Doubts regarding ARM CPU servers

I do not know if this question is in the right spot...

I have been using RaspberryPies for the lasts years and I was wondering questions about ARM CPUs in general, so I would like to know more about you guys's ARM's experiences... So the questions are:

  1. I recently have been seeing some cloud providers use ARM based CPUs in their services (as I did notice aws and oracle are using it) so is there any comercial CPU to use it in servers (with ARM architecture, of course) which I can buy and use it in, lets say, an HP Proliant DL380 Gen10 or a DELL server? I have been seeing AmpereComputing and they sell a very good micro but it's apparently tied to some hardware vendors (Foxxcon, Gigabyte, Supermicro...)

  2. Can ARM CPUs use 64bits instructions? I'm trying to compare them with actuals 64bits

  3. Could I use KVM in these ARM CPUs for, obviously, virtualization? Could I also use LXD and Docker or Containerd?

  4. Is there an ARM CPU that I could compare with, let's say, an Intel(R) Xeon(R) Silver 4110 CPU?

Answers 3

    1. yes, you can buy ARM CPUs for servers separately, for example NXP's layerscape processors. Not in single quantities, I bet, but if you're in the business of building servers, you can.
      No, you cannot just plug in a CPU into a different board. This has never worked, not even within the same architecture; your board needs to be designed for the CPU.
      No, as of now, most of these CPUs are meant to be soldered to the board, and not socketed. That has a lot to do with there not being any necessity for an upgrade path. Why include a socket when nobody will ever want to use the same board with a cheaper CPU or a future CPU? It's very rare that you'll find hyperscalers pulling their servers from their racks and replacing the CPUs; no sense in using last generation's RAM, storage interfaces and hardware limitations when you need to upgrade. This is not only the case for ARM, by the way. Similar forces can be observed in x86(_64) microservers.
    2. Yes. For years aarch64 has been available, it's standard on midrange- and highend phones, the Raspberry Pi 4, Apple hardware… Also, the servers you can rent support > 4GB RAM. You must not have researched this very well!
    3. Yes. Of course virtualization is a thing. Oracle, AWS, Azure,… don't just hand you control over a server.
    4. I don't know you, so I can't tell whether you can compare something! However, the sheer existence of ARM cloud server offerings competing with x86_64 offerings strongly indicates there's a lot of fair comparisons to be made.

    1. I'm not aware of server ARM CPUs being sold separately, not as part of a platform.
    2. ARM v8 and higher which have been available for over a decade now: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_architecture_family#64/32-bit_architecture
    3. KVM, yes: https://systems.cs.columbia.edu/projects/kvm-arm/ Docker, LXD and containerd: absolutely, they don't use virtualization but you can obviously run only native ARM64 code. There are 65 times more x86-64 docker images than ARM64 images: https://hub.docker.com/search?q=&type=image&architecture=arm64
    4. AnandTech publishes such articles, e.g. https://www.anandtech.com/show/16979/the-ampere-altra-max-review-pushing-it-to-128-cores-per-socket

    This is all easily Google'able.


  • The HPE DL380 is explicitly Intel while the DL385 is AMD based. HPE does sell servers such as the Apollo 80 with ARM CPUs. A google search will turn up the full list.


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