High-Power Microservers Target Appliances and the Cloud
Both ARM and Intel, the two leading contenders in the microserver architecture competition, are releasing new 64-bit products.
Microservers are bite-sized systems using multiple low-power processor cores grafted onto an SoC replete with cache memory, I/O circuitry and hardware accelerators. However, in their earliest incarnation, microserver CPUs were too slow, they used a 32-bit instruction set, and didn't support enough memory for server duty. The original Atom and ARM chips, designed primarily for mobile devices, were simply inadequate to power servers.
Poor performance and no applications meant few customers. Indeed, InformationWeek's State of Server Technology survey (registration required) found that only 2% of respondents had purchased a high-density, low-power microserver with a meager 5% even seriously considering them.
All of those objections will soon be ancient history.
Server Market SplitsvilleJust because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.