Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Srinivasan Sundara Rajan, Glenn Rossman, Janakiram MSV, 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
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lea...
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Roundee / LinearHub will exhibit at the WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LinearHub provides Roundee Service, a smart platform for enterprise video conferencing with enhanced features such as automatic recording and transcription service. Slack users can integrate Roundee to their team via Slack’s App Directory, and '/roundee' command lets your video conference ...
24Notion is full-service global creative digital marketing, technology and lifestyle agency that combines strategic ideas with customized tactical execution. With a broad understand of the art of traditional marketing, new media, communications and social influence, 24Notion uniquely understands how to connect your brand strategy with the right consumer. 24Notion ranked #12 on Corporate Social Responsibility - Book of List.
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Adobe is changing the world though digital experiences. Adobe helps customers develop and deliver high-impact experiences that differentiate brands, build loyalty, and drive revenue across every screen, including smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs. Adobe content solutions are used daily by millions of companies worldwide-from publishers and broadcasters, to enterprises, marketing agencies and household-name brands. Building on its established design leadership, Adobe enables customers not o...
What are the new priorities for the connected business? First: businesses need to think differently about the types of connections they will need to make – these span well beyond the traditional app to app into more modern forms of integration including SaaS integrations, mobile integrations, APIs, device integration and Big Data integration. It’s important these are unified together vs. doing them all piecemeal. Second, these types of connections need to be simple to design, adapt and configure...
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, will compare the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, e...
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
What does it look like when you have access to cloud infrastructure and platform under the same roof? Let’s talk about the different layers of Technology as a Service: who cares, what runs where, and how does it all fit together. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, an IBM company, spoke about the picture being painted by IBM Cloud and how the tools being crafted can help fill the gaps in your IT infrastructure.
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
IoT offers a value of almost $4 trillion to the manufacturing industry through platforms that can improve margins, optimize operations & drive high performance work teams. By using IoT technologies as a foundation, manufacturing customers are integrating worker safety with manufacturing systems, driving deep collaboration and utilizing analytics to exponentially increased per-unit margins. However, as Benoit Lheureux, the VP for Research at Gartner points out, “IoT project implementers often ...