Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Roger Strukhoff, Darren Anstee

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 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...
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
If you’re responsible for an application that depends on the data or functionality of various IoT endpoints – either sensors or devices – your brand reputation depends on the security, reliability, and compliance of its many integrated parts. If your application fails to deliver the expected business results, your customers and partners won't care if that failure stems from the code you developed or from a component that you integrated. What can you do to ensure that the endpoints work as expect...
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, provided tips on how to be successful in large scale machine learning...
If you had a chance to enter on the ground level of the largest e-commerce market in the world – would you? China is the world’s most populated country with the second largest economy and the world’s fastest growing market. It is estimated that by 2018 the Chinese market will be reaching over $30 billion in gaming revenue alone. Admittedly for a foreign company, doing business in China can be challenging. Often changing laws, administrative regulations and the often inscrutable Chinese Interne...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
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...
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the protocols that communicate data and the emerging data analy...
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...
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
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...
IoT is fundamentally transforming the auto industry, turning the vehicle into a hub for connected services, including safety, infotainment and usage-based insurance. Auto manufacturers – and businesses across all verticals – have built an entire ecosystem around the Connected Car, creating new customer touch points and revenue streams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Macario Namie, Head of IoT Strategy at Cisco Jasper, will share real-world examples of how IoT transforms the car from a static p...
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
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...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.