Today, Intel introduced its new Atom processor S1200 product family. The announcement gives Intel bragging rights on delivering the world's first low-power, 64-bit server-class system-on-chip (SoC) for high-density microservers.
As public clouds continue to grow, Intel sees an opportunity to transform companies providing dedicated hosting, content delivery or front-end Web servers. Intel designed high-density servers based on low-power processors to meet that opportunity.
"We recognized several years ago the need for a new breed of high-density, energy-efficient servers and other data center equipment," said Diane Bryant, vice president and general manager of the Datacenter and Connected Systems Group at Intel. She added that the new processor offers key data center features, like reliability and manageability.
Under the SoC Hood
The Intel Atom SoC includes two physical cores and a total of four threads enabled with Intel Hyper-Threading Technology2. The SoC also includes 64-bit support, a memory controller supporting up to 8 GB of DDR3 memory, Intel Virtualization Technologies, eight lanes of PCI Express 2.0, Error-Correcting Code support for higher reliability, and other I/O interfaces integrated from Intel chipsets. The new product family will consist of three processors with frequency ranging from 1.6GHz to 2.0GHz.
The Intel Atom S1200 product family is also compatible with x86 software commonly used in data centers. Intel said this makes possible integration of the new low-powered equipment and avoids additional investments in porting and maintaining new software stacks.
"Organizations supporting hyperscale workloads need powerful servers to maximize efficiency and realize radical space, cost and energy savings," said Paul Santeler, vice president and general manager, Hyperscale Business Unit, Industry-Standard Servers and Software at Hewlett-Packard. "HP servers power many of those organizations, and the Intel Atom processor S1200 will be instrumental as we develop the next wave of application-defined computing to dramatically reduce cost and energy use for our customers."
David vs. Goliath
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said the IT industry loves a horse race, since it gives vendors a chance to pitch their own solutions as thoroughbreds and to portray competitors' offerings as thorough-going nags.
But, King added, the industry loves a David and Goliath story even better. That's because when the resulting brouhaha casts a spotlight on plucky start-ups and promotes them as front runners, it quenches Silicon Valley's endless thirst for self-mythologizing and also serves to benefit venture capitalists and other early-stage investors, he said.
"The ongoing interest in what have come to be known as microservers contains melodramatic elements of both of these dynamics, but Intel's launch of its new Atom S1200 processors may change that," King told us. "Why? Because while initial interest around microservers centered on the efforts of entrepreneurs leveraging ARM-based architectures and technologies, those companies are months or even years away from offering all of what Intel can deliver with the new Atom S1200 family."
Intel is already working on the next generation of Intel Atom processors for extreme energy efficiency codenamed "Avoton." Available in 2013, Avoton will further extend Intel's SoC capabilities and use the company's leading 3-D Tri-gate 22nm transistors, delivering world-class power consumption and performance levels.
The Intel Atom processor S1200 is shipping today to customers with recommended price starting at $54 in quantities of 1,000 units.