Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Zakia Bouachraoui

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.


Microservices Articles
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, discussed how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He also discussed how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
Most DevOps journeys involve several phases of maturity. Research shows that the inflection point where organizations begin to see maximum value is when they implement tight integration deploying their code to their infrastructure. Success at this level is the last barrier to at-will deployment. Storage, for instance, is more capable than where we read and write data. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Atwell, a Developer Advocate for NetApp, will discuss the role and value...
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term.
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
Consumer-driven contracts are an essential part of a mature microservice testing portfolio enabling independent service deployments. In this presentation we'll provide an overview of the tools, patterns and pain points we've seen when implementing contract testing in large development organizations.
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, ...
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addresse...