AMD launches new generation of low-power microservers — including one with an Intel chip


Advanced Micro Devices
began selling its first Intel-based low-power servers after it acquired SeaMicro for $334 million in Feburary. The move was AMD’s first move into energy-efficient “microservers,” which were based on low-end Intel Atom processors rather than high-end Intel Xeon server chips.

Back in the spring, it was no surprise that AMD would still be selling SeaMicro’s microservers with Intel chips. But today, AMD’s SeaMicro division launched its brand new SeaMicro SM15000 server, which runs with Intel’s E3-1260L Sandy Bridge-based processor. In November, AMD will start shipping new machines with a new generation of AMD Opteron processors with AMD’s Piledriver core as well as Intel’s Xeon E3-1265Lv2 Ivy Bridge processor. In other words, AMD is accommodating SeaMicro’s existing customers by shipping whatever processor that want, even if that gives some business to Intel.

SeaMicro’s small and power-efficient computers enable enterprises to cram more computing power into a given amount of space and use a lot less electrical power. That cuts electricity bills, the largest cost of operating a data center. Using Intel Atom processors, SeaMicro had become the fastest-growing system company in Silicon Valley history before AMD bought it. SeaMicro’s customers include France Telecom, Skype, Rogers Wireless, Mozilla, eHarmony, and China Netcom BB. Hundreds of millions of internet users traverse SeaMicro’s hardware daily.

As we’ve described in earlier stories, Intel has been improving its server microprocessors by making them more power efficient. But the microprocessor only accounts for a third of the power consumption in a server. SeaMicro’s innovation lies in how it attacks the remaining two-thirds of the power consumption problem. It does so by combining a lot of the extraneous chips into a single, more-efficient custom chip. With the low-power cores, SeaMicro can now fit thousands of cores and also 5 petabytes of storageinto a single microserver.

“The rise of virtualization, cloud computing, and big data require a new generation of compute in which networking and storage are equal partners in the solution. This does not fit the mold of traditional servers,” said Andrew Feldman, general manager and corporate vice president of the Data Center Server Solutions group, AMD. “We are at the beginning of a new wave of computing that requires data centers to become pools of computing and storage resources with the flexibility to expand in both dimensions.  The SM15000 system removes the constraints of traditional servers and allows data centers to expand compute, networking and storage independently. By supporting the newest generation of processors, the SM15000 server will continue our tradition of being the highest-density, and most power efficient micro server in the market.”

The new SeaMicro SM15000 server can fit 512 cores in a ten-rack system. Each system has 64 slots for server cards. Diane Bryant, head of Intel’s data center server chip business, said about the AMD use of Intel server chips, “We love all customers. We are happy to sell Intel Xeon chips to anyone.”

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