Oracle optimization agreement brightens ARM’s enterprise server software horizons

ARM chip

Servers using ARM-based chips are now a reality, but the ARM processor architecture is still some way behind Intel when it comes to server software support. So, seeing as Oracle’s Java Virtual Machine (JVM) is widely used to deliver enterprise server applications, it’s notable that Oracle and ARM agreed to add Java Standard Edition (SE) support for 64-bit ARMv8 processors, while enhancing existing Java SE support for 32-bit ARM chips.

This multi-year agreement, announced on Monday, should help Java applications run better on ARM-based multi-core servers and networking systems. According to a statement from the two firms, the cooperation will lead to faster boot-up time, increased power savings and better library optimization. This should in turn lead to more enterprise software running on ARM-based servers – a necessary step in order to validate the still-early-days idea.

However, it’s also good news for Oracle in the embedded space. Machine-to-machine (M2M) systems require low-power processors and this is where ARM traditionally excels. Better ARM support could mean more industrial control and factory automation systems, for example, that run Java-based applications.

ARM made its name in mobile processors and still powers the vast majority of the smartphones and tablets out there. However, the company’s most recent annual report showed shipments of processors for non-mobile devices grew by 25 percent in 2012. On the server front, AMD said in June that it was preparing to release its first ARM-based chip, the 64-bit “Seattle.” Marvell already sells 32-bit ARM server chips.

As regards networking equipment, ARM chips have been used in routers and gateways for some time. We also recently saw Applied Micro play into the software-defined networking (SDN) trend by embedding network smarts onto its ARM-based “server on a chip.” ARM is also pushing hard to see its architecture power macro and small-cell wireless base stations.

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