UK-based hyper-convergence startup bets on ARM processors

2016-10-03 - By 

Cambridge, U.K.-based startup Kaleao Ltd.  is entering the hyper-converged systems market today with a platform based on the ARM chip architecture that it claims can achieve unparalleled scalability and performance at a fraction of the cost of competing systems.

The KMAX platform features an integrated OpenStack cloud environment and miniature hypervisors that dynamically defines physical computing resources and assigns them directly to virtual machines and applications. These “microvisors,” as Kaleao calls them, dynamically orchestrate global pools of software-defined and hardware-accelerated resources with much lower overhead than that of typical hypervisors. Users can still run the KVM hypervisor if they want.

The use of the ARM 64-bit processor distinguishes Kaleao from the pack of other hyper-converged vendors such as VMware Inc., Nutanix Inc. and SimpliVity Inc., which use Intel chips. ARM is a reduced instruction set computing-based architecture that is commonly used in mobile devices because of its low power consumption.

“We went with ARM because the ecosystem allows for more differentiation and it’s a more open platform,” said Giovanbattista Mattiussi, principal marketing manager at Kaleao. “It enabled us to rethink the architecture itself.”

One big limitation of ARM is that it’s unable to support the Windows operating system or VMware vSphere virtualization manager. Instead, Kaleao is bundling Ubuntu Linux and OpenStack, figuring those are the preferred choices for cloud service providers and enterprises that are building private clouds. Users can also install any other Linux distribution.

Kaleao said the low-overhead of its microvisors, combined with the performance of RAM processors, enables it to deliver 10 times the performance of competing systems at least than one-third of the energy consumption. Users can run four to six times as many microvisors as hypervisors, Mattiussi said. “It’s like the VM is running on the hardware with no software layers in between,” he said. “We can pick up a piece of the CPU here, a piece of storage there. It’s like having a bare-bones server running under the hypervisor.”

The platform provides up to 1,536 CPU cores, 370 TB of all-flash storage with 960 gigabytes per second of networking in a 3u rack. Energy usage is less than 15 watts per eight-core server. “Scalability is easy,” Mattiussi said. “You just need to add pieces of hardware.”

KMAX will be available in January in server and appliance versions. The company hasn’t released pricing but said its cost structure enables prices in the range of $600 to $700 per server, or about $10,000 for a 16-server blade. It plans to sell direct and through distributors. The company has opened a U.S. office in Charlotte, NC and has European outposts in Italy, Greece and France.

Co-founders Giampietro Tecchiolli and John Goodacre have a long track record of work in hardware and chip design, and both are active in the Euroserver green computing project. Goodacre continues to serve as director of technology and systems at ARM Holdings plc, which make the ARM processor.

Kaleao has raised €3 million and said it’s finalizing a second round of €5 million.

Original article here

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