Intel launched its new Atom server chips for “microservers” and entry-level data center computers today.

Microservers are a hot category of stripped-down servers that emphasize power efficiency, and Intel’s low-power Atom family of chips is aimed squarely at this market.

The launch shows that the world’s biggest chip maker has moved on board with the idea of providing low-cost, relatively low-performance, and low-power chips for servers, where the task is to serve web pages to users by the thousands or millions. The Atom C2000 chip is in production and more than 50 new systems will be launched using the chip in microserver, cold storage, and entry-level networking markets. The chip is the first based on Intel’s Silvermont processor architecture, which is also the basis for the upcoming Bay Trail tablet chips and Merrifield smartphone chips.

“We have seen new applications at the low end of compute,” said Diane Bryant, the senior vice president and general manager of the Datacenter and Connected Systems Group at Intel.

The Atom C2000, previously codenamed Rangely and Avoton, is built in a 22-nanometer process and it has eight computing cores, compared to two for the prior generation Centerton chip. It has a sevenfold increase in performance and a sixfold increase in performance per watt, Bryant said.

The C2000 is the first of 13 different chips. That means that the chip signals Intel’s shift from providing general-purpose processors to providing custom versions of its core processors.

“We have now the capability to do system-on-a-chip solutions and rapidly turn out new versions,” Bryant said.

The new customizable server chips match a trend in the market. Amazon Web Services supports 18 distinct versions of Windows servers through its hosted data center services. Such services have enabled companies to launch products and services and scale them up by the millions. Bryant noted that Tencent saw its WeChat mobile messaging service grow to 200 million users worldwide in just two years.

Ericsson said that i is using the Atom C2000 in its cloud infrastructure to improve scalability and energy efficiency.

“We have very clear targeting” across categories, Bryant said.

Patrick Moorhead, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said, “Intel is finally getting serious about low power, highest density server computing with their new Atom lineup.  It gets them into new markets like storage servers and also , helps plug a competitive hole. This will compete with chips from AMD, APM, and Calxeda.”