Intel's low-power Atom processor will be familiar to anyone who's used a netbook or nettop, but at least one company is betting it can take the chip to a whole new place - the high-performance server market.
According to coverage over on CNET
, start-up SeaMicro has just announced a deal with the US Department of Energy to launch the SM10000 10U server, which features 512 individual Atom processors stuffed tightly into its rackmount casing.
Justifying its decision to use such a large quantity of low-powered processors - instead of the more common approach of a lower quantity of extremely powerful chips - the company claimed that its inaugural product meets the unique needs of an Internet data centre where "the challenge is to handle millions of relatively small, independent tasks like those needed for searching, social networking, viewing web pages, and checking e-mail,
" or exactly the sort of thing where the number
of processing cores is of far greater advantage than the power
of the processing cores.
Speaking of power, SeaMicro claims that the SM10000 draws up to 75 percent less juice than a traditional server of equivalent capacity - meaning that companies can both drop their power bill drastically and reduce their data centre's heat output, providing their particular usage is suited to a whole mess of Atom processors.
The SM10000 is expected to launch in the US at the end of next month for an eye-watering starting
price of $139,000 (around £94,110) - although if you find yourself needing 512 processors in a single box you're probably a bit beyond worrying about the price.
Can you see a market for a vast quantity of low-power processors, or would companies be better off filling the same 10U space with a series of Magny-Cours
-based servers? Share your thoughts over in the forums