Intel Faces Placement Headache With Atom N570 CPU

Stealth Server Startup SeaMicro has announced the launched of a new low-power device that uses a new Intel Atom processor, the N570, which amongst other things supports 64-bit technology.

Although way less powerful than Intel's Xeon range, Seamicro has managed to bundle enough Atom processors together to produce a server range that's not only less expensive but also requires 25 per cent of the space as well as a fraction of the power consumption (and therefore dissipation).

The 256 processors found in the SM10000-64 server can apparently match a similar server made up of 40 Xeon processors (although SeaMicro didn't say WHICH Xeon that was). It's interesting to note that Intel custom-made the N570 for SeaMicro which means that others may not have access to it.

The chip has not been listed in Intel's latest price list (20/2/2011); it runs at 1.66GHz with a FSB of 666MHz; there's a 1MB L2 cache, two cores, four threads and a maximum TDP of 8.5w; it is a slight update to the Intel N550 which ran at 1.5GHz and also supported 64-bit.

64-bit architecture means that each chip can address up to 4GB worth of memory, twice as much as before and supports virtualisation, two aspects where the Z530 which powered the previous SeaMicro servers, lacked sorely.

Intel lists the N550 for $86 when purchased in bulk which means that the N570 should cost around $100; that is still significantly less than the cheapest Xeon processor, the E3110, which comes with 6MB cache, two cores, is clocked at 3GHz and has a TDP of 65W.

How will Intel position the Atom processors against the Xeon family in order to prevent any potential overlap (and sales cannibalisation) will be a perilous and difficult exercise especially if the semiconductor giant plans to use Atom to fight ARM.