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Intel Announces Atom Server Processors For 2012

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 19 comments

Intel and ARM are already clashing as traditional processor architectures are moving into new market segments.

There is some buzz about ARM-based servers and it appears that this market is attractive enough for Intel to compete here as well. The company said that it will be releasing Atom-based processors that will target the microserver segment by 2012.

Details are scarce: The only slice of information Intel released so far is that the CPUs will consume less than 10 watts. The company downplays the opportunity and said that the microserver market will account for less than 10% of the overall server market. Is Intel simply defending its turf with a new product? Possibly. Even 10% of the server market are hundreds of millions of dollars.  And let's not forget that Intel's business model is based on the idea to sell more chips every year. Atom processors fit this model very well, especially since the profit margins are very high.

An advantage of the Intel architecture may be the ability to combine Atom processors with other low-power Xeon processors. Intel said that microservers will target light processing requirements in ultra-dense server environments.

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  • 1 Hide
    dogman_1234 , March 16, 2011 10:44 PM
    Yeah right.
  • 2 Hide
    LordConrad , March 16, 2011 10:50 PM
    It will be soundly beaten by Brazos and Zacate.
  • 0 Hide
    someguynamedmatt , March 16, 2011 11:01 PM
    ...cool. And then AMD will crash through the server market with their own upcoming processors and completely rip Intel's atom inside out. Good luck with that. This is where I'm glad AMD decided to shift focus towards the server side of computing instead of trying to please the exponentially smaller enthusiast market...
  • Display all 19 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    ltbob , March 16, 2011 11:10 PM
    Hmm looks interesting...

    Like mini-servers that fits in your pockets and run on little battery for lan partys!

    :p 
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 16, 2011 11:23 PM
    Itbob: I assume you mean the ARM server chip, and not the Intel version... The Intel version will consume 150 watts, with only 16 cores... Which will put it on par with AMD's bulldozer offerings for total core count and TDP, but with 1/50th the performance of the Bulldozer part. Colossal fail.
  • 0 Hide
    jkflipflop98 , March 16, 2011 11:39 PM
    By the time you add up how many ARM / Atom chips it takes to rival the processing power of a Xeon, you may as well just buy a real server chip.
  • 0 Hide
    warmon6 , March 17, 2011 12:04 AM
    hmmm..... i wonder if microsoft had anything to do with this as they're wanting a 16 core atom chip from intel....

    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/16-core-Atom-SoC-Dileep-Bhandarker-Xeon,12102.html
  • 1 Hide
    joytech22 , March 17, 2011 12:22 AM
    Well you better hope your workloads can use at least 48 cores minimum if running off ATOM CPU's, since that's about as fast as a high-end XEON.

    But in saying that, it WOULD look pretty cool to show off 48 threads, as long as nobody finds out it's an ATOM system.
  • 0 Hide
    jimmysmitty , March 17, 2011 1:04 AM
    LordConradIt will be soundly beaten by Brazos and Zacate.


    Yet still wont consume less power. I don't think people see where Atom wins. Brazos and Zecate on the low end laptop and netbook market kill in graphics and performance but still don't touch Atom in power usage and for netbooks, thats more important.

    Intel plans 22nm this year which means Atom will see a refresh as well early next year. 22nm looks to be very efficient in power since Intel was demoing its SRAM at less than a volt running at 3.8GHz.

    In servers as well, power means a lot. If the company can put more Atom CPUs to work that consume less power than the same amount of Brazos or Zecate CPUs, they will because the cost savings will more than make up for it.
  • 2 Hide
    ta152h , March 17, 2011 2:40 AM
    I read these comments and wonder where they're coming from.

    The main reason Intel would do this is to head off any non-x86 (ARM) from gaining traction. Once it does, software gets ported to it, and it can move upstream relatively easily. It's best just to head it off before it appears, because once it develops momentum it's much harder to stop.

    Next, the purpose of these low performance processors is not to somehow equate to the processing power of higher end processors, using more threads. People just don't get it. There are many workloads that are i/o based, not processor based. Do I want to waste 45 watts on something that's not using 10% of my processor capacity, if it's always waiting on the hard disk anyway? File servers don't need powerful processors in many situations, and it's not about getting 48 Atoms to equal a high-end Xeon. One Atom equals a high-end Xeon if the workload doesn't require much CPU time, and the Atom costs less, costs less to run, and costs less to cool.

    There's a place for both, obviously. I still use a K6-2 on a server. Why? Because it wouldn't make any difference if I replaced it with something else. There are plenty of workloads like this, where the performance depends on the hard disk, not the processor.
  • 0 Hide
    dogman_1234 , March 17, 2011 3:08 AM
    ^ Will x86 die soon. Why continue to beat a dead horse?
  • 0 Hide
    cookoy , March 17, 2011 5:19 AM
    you'll need a bunch of thin waiters to serve a bunch of jumbo size customers. and forget about those apps that rely on server side processing power. while everybody waits and overtime plies up, the IT dept can claim they saved 50 bucks in electric bills.
  • 0 Hide
    sudeshc , March 17, 2011 5:58 AM
    ltbobHmm looks interesting...Like mini-servers that fits in your pockets and run on little battery for lan partys!


    LOL thats exactly what i was gona say.........
  • -2 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , March 17, 2011 8:04 AM
    wasnt this already discussed and it would use less power vs performance to use underclocked undervoltaged core processors (corei5/i7)???
  • 0 Hide
    ta152h , March 17, 2011 11:41 AM
    dogman_1234^ Will x86 die soon. Why continue to beat a dead horse?


    I'm all for it too, but ARM is crap too. It's almost as old, and is based on the 6502, a horrible instruction set too.

    It's not clear to me why they don't use a modern instruction set, instead of these tired old warhorses that are less efficient.
  • 0 Hide
    K2N hater , March 17, 2011 2:01 PM
    That's for NAS and other embedded solutions. It's just the same Atom we see everyday but it comes with better QC standards for extra stability and official ECC support. I say official because all current x86 hardware support it but motherboard/processor makers prevent it from being enabled in order to sell their overpriced "server" parts.
  • 0 Hide
    K2N hater , March 17, 2011 2:30 PM
    TA152HIt's not clear to me why they don't use a modern instruction set, instead of these tired old warhorses that are less efficient.

    It's all about laziness/expenses with recoding/porting software. Even if OS developers release a much better OS it may take decades for businessmen to switch over to the new architecture.
  • 0 Hide
    synphul , March 18, 2011 4:12 AM
    TA152HI still use a K6-2 on a server. Why? Because it wouldn't make any difference if I replaced it with something else. There are plenty of workloads like this, where the performance depends on the hard disk, not the processor.


    I agree, each has their place. Same thing can be seen with home users, there's no point in soccer moms or grandparents sporting a system with 6 processing cores and eyefinity graphics over something less expensive and less power hungry that will easily handle the tasks they require such as email, instant messaging etc. Everyone's needs vary and I'm surprised how many people can't seem to grasp this concept. "Cool factor" aside, why drive a crewcab pickup with a v-10 engine in it just to get to and from college classes where a less expensive and more fuel efficient sub compact would suffice? Businesses care far less about bragging rights than they do pinching pennies.. they have nothing to prove except a fatter bottom line profit and savings.

    I'm surprised at all the people posting nothing but criticism of either Intel or AMD everytime a news release is made. They know just how many of these new cpu's will be required because apparently they have the inside scoop on the exact tasks these machines will be performing. Of course they always know better, know what instruction sets should be used and why.. because after all, they're so brilliant that they've scoffed when either Intel or AMD came to them with job offers and are currently running a more advanced and lucrative company that will leave both these tech giants in the dust. lol. I think the correct expression here is /* end wet dream */
  • 0 Hide
    g00ey , March 18, 2011 6:42 PM
    TA152HI'm all for it too, but ARM is crap too. It's almost as old, and is based on the 6502, a horrible instruction set too. It's not clear to me why they don't use a modern instruction set, instead of these tired old warhorses that are less efficient.

    So what processors are there that offers modern instruction sets? Itanium? MIPS? Dec Alpha? Sparc?