How Microsoft tests

Building Windows for the ARM processor architecture Excerpts:
You might be wondering how we are testing WOA in our labs. For x86/64 we run massive labs (thousands of machines, real and virtualized) and highly automated test runs for every single daily build. WOA required us to reimagine our own lab and test processes. For testing x86/64, it is simple to just order thousands of rack-mounted servers, or even virtualize them; for ARM, there are no standard rack-mounted servers that can run WOA. Since we’re doing highly integrated hardware/firmware/software development, and virtualization is not helpful, we had to devise our own approach.

We consolidated hundreds of ARM development boards along with a custom I/O board into a rack assembly connected to our testing infrastructure. Our original design focused on density supporting 300 ARM devices in one rack, but we ultimately preferred the diagnostics and availability of a custom I/O board in the 1U setup. ... We designed our own 1U chassis that fits into a standard server rack. Either a full form-factor device or just the motherboard can be dropped into this chassis. Once fully assembled, the SoC board in conjunction with the IO board and chassis looks, feels and operates like a standard rack mount PC and fits right in with existing lab infrastructure.

Each 42U rack holds 32 WOA chassis plus network switches, debug host PC, and USB hubs. By March we will have over 100 fully populated racks for WOA testing.
Comment: WOA (Windows on ARM) is Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system that will run on both ARM processors (think tablets) and x86/64. Video is worthwhile!

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