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6/14/2010
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SeaMicro Intros Server With 512 Atom Processors

The 10U rack-mount server uses 75% less power and space than comparable x86 volume servers, says the company.

SeaMicro SM10000 Server
(click image for larger view)
SeaMicro SM10000 Server
Silicon Valley startup SeaMicro has unveiled a 10U rack-mount server that uses 512 low-power, Intel Atom processors to dramatically cut energy consumption and space in the data center.

The SM10000 integrates the processors with Ethernet switching and server management and load-balancing software to create a standards-based server, the company said in introducing the hardware Monday. SeaMicro claims the server uses 75% less power and space than other x86 volume servers of comparable horsepower.

The SM10000 is built for processing the millions of relatively small, independent tasks associated with Web applications. Those tasks include search, social networking, viewing Web pages, and checking e-mail.

SeaMicro argues that Intel Xeon and Advanced Micro Devices Opteron processors typically used in x86 servers pack more power than needed for most Internet-related tasks. So, as an alternative, the company is opting for 1.6-GHz, single-core Z530 Atoms, which are primarily used today in mini-laptops called netbooks.

To pack so many chips in the 10U rack-mount computer, SeaMicro has stripped the system of most motherboard components, packing eight Atoms, up to 2 GB of DRAM, and a proprietary application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) on a single board. The SM10000 comprises 64 of these mini-servers, which the company claims can run any x86-based Internet application.

The SM10000 can replace 40, dual-socket 1U rack-mount servers running quad-core processors, according to SeaMicro. The server comes with a maximum of eight Ethernet connectors, each of which can contain either eight 1-Gbit ports or two 10-Gbit ports.

For storage, the system supports up to 64 SATA drives, whether hard disk drives or solid-state drives. Maximum storage per drive is 500 GB for HDDs and 256 GB for SSDs.

The SM10000 is scheduled to be generally available July 30 in the United States and select international locations. Prices start at $139,000.

While companies like SeaMicro focus on application-specific servers to reduce power and space in the data center, manufacturers of more typical Opteron and Xeon systems are offering pre-integrated servers and storage arrays designed to host virtualized environments.

The latest is Dell, which introduced new PowerEdge blades and rack-mount servers last week. The PowerEdge M610x and M710HD can be equipped with 192 GB of memory for a greater density of virtual machines per host. The 610 and 710 models both can use up to 12 cores in two CPU sockets running either Xeon 5520s or 5600s chips.

Dell's new offerings were in part an answer to Cisco's Unified Computing System, a converged networking and server environment introduced in March 2009. In addition, Dell is competing with HP's BladeSystem Matrix, which uses blades and switches in powering virtualized environments.

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