Since the world likes open standards, which anyone can use and build upon without fear of reprisals or need for licensing fees, Dell decided to attend the Open Compute Summit in Santa Clara, California.
Dell isn't making it easy for them though. In fact, the company has managed to capture quite a bit of attention by promoting an ARM-based solution.
Since the ARM architecture no longer has its biggest problem (lack of 64-bit support), Dell took advantage of that.
Its project culminated in the collection of X-Gene 64-bit ARM-based servers. The one brought to the summit is called Dell Iron.
Iron can have up to six ARM servers per board, leading to a top number of 72 ARM servers in a single 3-unit case.
Since all ARM sleds support the Open Compute Project remote management specification, the server can work in the same chassis with AMD or Intel servers as well.
This is the best way yet for combining the performance of the x86 architecture with the power efficiency of ARM.
To prove that it all really works, Dell's Chief Architect & Technologist Jimmy Pike demonstrated an Iron board in a system with Intel servers. A Project Sputnik laptop controlled the whole thing, running Ubuntu and the Ipmitool 1.8.12 open-source management tool.
The Open Hardware Management draft remote control specification is based on the Data Center Manageability Interface, which, in turn, is a subset of the Intelligent Platform Management Interface. It exists to make sure all systems in an OCP-based hyperscale environment (huge data centers used by Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc.) work well together.
It will fall to customer businesses to decide if they want to combine Intel's Silicon Photonics and/or AMD's Open 3.0 with Dell's design.