SeaMicro's SM10000-XE will complement the Atom-based systems the company has launched over the past 18 months for scale-out data centers.
SeaMicro, which has been selling
low-power microservers running on Intel's Atom processors, is now rolling out
its newest system powered by Xeon processors.
At a press event Jan. 31, SeaMicro CEO
Andrew Feldman unveiled the SM10000-XE, a Xeon-based system with the same
unique designed introduced by the company in 2010 that officials say will offer
the same performance as 32 dual-socket servers, while consuming half the power
and a third of the space. Combined with SeaMicro's current Atom-based servers,
the SM1000-XE will enable businesses to run low-power, high-performing
microservers throughout their environments.
"We want to bring the benefits [of
the SeaMicro systems] to all parts of the scale-out data center," Feldman
The SM10000-XE is a 10U (15-inch) rack
server that holds 64 low-power quad-core Xeon E3-1260L chips, giving the system
1,024 cores in a standard rack. The goal is to make it a complement to the previous Atom-based 10U systems
that SeaMicro has
introduced. Those servers were designed more for lightweight Internet
workloads, Feldman said. The new system is aimed at cloud, Web database and
app-tier applications-such as Java, PHP, MySQL and CouchDB-that need more
With the new system, SeaMicro is giving
businesses more choices depending on whether they need more speed or better
energy efficiency. And it's doing so while still keeping the power consumption
low. Compared with other Xeon-based systems, the SM10000-XE offers half the
power, three times the density and 12 times the bandwidth, he said.
Looking forward, Feldman said he
expects to sell more of the Xeon-based systems than the Atom-powered servers,
in large part because of Xeon's established presence in the server space.
Intel officials in 2009 began talking
about a new class of systems called microservers to address the demands in
large, scale-out data centers used in Internet and cloud environments by the
likes of Facebook and Google. Such systems are dense servers that share
components, such as power. Feldman said scale-out data centers are the fastest
growing part of the server marketplace.
Jason Waxman, vice president and
general manager of Intel's Data Center Business Unit, said microservers are a
key part of the chip giant's overall server portfolio, which includes Itanium
processors for high-end workloads, Xeon for mainstream systems, its evolving Many Integrated Cores (MIC)
high-performance computing, and Atom, which initially was developed for
netbooks but has been extended into microservers. Having the ability to add
Xeon chips to microservers only broadens the offerings.
"It's our goal to make sure we
give people a choice," Waxman said during the event in San Francisco. "It's
important for us to provide multiple systems."
He lauded SeaMicro for its ability to
essentially offer systems that can support both the Xeon and Atom platforms. "It's
not an easy thing to go and do," Waxman said.
SeaMicro has been able to create such
small servers by stripping the traditional motherboard of about 90 percent of
its components, including Ethernet NICs and BIOS chips, which Feldman said
consume power but aren't necessary. He called them "vampires that suck
What's left is a motherboard that
essentially includes the Intel processor-the E3-1260L is the more
energy-efficient Xeon in Intel's lineup-DDR3 DRAM from Samsung and SeaMicro's
ASIC fabric chip, which handles networking and virtualization. SeaMicro uses small
outline dual in-line memory module (SODIMM) memory from Samsung, dubbed Green
DDR3. The energy-efficient SODIMMs are almost half the size of the memory
normally used in servers.
The SM10000-XE uses SeaMicro's new
Freedom Fabric ASIC, which contains the company's I/O Virtualization
Technology, TIO (Turn It Off) technology that enables even better power
optimization by consolidating and turning off unneeded CPU and chipset
functions, and Freedom Supercompute Fabric that ties the mini-motherboards
The result is a system like the
SM10000-XE. Feldman said each 10U system can replaced 500 single-socket servers
from five years ago, with a 90 percent reduction in power.
The SM10000-XE system is available now,
starting at $138,000.
Other tech companies also are looking
for ways to drive down the power consumption of servers while improving
performance. Tilera on Jan. 30
rolled out the third generation
of its many-core processors, the 16-core Tile-Gx16 and 36-core Tile-Gx36.
Company officials also said they expect 64- and 100-core chips by the end of
ARM Holdings and its manufacturing
partners, whose low-power chips are dominant in the mobile device space,
including smartphones and tablets, also are looking to push into the low-power
server space. ARM officials don't expect to get traction in the server market
until 2014, though some efforts already are under way. In particular, Hewlett-Packard is using ARM-designed chips
Calxeda in prototype low-power servers.