Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Mihai Corbuleac, Pat Romanski, David Bermingham, Steven Mandel

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Article

Intel Fields Atom for Microservers

It has forecast that microservers could get to be 10% of the server market by 2015

Intel is going to try going after the data center with a brand new Atom System-on-a-Chip (SoC) that can be built into relatively cheap, high-density microservers for cloud providers.

It really rather not - it really wants to sell its high-end chips - but it has no choice. It has forecast that microservers could get to be 10% of the server market by 2015 and it will have to fight for a piece of it after losing a head start earlier this year when AMD plopped down $334 million in cash and stock for SeaMicro, a microserver start-up that already had Intel designed in.

But, given the tone in its voice this week, Intel is apparently serious about the sector, which it's blown off before for defensive purposes.

Intel says the new 22nm dingus, code-named Centerton and seemingly in development since 2007, is the first low-power 64-bit dual-core SoC for these data center systems that's in production and shipping to customers.

Intel makes the production and shipping point because it's looking over its shoulder at ARM, which is promising to deliver a four-core 64-bit version of its widget for microservers by 2014. Like Intel says there's currently no enterprise-class ARM-based server chip but just wait. The ARM contingent is in major test sites.

ARM vendors have trouble buying the Centerton as a real server chip since it lacks on-chip management, I/O, networking and fabric.

Intel's part sips an un-Intel-like 6W of power - which sounds low to Intel camp followers but it's still hot and therefore expensive by ARM standards. It delivers four threads with Intel Hyper-threading.

It's also got familiar server features like Error-correcting Code (ECC) memory support for higher reliability and Intel Virtualization technology for enhanced workload management. (It's suspected that Atom always had ECC and virtualization but Intel turned the features off in earlier generations.)

Microservers, which could be sold in the droves, are supposed to be good at un-intensive compute chores like serving up web pages, content delivery, large distributed memory caching, simple Big Data search systems and MapReduce apps. Within reason, the Centerton is supposed to run the x86 server-class software data centers are used to, which ARM can't do at all.

It's unclear how many nodes Centerton can support. It pretty much depends on how the OEMs finagle the networking. Rival Calexda, which has got ARM-based microservers out for test at major accounts, say it can theoretically support 4,000 nodes and practically support 500-1,000.

See, it takes a lot of systems to process huge numbers of smaller workloads while keeping the power consumption down and such workloads can run many small but highly parallel chunks of code.

Officially designated the S1200, the Intel widget is also expected to be used in storage and networking systems and Intel says - without indicating who's doing what - that the part's got more than 20 low-power server and storage and networking systems design-wins at Dell, HP, Huawei, Inspur, Quanta, Wiwynn, CETC, Supermicro, Accusys, Microsan, Qsan and Qnap.

In fact an unnamed storage vendor reportedly swapped out an ARM design for the Intel SoC and ARMs are supposed to be pretty darn good in storage applications.

HP, which is already in bed with Calexa and its ARM-based boxes as part of its processor-agnostic Project Moonshot, means to try the Intel part in a hush-hush server dubbed Gemini.

This summer HP said the first Moonshot servers would be based on Centerton, with initial systems shipping by the end of this year. It's now more likely to be in the first quarter.

Dell's been partnering with Marvell to create so-called Copper servers using Marvell's ARM-based Armada XP chip but - since Marvell has gone dark about its development - Dell may be closer to selling Calexa boxes.

SeaMicro, the microserver pioneer that AMD had the temerity to buy - considering all of SeaMicro's gear is based on Intel parts - even Intel parts made especially for it - and will be until it switches over to ARM - has a so-called supercompute fabric that connects thousands of processor cores, memory, storage and input/output traffic and supports multiple processor instruction sets.

Calexda, which is hobbled by the fact that it's neither x86 or 64-bit, useful propaganda points for Intel though in the final analysis it may not matter, has fabric, I/O and management built into its chip.

Apparently OEMs will have to wait until later this year or early next when Intel's supposed to deliver a next-generation Avoton Atom that could make the ARM boys sweat.

It'll be built using Intel's fancy new 22nm 3D Tri-gate transistors and should have 16GB-32GB of memory and four or eight cores.

By then Intel might have a fabric too.

Karl Freund, Calexda's VP of marketing, sent around a message about the Centerton saying, "Intel didn't specify the additional chips required to deliver a real ‘server-class' solution like Calxeda's, but our analysis indicates this could add at least 10 additional watts plus the cost. That would imply the real comparison between ECX and S1200 is 3.8 vs 16 watts, so roughly 3-4 times more power for Intel's new S1200. And again comparing two cores to four, internal Calxeda benchmarks indicate that Calxeda's four cores and larger cache deliver 50% more performance compared to the two hyper-threaded Atom cores. This translates to a Calxeda advantage of 4.5 to six times better performance per watt, depending on the nature of the application."

He provided this chart to make the comparison plain:

 

ECX1000

Intel S1200

Watts

3.8

6.1

Cores

4

2

Cache (GB)

4

1

PCI-E

8 lanes

8 lanes

ECC

Yes

Yes

SATA

Yes

No

Ethernet

Yes

No

Management

Yes

No

Fabric Switch

80 Gb

NA

Fabric ports

5

NA

The new Intel S1200 product family will consist of three processors with frequency ranging from 1.6GHz to 2GHz. They start at $54 in quantities of 1,000.

Despite the design-win parade Intel didn't show off any boxes so competitors figure it won't really have the chip for a while. Microsoft and Facebook are supposed to fancy the widget but it's unclear if they're using it.

Atom SoC configuration in a highly dense rack will reportedly net more revenue than a rack of way fewer, more powerful Xeon processors.

In 2014 Intel will move to a 14nm process first for low-power Xeons and then Atoms.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The IoT has the potential to create a renaissance of manufacturing in the US and elsewhere. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Florent Solt, CTO and chief architect of Netvibes, will discuss how the expected exponential increase in the amount of data that will be processed, transported, stored, and accessed means there will be a huge demand for smart technologies to deliver it. Florent Solt is the CTO and chief architect of Netvibes. Prior to joining Netvibes in 2007, he co-founded Rift Technol...
Join IBM June 8 at 18th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn how to innovate like a startup and scale for the enterprise. You need to deliver quality applications faster and cheaper, attract and retain customers with an engaging experience across devices, and seamlessly integrate your enterprise systems. And you can't take 12 months to do it.
This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.
IoT device adoption is growing at staggering rates, and with it comes opportunity for developers to meet consumer demand for an ever more connected world. Wireless communication is the key part of the encompassing components of any IoT device. Wireless connectivity enhances the device utility at the expense of ease of use and deployment challenges. Since connectivity is fundamental for IoT device development, engineers must understand how to overcome the hurdles inherent in incorporating multipl...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, will discuss how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to im...
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
The paradigm has shifted. A Gartner survey shows that 43% of organizations are using or plan to implement the Internet of Things in 2016. However, not just a handful of companies are still using the old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways, unaware of the critical barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can you become a winner? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan will present a methodical approach to guide the holistic adoption and enablement of IoT implementations. This ov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...