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Jon Masters
Works at Red Hat
Attended University of Nottingham
Lives in Cambridge Massachusetts, USA
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Jon Masters

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There's nothing better than reading this listed as a selling point of a new +ARM v8 server:

"Fully compliant with ARMv8-a architecture as well as ARM’s Server Base System Architecture (SBSA) and Server Base Boot Requirements (SBBR) standards."

I wrote the first draft of the SBBR back in the day. It's awesome that people are finally standardizing on UEFI and ACPI out of the box, with decent firmware from AMI. This is what customers want. When I was at the Gigabyte launch a week ago, the number one thing customers would come up to me and say (even if they didn't know me and my motives ahead of time) was that they need ARM servers to look and feel like their existing x86 ones (and yes, that includes having the nominal processor frequency correctly displayed in /proc/cpuinfo, but don't worry, we are coming to clean that stuff up that many Linux developers think is silly - but actual end system users expect and demand to be "just like x86" - too).

This is why we invested so much time in making that happen from the first day. I am not a fan of "transitions". We made it clear it would be SBBR on day zero, not "U-Boot and DeviceTree just for now", but "U-Boot and DeviceTree just for never". Some folks didn't listen, especially those in the Linux community who wanted to fight success and progress rather than embrace the opportunity. I am glad that they have come around to accept the inevitably of standardization on ARM. It will be standard from the first day of primetime, there will be no indefinite lasting transition period "just for now".

Transitions don't work. People should have been doing it this way three years ago when I said. They are doing it the correct way now, and as a consequence will now succeed. We are now going to see a wave of highly boring ARM servers that just do the right thing, and look like what people know. You can rip and replace or add, depending on taste. It's all standard and boring and "just works".
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Jon Masters

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I am in Shanghai giving a keynote at the GIGABYTE launch of many different mainstream Cavium ThunderX 64-bit #ARMServers including this entry level 32 core design that will be highly affordable...

All of these machines are built to industry standards and so can run Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server for ARM. The power of these platforms shipping in volume will be awesome for the emerging ARM server market!
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+Matt Sealey​ it was $3k
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Jon Masters

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Considering that the matrix of cache organization, topology and design tradeoffs from the different vendors might want to exist beyond just inside my head. Definitely need to get writing a lot of internal documentation on the many varied ARM server SoCs.
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Jon Masters

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The way you should think of the ARM server market is (as I do) in terms of Trébuchet count. There's a fort with some really strong walls, but the trébuchet count will continue to increase until the total force is insurmountably overwhelming on said fort. At that point no amount of laughing and ignoring the impending industry transition will make a difference. Every week history is more on the side of those of us who are keen to see competition return to this industry.

I need better sketching skills. It would be a great cartoon image: a fortress named Mission College with a flag waving in the breeze, trébuchets launching, and a series of small ARMies with different flags marching forward from all sides. And a couple of generals on white horses with ARM flags.
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Jon Masters

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Ever wake up in the morning convinced that your cause must succeed for the betterment of humanity? That's how I feel about ARM most mornings.
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Jon Masters

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Ask yourself (and your British MP) one question: do you think it's really right for someone who has won no election to be writing letters stored in safes on Trident submarines tomorrow?

One of her first duties of office is to write these last ditch emergency orders. She will also destroy the rest of the country while she's at it, but ask yourself whether you want to trust any of that responsibility to a power monger who didn't even stand for election. May ought to call for a general election, but that is probably the last thing on her (closed) mind.
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Jon Masters

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If you walk down the street (let's say, in Texas) carrying military style weaponry and the police confuse you for a bad guy during a tragedy...I have negative sympathy for you and your open carry cause. If you must have your guns, fine, have your guns, but you don't need to be a total a-hole about it at the same time. No, I don't support open carry. I also think guns are terrible things that should be removed from the face of the earth. But I reluctantly see the argument folks have for lawful gun ownership and "enjoyment". I don't see the argument for anyone to walk down the street with a military weapon. By that argument, why aren't you allowed to walk down the street with a nuke? A: because even the NRA realizes there's a limit somewhere. They just haven't taken their heads out of their asses long enough to realize it stops short of having nukes.

</rant>
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Jon Masters

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My LinuxCon Japan talk will explain why it has taken so long for ARMv8 server platforms to show up in the wild. In a word: standardization. But we are rapidly getting there now, so it's appropriate to reflect upon lessons people should have learned when they were first offered enlightened wisdom.

I got on my standardization hobby horse about 5 years ago. At that time (the same is now happening for future storage and IoT designs) it was identified that a critical dependency for mainstream real Operating Systems (such as RHEL) is that SoCs are built properly, to unified and rigid specifications, and so it was necessary to swoop into action and correct for a potential mess before it happened (this is something Google should do with Android if they ever want to really clean up their mess too).

This is why we created SBSA, and SBBR (UEFI, ACPI), to prevent an embedded zoo from taking hold just enough to compel us to come in later and spend dramatically more time and money cleaning things up in the ARM server space if they were allowed to get out of hand early on. After years of pushing my own personal agenda built upon a desire for a functional server marketplace built upon competition from alternative architectures, I am proud that all pending and future ARMv8 server designs are known to run RHEL out of the box. That's phase 1 of the master plan completed.

Then there's the question of where the hardware is at. That's a question of motivation. The disruption from ARMv8 servers will hit the high volume cloud infrastructure providers first. They have the volume to drive competition and they aren't dependent upon some of the traditional ecosystem. They also control their own fate and can commit fully. As a consequence, you will see hardware show up in the cloud before it shows up in your local ODM catalogue. That said, we are starting to see some ODMs shipping systems to the general public.

The first few ODM systems (a few years ago) followed the usual embedded zoo mess, using non-standard bootloaders and requiring special kernels, and other nonsense. We have (mostly) cleaned this up. Then we had systems that shipped with hacked up firmware which wasn't tested correctly. We have mostly compelled action here. And now a large transition is underway toward the adoption of industry standard firmware vendors providing that piece, just like they do on x86 systems, with a lot of pressure from folks like myself. It has taken about 3 years for everyone to all learn to listen to the advice they are given about how to be successful in market but finally people are actually listening.

In the last couple of weeks, we have seen the launch of a low cost platform from SoftIron that uses AMI firmware and works in the way that things have to be done. Others are learning and will soon execute upon similar low cost platforms for developers. So you will finally get what you should have had 3 years ago within the coming months. Right in time for the silicon performance to be where it needs to be for phase 2 to complete. Some of you will love phase 3, while some won't like the fallout that comes later from that part.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be meeting with more silicon teams. If you're building an ARMv8 server/storage SoC (and who isn't), drop me a line. Let's make sure you're doing it to specifications that will allow you to run RHEL, as well as any other Operating System targeting industry standard specifications (I am happy to see how much SuSE embrace this philosophy as well, and was encouraged to see even Canonical starting to get the value of standardization in their latest release, hopefully their business folks finally saw they won't get to undermine standards with "pay to play" enablement of individual platforms going forward). It's awesome that this will finally include the upstream Linux kernel very shortly.

By 2017, we will have Fedora Server releases with upstream kernels that "just work", and developers will be able to take a server platform and boot a Linus kernel on it without nonsense hacks, and it will just do the right thing like with that other architecture. Because that is how it had to be. It should have been true 3 years ago that an upstream kernel just booted on an SBSA/SBBR platform, and I am very glad there are now enough true believers at the vendors (especially the big ones) that they will ensure this support stays upstream forever where it belongs.
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Jon Masters

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Rational people must break the taboo of talking politics and ensure everyone understands: Hillary Clinton may not be perfect, but Donald Trump is a dangerous, hate filled, bigoted, xenophobic racist who is taking down his whole party with him. If elected, I am convinced he would actually be willing to start World War III just to demonstrate the size of his manhood. He must be defeated. Our children, their children, the free nations and people's of this planet all depend upon him NEVER becoming president. This must stop now before he destroys America. Don't vote for Hillary because you love her. Vote for her because the alternative is an utterly unconscionable liar who idolizes Hitler.
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Hillary For Prison 2016
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Saving folks cycles telling me constantly - yes I am well aware of the news. No further comment.
Japan’s SoftBank has reached a deal to buy U.K.-based chip designer ARM Holdings in an all-cash deal valued at more than $32 billion.
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Just in case folks feel a desire to add a rising sun to their social profile photos today...

http://rainbowfilter.io/japan
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Jon Masters

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The slides from my LinuxCon Japan talk are now online for those interested: http://events.linuxfoundation.org/sites/events/files/slides/LinuxCon_Japan_2016_ARMv4.pdf

Great to see so many familiar faces (and some new ones) at LinuxCon Japan. There are so many great domestic ARM design teams now as well. I am very encouraged to see the ARM server industry gaining momentum in Japan - kudos to Fujitsu and Riken on their Post K announcement helping that along. We will soon have the market cornered at the top, middle, and lower end with ARM based servers.

I am headed to China for a couple of days (watch this space for some fun stuff) and then in Hong Kong next week. I am looking forward to visiting some ARM friends in Shanghai and making a few waves there first...
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Jon Masters

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I just love U-Boot! #aslongasitsnotonservers
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Nearly didn't read the hashtag. I could not believe it. 😃
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Chief ARM Architect at Red Hat, and Technical Lead for Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server for ARM Development Preview
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  • Red Hat
    Chief ARM Architect, 2006 - present
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Cambridge Massachusetts, USA
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Reading, UK - United Kingdom - United States
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Computer Architect | Professional Author | Linux Kernel Engineer | Hiker | Marathon Runner | Violin Player | and much more.
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  • University of Nottingham
    Computer Science
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Charles
Public - 4 years ago
reviewed 4 years ago
Public - 4 years ago
reviewed 4 years ago
I called up, made a reservation for a specific time, and then when I called back at the time they were supposed to arrive, they swore blindly that they had never even spoken with me. Very unimpressed.
Public - 5 years ago
reviewed 5 years ago