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Intel to roll out sub-10W Atom server processor

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:sub-10W? 15W server processors? Xeon?

Intel Corp. is set to launch next year its first CPU for Atom-based servers consuming less than 10Wan effort obviously targeted at the continued surge of low-power ARM-based server processors. The company made the announcement just days after startup Calxeda declared it would develop a quad-core ARM Cortex A9 server SoC consuming only 5W including associated DRAM.

The chipmaker said it also plans to ship a 15W server processor later this year based on its latest SandyBridge architecture. In addition, it announced it currently has two Xeon server processors in production that consume 45W and 20W.

Intel will open before June a lab where developers can analyze data center software running on the chips. It has been selling relatively low-power server CPUs for two years, previously hitting a low of 30W with one of its Xeon chips.

Warehouse-sized data centers from companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others have been using stripped-down server boards in an effort to save power, one of their biggest bottlenecks. A Facebook engineer spoke in support of the Intel approach at an event launching the new chips.

Intel addresses the market with what it calls microservers, multiple single-socket CPU boards that share a chassis. Dell, Tyan, Supermicro and Quanta are among companies using the Intel CPUs and board designs. The segment will make up less than 10 percent of the overall server market for the next four to five years, Intel said.

ARM-based processor vendors are courting the market, attracting interest in non-x86 processors from a growing array of data centers and OEMs.

Marvell's Armada XP is a 1.6GHz quad-core Cortex chip consuming up to 10W and already in test systems at top-tier data center customers. Startup Tilera's 64-core, 32bit processor using a custom architecture not based on ARM is currently shipping, and the company has promised a 100-core, 64bit version for later this year.

One server maker recently released a system using a dual-core ARM chip from STMicroelectronics.

ARM rolled out its A15 core late last year with enhanced memory support for servers and networking gear. However, the company has not described plans for a 64bit core yet.

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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