Intel: High-Performance and Energy-Efficient Server Deployments Need Both Atom and Xeon

Intel Reveals Atom "Avoton" for Micro-Servers Due Next Year

by Anton Shilov
06/20/2012 | 08:30 PM

Intel Corp. has outlined its vision and roadmap for microservers and discussed how they best suited to handle emerging “scale-out” applications. According to Intel, in a bid to ensure truly high performance when it is needed and truly maximum power efficiency when it is required, the industry needs infrastructure that supports both high-performance Xeon chips as well as low-power Atom chips.


"I believe the industry needs infrastructure that allows them to deploy servers in an efficient manner and have different versions that meet their requirements. Not only do the servers have to adapt to a range of requirements, but they should have the full set of features that customers require: 64-bit pointers and arithmetic, ECC, virtualization support, software compatibility and offer it across both brawny and wimpy cores," said Jason Waxman, general manager of the cloud infrastructure group at Intel.

In a bid to avoid "brawny" (Xeon) versus "wimpy" (Atom) decision making for data centers, Intel proposes to install both Atom-based and Xeon-based nodes and then let software to decide which nodes to use. The exact approach of the initial implementation was not disclosed, but it is likely that at first it may either include different servers or HP Gemini-like infrastructure, whereas eventually heterogeneous many-core microprocessors with different x86 cores for servers may emerge.

The Intel executive provided an update on Intel's roadmap for microservers including new generations of Intel Xeon "Haswell" processors and Intel Atom architecture based 22nm SoC chips codenamed "Avoton", both scheduled for 2013. Unfortunately, Intel did not provide any details about the new Avoton chip, but given the fact that Intel wants Haswell and Avoton to co-exist in data centers, general capabilities of Avoton and Haswell should be in many cases similar.

"Datacenter infrastructure architects and IT decision makers have enough decisions to make.  Given the uncertainty in the evolution of code, it’s only going to get harder to predict the ideal infrastructure. As hardware developers, we need to give customers the opportunity to have infrastructure flexibility and a choice of options that maintain consistency of features and compatibility," said Mr. Waxman.