The acronym “SoC” generally refers to “System on a Chip”. But with SoCs entering the server space, it is also taking on a new meaning: “Server on a Chip”. An SoC is a large scale integration of processor cores, memory controllers, on-chip and off-chip memories, peripheral controllers, accelerators, and custom IP (intellectual property) for specific applications and uses. As Moore’s law continues, chip process geometries shrink, allowing more transistors to reside on the same area of silicon. Traditionally, server processors have used this new real estate to add more cores. But there are better alternatives than just adding more cores for certain applications.
The guys over at Calxeda have been busy showing off their new EnergyCore SoC by running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on real Boston Viridis hardware. It wasn’t a video, demo or emulated environment – it really was running on real hardware!