SeaMicro's cloud server sports 512 Atom processors

The server is designed for fast-moving workloads like Web applications

SeaMicro's SM10000 cloud server packs in 512 Atom processors

SeaMicro's SM10000 cloud server packs in 512 Atom processors

SeaMicro has developed a server that packs in 512 low-power Intel Atom processors on miniature motherboards the size of credit cards, the company announced Monday.

Atom processors are more commonly found in netbooks, but Andrew Feldman, SeaMicro's CEO, says they can be more power-efficient than x86 chips for certain cloud and Web transaction workloads. Such transactions tend to be smaller in size but higher in volume.

"Today's servers are inefficient on small workloads," Feldman said.

Higher-performance chips like Intel's Xeon and Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron are efficient at running traditional enterprise workloads such as database applications, he said. But he believes a collection of small Atom cores provides better performance-per-watt in the cloud.

"Atom turns out to be good at ordinary problems and not great at hard problems. The Internet is all about ordinary problems," Feldman said.

Other vendors have also been turning to alternative, low-power chips in servers. Dell has built servers around Via Technology's Nano processor for some of its cloud customers, and Microsoft's research group has built some experimental Atom-based servers.

SeaMicro designed its new server, called the SM10000, with as few components as possible to save space and reduce power consumption. It has 512 miniature Atom motherboards, connected by a fabric that provides throughput of 1.28 terabits per second, the company says.

Server motherboards usually include components for tasks related to storage and networking, but SeaMicro says it virtualized the I/O through an ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit). The ASIC emulates the hardware, which has helped eliminate "90 percent" of the components from the motherboard.

"This technology allows us to shrink the motherboard to the size of a credit card," Feldman said. The only major components remaining are the DRAM, ASIC and Atom CPU, he said.

The server is 10 rack units high, or 17.5 inches, and includes storage and Ethernet switching. It uses Atom Z530 processors running at 1.6GHz. The server needs one-quarter of the power and space a traditional "best-in-class" server would need for the same workload, Feldman said.

The Atom chips could be replaced by other x86 chips or by Arm-based processors, he said.

The SM1000 has a unique design that could lead other vendors to rethink how they build servers, said Cal Braunstein, CEO of Robert Frances Group, a market research company.

"They have designed it for particular usage. By doing that they are able to have an architecture that allows them to use the Atom and divide workloads among a large number of processors simultaneously," Braunstein said.

The server is good for specific types of Internet tasks, Braunstein said.

Many data centers are running into power constraints. Servers like the SM10000 can help solve that problem while reducing energy bills, he said.

The server is due for release July 30, priced starting at US$139,000. SeaMicro said some customers are already using the server, though it declined to name them.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags intelintel atomserver clustercloud serverhigh performance computing (HPC)SeaMicro

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?