Microsoft announces new version of Windows Server that runs on ARM processors

Last year at Zettastructure, Microsoft announced Project Olympus, their next generation hyperscale cloud hardware design and a new model for open source hardware development with the OCP community. Microsoft is sharing its hardware designs that are actively in development and it allows the community to contribute to the ecosystem by downloading, modifying, and forking the hardware design just like open source software.

At the Open Compute Project Summit today, Microsoft will announce that Project Olympus will also support ARM server processors in addition to Intel processors which currently dominates the server market. To support ARM server processors in cloud hardware design, Microsoft collaborated with Qualcomm and Cavium to develop a new version of Windows server that runs on ARM processors. Microsoft is currently testing ARM server processors for search, storage, machine learning and big data and the next logical thing for them to do is testing it in production.

Qualcomm today detailed their partnership with Microsoft which will enable next gen cloud services on its 10 nanometer Qualcomm Centriq 2400 platform. This collaboration will span multiple future generations of hardware, software and systems.

With the goal of enabling a variety of cloud workloads to run on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform powered by Qualcomm Centriq 2400 server solutions, QDT today submitted a server specification using its advanced 10 nanometer Qualcomm Centriq 2400 platform to OCP. The Qualcomm Centriq 2400 Open Compute Motherboard server specification is based on the latest version of Microsoft’s Project Olympus.

Also, Qualcomm today conducted the first public demonstration of Windows Server, developed for Microsoft’s internal use, powered by the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 processor. Qualcomm also revealed that they have been working with Microsoft for several years on ARM-based server enablement and has onsite engineering at Microsoft to optimize a version of Windows Server, for Microsoft’s internal use in its data centers, on Qualcomm Centriq 2400-based systems. They highlighted that Qualcomm’s OCP submission is the result of a multi-faceted, multi-level engagement between the two companies to facilitate ARM adoption into the data center. It encompasses multiple areas of hardware and software including board development, firmware, operating system, compilers and tools, and CoreCLR.

“Microsoft and QDT are collaborating with an eye to the future addressing server acceleration and memory technologies that have the potential to shape the data center of tomorrow,” said Dr. Leendert van Doorn, distinguished engineer, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Corp. “Our joint work on Windows Server for Microsoft’s internal use, and the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 Open Compute Motherboard server specification, compatible with Microsoft’s Project Olympus, is an important step toward enabling our cloud services to run on QDT-based server platforms.”

We will get more information from Microsoft once the event keynote gets over later today.

Update:

We just want to clarify to our readers that a new version of Windows Server wasn’t unveiled. Microsoft ported a Windows Server Core for their internal evaluation of ARM servers with partners Qualcomm and Cavium. We indicated this port as a new version of Windows Server in our title. Microsoft currently has no plans to commercially release this software.

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