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ARM receives aid from Russian firm in developing x86 tech

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:x86 programs?

Software which will run on x86 programs on ARM-based servers are currently being developed by Russian engineers. The software being developed could have the potential to lower one of the biggest barriers that ARM SoC makers face: getting their chips adopted as alternatives to Intel x86 processors.

Elbrus Technologies has developed emulation software which can deliver 40 per cent of native ARM performance. The company believes that it could reach 80 per cent native ARM performance or greater by the end of 2014. The code has been described by analysts as a significant yet limited option.

A growing list of companiesincluding Applied Micro, Calxeda, Cavium, Marvell, Nvidia and Samsungaim to replace Intel CPUs with ARM SoCs that pack more functions and consume less power. One of their biggest hurdles is their chips do not support the wealth of server software that runs on the x86.

The�emulation code from�Elbrus Tech could help lower that barrier. The team will present a paper on its work at the ARM TechCon in Santa Clara, Calif., Oct. 30-Nov. 1.

The team's software uses 1 MB of memory. "What is more exciting is the fact that the memory footprint will have weak dependence on the number of applications that are being run in emulation mode," Anatoly Konukhov, a member of the Elbrus Tech team, said in an e-mail exchange.

The team has developed a binary translator that acts as an emulator, and plans to create an optimisation process for it.

"Currently, we are creating a binary translator which allows us to run applications," Konukhov said. "Implementation of an optimisation process will start in parallel later this yearwe're expecting both parts be ready in the end of 2014."

"The major concern for us is lack of software developers with binary translation expertise," he added. "This is also the reason for us to estimate project release in late 2014."

The Elbrus Tech software uses a parallel compilation process and stores translations in volatile memory to decrease overhead when starting up. The binary translator will have "several levels of optimisation for 'cold' and 'hot' regions of code," said Konukhov.

Work on the software started in 2010. Last summer, Elbrus Tech got $1.3 million in funding from the Russian investment fund Skolkovo and MCST, a veteran Russian processor and software developer. MCST also is providing developers for the project.

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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