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Oracle's new Arm-based cloud instances target penny pinchers

Oracle enters the Arm-based processor market alongside other top-tier cloud providers to improve price-performance for cloud app development.

Oracle rolled out its first Arm compute instances to speed app development and improve application performance on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

Rather than design its own Arm server CPU, Oracle tapped a young CPU startup called Ampere and will use its Altra processors in OCI.

To attract cloud app developers, Oracle priced the new Arm instances, called OCI Ampere A1, at one cent per core hour, with VM sizing ranging from one to 80 cores and 1 to 64 GBs of memory per core. It is also available as a bare-metal service with 160 cores and 1 TB of memory.

Oracle also made its development stack, which includes Oracle Linux, MySQL, GraaIVM and the Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes service, available on all Ampere A1 instances. The company also created the Oracle Linux Cloud Developer image, which includes OCI client tools, Java, Python, PHP and Node.js, as part of an aggressive move to draw the interest of open source developers.

"We've worked with a bunch of open source developers including GitHub and Jenkins to ensure their tools will be available in OCI," said Bev Crair, senior vice president of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Compute. "But we have also worked to ensure customers can use those tools using the one-button deploy to get into the OCI cloud quickly."

Oracle enters the Arm-based server market alongside a host of top-tier companies including AWS, Microsoft, Alibaba and others -- most either having delivered or pledging to support Arm-based instances.

"We are continuing to see growing interest in Arm architectures and the public cloud adoption of Arm for either general purpose or workload-specific computing," said Daniel Newman, principal analyst with Futurum Research and CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. "[Oracle] appears to be bringing to market a cost-effective solution to meet this growing interest. This could prove to be an important move to attract workloads to Oracle's cloud offerings over the long run."

[Oracle] appears to be bringing to market a cost-effective solution to meet this growing interest. This could prove to be an important move to attract workloads to Oracle's cloud offerings over the long run.
Daniel NewmanCEO, Broadsuite Media Group

AWS has used Arm's Neoverse N1 core the past two years in its AWS Graviton2 server processor. Nvidia plans to build its own Arm-based processor, called Grace, for high-performance computing and large model training. Microsoft is working internally on designs for Arm processors to be used in servers to deliver its cloud-based services as a way to cut down on its reliance on Intel chips.

Nvidia is in the process of acquiring Arm Holdings from SoftBank Group for $40 billion. The acquisition, which faces regulatory hurdles, would give it entry to the much larger general CPU market, making it a formidable player across the chip industry.

In related news, Oracle is investing in the development of an Arm ecosystem made up of the Arm Accelerator program, the Oracle Cloud Free Tier and the App Development Ecosystem. Together, the three provide developers more options for compute instances and pricing against Intel processors on a per-core basis.

With Oracle Free Tier, developers get $300 in free credits for 30 days. With the Always Free Arm option, developers get four Ampere A1 cores and 24 GB of memory. The Arm Accelerator program gives open source developers, Oracle partners and users access to Arm-based development projects that require resources beyond what the Oracle Cloud Free Tier offers. Participants in this program can apply to receive Oracle Cloud credits lasting a year, Oracle said.

As Editor At Large with TechTarget's News Group, Ed Scannell is responsible for writing and reporting breaking news, news analysis and features focused on technology issues and trends affecting corporate IT professionals. He worked for 26 years at Infoworld and Computerworld covering enterprise class products and technologies from large IT companies including IBM and Microsoft, and served as Editor of Redmond for three years, overseeing the magazine's editorial content.

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