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Seamicro Puts 512 Atom CPUs In One Server

Seamicro, a little-known hardware startup, has launched a server that manages to cram a whopping 512 Intel Atom microprocessors into a 10U chassis that manages to deliver supercomputer-class performance but consumes only a quarter of the power and occupies only 25 per cent of the space.

It is the first time that Intel's Atom CPUs, which are normally found in cheap & low-powered netbooks, is being used to equip enterprise-class servers, while managing to deliver up to 100,000 SpecInt.

But using some clever engineering, Seamicro claims that the new system, the SM1000, uses only a fraction of the resources, both physical and electrical, of the Dell R610 server with 32nm Westmere Xeon processors.

Andrew Feldman, the CEO of Micro, said that the product, which uses Z530 Atom processors running at 1.6Ghz, may not fit all tasks but should be more than adequate for web-oriented applications, the likes of Facebook, Google or other Web 2.0 ones.

Atom processors however face the growing threat of ARM-based processors like dual core Cortex-A9 models which are about to be launched to the market. These, coupled with speeds that match those of Atom processors, mean that ARM may be able to regain the power/performance crown soon.

In the meantime though, Feldman says that Intel's Atom stands "head and shoulders best in class" compared to its competitors. And that includes dual core Cortex and VIA's Nano. Whether traditional consumers will be turned off by the processors lack of ECC support remains to be seen.

At the end of the day though, it will be a win-win situation for Intel as even the SM1000 won't come cheap (starting price is $139,000) and will bring some diversity to its own product line.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.