SAN JOSE, Calif. – Taking aim at a growing set of low power ARM-based server processors, Intel Corp. will ship next year its first CPU for servers based on its Atom core and consuming less than 10W. The news comes days after startup Calxeda said it plans a quad-core ARM Cortex A9 server SoC that will consume just 5W including associated DRAM.
Intel said it also plans to ship a 15W server processor later this year based on its latest SandyBridge architecture. In addition, it announced it currently has two Xeon server processors in production that consume 45W and 20W.
Intel will open before June a lab where developers can analyze data center software running on the chips. It has been selling relatively low power server CPUs for two years, previously hitting a low of 30W with one of its Xeon chips.
Warehouse-sized data centers from companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others have been using stripped down server boards in an effort to save power, one of their biggest bottlenecks. A Facebook engineer spoke in support of the Intel approach at an event launching the new chips.
Intel addresses the market with what it calls microservers, multiple single-socket CPU boards that share a chassis. Dell, Tyan, Supermicro and Quanta are among companies using the Intel CPUs and board designs. The segment will make up less than 10 percent of the overall server market for the next 4-5 years, Intel said.
ARM-based processor vendors are courting the market, attracting interest in non-x86 processors from a growing array of data centers and OEMs.
Marvell's Armada XP is a 1.6 GHz quad-core Cortex chip consuming up to 10W and already in test systems at top tier data center customers. Startup Tilera's 64-core, 32-bit processor using a custom architecture not based on ARM is currently shipping, and the company has promised a 100-core, 64-bit version for later this year.
One sever maker recently debuted a system using a dual-core ARM chip from STMicroelectronics.
ARM rolled out its A15 core last fall with enhanced memory support for servers and networking gear. However, the company has not described plans for a 64-bit core yet.