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In line with the trends for ultra low-power servers, Advanced Micro Devices said that it would test its processors based on the Bobcat micro-architecture in server environments. Considering the fact that AMD already has very low power chips for servers, feasibility of using Bobcat micro-architecture is not clear.

"We are definitely in the process of examining this as a design point. It would be foolish not to," said Donald Newell, AMD's new server chief technology officer, in an interview with IDG News Service.

The interest towards low-power servers is growing nowadays. Both AMD and Intel have introduce server Opteron or Xeon chips with massively reduced power consumption in the recent years and AMD this year even managed to squeeze a quad-core AMD Opteron chip into 35W thermal envelope. There are companies experimenting with Intel Atom and Via Nano chips in server environments, but so far such machines have not gained popularity. ARM, the leading developer of low-power architectures for mobile devices, also says that some of its partners are exploring feasibility of using ARM-based microprocessors in servers.

But before Bobcat micro-architecture is implemented in a server chip, AMD has to analyze data like power-versus-performance benefits for specific tasks, including some that are not compute or time sensitive.

"There's only a few papers and there's a lot more data to collect. It really depends on a number of factors to whether or not that's a good design point," said Mr. Newell.

It is clear that Bobcat processors will provide lower idle power compared to AMD Opteron chips based on K10.5 or Bulldozer micro-architectures. But the big question is whether Bobcat chips will actually be able to work fast enough to provide decent performance.

"There's a certain amount of computation to be done, and a certain amount of time for it to be done. The large cores will get more work done in a single amount of time and get you a better answer," concluded the new server CTO of AMD.

Tags: AMD, , Opteron, , , , Nano

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