a prerequisite to our own certification process.
Sign up for updates on Server Ready and ACS
This spec indicates locked-down proprietary firmware, out of the operating system's control. This is exactly the kind of crap why I'm not buying any x86 hardware anymore - ARM used to be free from that mess (ACPI, UEFI, etc).
To make the spec practially usable, some major points need to be added:* any firmware must be replacable by the machine owner* chipset specifications necessary for developing own firmware must be made publically available