8 years ago today, we started a little project to “ultimately support RHEL on ARM”. It started out as a skunkworks effort leveraging the great work that had already been started in the Fedora community around 32-bit Arm devices. 8 years later, we have a great story in both the Fedora and RHEL communities (and many other besides), and the future is strong. With the announcement of Amazon AWS A1 (Graviton) instances last fall, we enter a new phase in which the cloud adoption curve begins and Arm becomes mainstream.
Our goal was always to get to 64-bit as quickly as possible, and to focus exclusively on server use cases, not desktop, tablet, or mobile. We had a number of challenges to resolve along the way, all of which I articulated on day one, in the very first introduction I sent to the fledgling team.
- A single kernel image that can run on all 64-bit Arm servers
- The need for a BIOS and suitable platform abstraction, including runtime services for installing the boot loader and kernel onto a system
- Building natively on Arm servers as a first class citizen
- Standardization and certification requirements
My point is that we always knew exactly what it would take to make Arm servers a mainstream option, but it takes (many) years to shape the conversation and development in a manner suitable to the required enterprise and cloud use cases. It was always a ten year journey. At 8 years, we’re past all of the initial hurdles that we anticipated and headed for the home stretch.
It’s been the absolute most fun project I’ve been fortunate enough to help lead, and I’m looking forward to many more years of fun ahead.