WOA Issue 30

WOA Issue 30

In this issue

Mergers and acquisitions: Marvell to buy Cavium

Our lead story is Marvell’s acquisition of Cavium. In the arm64 world, Marvell makes among other things the MACCHIATObin single-board computers, which are based on the quad-core Marvell ARMADA 8040. Cavium is perhaps better known to readers of Works on Arm News as the manufacturer of the 96-core ThunderX and forthcoming ThunderX2 SoC. The ThunderX powers Packet’s Type 2A server.

Chipmaker Marvell Technology Group Ltd (MRVL.O) said on Monday it would buy smaller rival Cavium Inc (CAVM.O) in a deal valued at about $6 billion, as it seeks to gain scale in a semiconductor industry that is rapidly consolidating.

Stephen Alpher, managing editor at the financial newsletter Seeking Alpha, reports on leadership changes at the company.

Marvell CEO Matt Murphy will run the merged company, and Cavium CEO Syed Ali will continue as strategic advisor and member of the board.

Valentina Palladino of the trade publication Ars Technica gives some background.

Bermuda-based Marvell makes semiconductors for data-storage devices while California-based Cavium produces communications and networking chips. The deal better positions Marvell to compete with bigger rivals, including Intel and Broadcom, in a semiconductor industry that has changed a lot over the past couple years as companies buy out rivals.

The response from analyst Paul Teach at Tirias Research in Forbes is to wonder if the transaction undervalues Cavium’s shares, based on the upside from Cavium’s new supercomputer-ready ThunderX2.

Cray showed its high-end XC50 supercomputer board containing four two-socket Cavium server nodes (eight processors in all). Cray’s endorsement of the ARMv8 instruction set via Cavium’s ThunderX2 processor is a watershed event for the Arm server field in general and specifically for Cavium. I think it credibly moves Arm way past the “is it performant in servers” question. I never imagined that I would use the words “Cray” and “Arm” in the same sentence.

Ed Maste, Director of Project Development at the FreeBSD Foundation, spoke to Ed Vielmetti, Special Projects Director at Packet on the Wednesday morning Works on Arm conference call. (Us Eds have to stick together.)

His main concern regarding this acquisition was the difficulty of getting his “millennial developers” access to documentation from both Cavium and Marvell. There was no concern about the quality of the docs, but access is difficult, gated behind layers of sales process and non-disclosure agreements. Maste said he and Packet’s Zac Smith “hammered” the Cavium product manager on this issue at the latest Cavium sales conference, and hoped that the merged company would have more of an open culture when it came to sharing data sheets and detailed docs.

Performance: Go crypto library on arm64

The slow performance of Go crypto libraries on arm64 was first reported here in in issue 2017-W46 based on a benchmark analysis by Cloudflare done for the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 product launch. In response, engineers from Cloudflare and Arm are cooperating to fix these issues.

Specifically, the work is to be done to address performance issues in the Go crypto libraries, which to date have been extensively optimized for x86 processors but not yet for arm64. The algorithms in the Go librares crypto/ecsda, crypto/rsa, crypto/aes, and crypto/chacha20poly1305 are targeted for improvement.

The Go source tree had a feature freeze for Go 1.10 on November 1, 2017, which means that the earliest that these issues will be addressed is likely to be in Go 1.11.

Bug fixes: FreeBSD IPv6 and VNIC support on ThunderX

Ed Maste from the FreeBSD Foundation reports that the FreeBSD-12 testing version that’s available on Packet’s Type 2A server now has IPv6 support after a number of bugs were fixed in the vnic driver for the ThunderX’s integrated 10/40G Ethernet interfaces.

Bug fixes: QEMU 2.11 support for Java

Stuart Monteith from Linaro reports on the #worksonarm IRC channel on Freenode that a bug that prevented the QEMU qemu-aarch64 system emulator from running the “Hello World” test program has been fixed by Linaro’s Peter Maydell. The patch can be tested now, and ought to be available in the QEMU 2.11 release. The problem was reported here in Works on Arm News 2017-W41.

SC17: Bitscope Raspberry Pi cluster demo

INSIDE HPC STORY WITH VIDEO

In this video from SC17, Bruce Tulloch from BitScope describes an low-cost Raspberry Pi cluster that LANL can use to simulate large-scale supercomputers. Bitscope’s cluster was the lead story in WORKS ON ARM PREVIOUS ISSUE.

SC17: Jon Masters interview

CAPTAIN ARM INTERVIEW CHARBAX

Kubecon talks: Kubernetes on Android Wear watch (Johnathon Rippy, Netapp)

Johnathon Rippy from NETAPP will be giving a lightning talk, “Watch This”, which describes how he put Kubernetes on his wristwatch. The lightning talk is at Kubecon in Austin, TX at Tuesday December 5, 2017 from 6:00 p.m. to 6:05 p.m.

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