While ARM and Advanced Micro Devices consider to offer their low-power micro-architectures for servers, Intel Corp. sharply denies any possibilities to position its low-power Atom processors for server systems. It is understandable that Atom cannot offer decent performance in modern server applications, but its low power may still be a benefit for at least certain devices.
There are companies, who offer server-class systems featuring Intel Atom central processing units (CPUs), but Intel does not have any intentions to officially push Atom micro-architecture, which is largely based on the original Pentium design, onto the market of servers. The company does not see Atom competitive on the mass server market and does not want to spend resources onto promotion of its low-power design on the server market.
"We are not opposed to an Atom based server, but we just don't see broad adoption of the Atom as a server chip," said Kirk Skaugen, Intel's vice president and general manager of its data center group, reports IDG News Service.
ARM, a leading developer of low-power microprocessor technologies that power the vast majority of mobile phones, has said numerous times that eventually its designs would power servers with minimal power consumption. Advanced Micro Devices, the world's second largest supplier of x86 microprocessors, also said in the recent weeks that it would test its Bobcat architecture aimed at devices with low consumption of energy in servers.
It is clear that processors specifically designed will provide lower idle power compared to server-oriented AMD Opteron or Intel Xeon chips based on high-performance micro-architectures. But the big question is whether low-power chips will actually be able to work fast enough to provide decent performance to accomplish the task in time without necessity to add many more single-socket Atom-based nodes, which will actually increase energy consumption. For example, a 2-way Sandy Bridge EP-based system will have 16 physical cores and will be able to process 32 threads at once.
"So in a two-socket system you will have 32 threads, which is cooler than putting 32 single-core (probably 16 as Atom support HT - X-bit labs) Atom chips," added Mr. Skaugen, according to IDG.