The growth of such trends as cloud computing and mobility is having a significant impact on data center infrastructures, which are being tasked with running huge numbers of smaller workloads. Web-based companies like Facebook and Google are looking to fill their massive data centers with small, power-efficient servers that can run such workloads and quickly create and support cloud-based services.
IDC analysts last month said such density-optimized servers are the fastest growing segment in the server market.
“The datacenter build-outs by service providers are driving growth in the industry and represent a strategic opportunity for OEMs, while at the same time IDC is seeing new participants enter the market targeting the hyperscale datacenter segment," Jed Scaramella, research manager of enterprise servers at IDC, said in a statement.
Intel is driving its Atom platform—originally created six years ago for the netbook space and later for mobile devices—into the microserver space. Avoton came nine months after Centerton, and the 14-nanometer “Denverton” is due out next year. At the same time, ARM and its various partners see an opportunity to move their low-power architecture—which is dominant in smartphones and tablets—into the data center.
How this will all pan out has yet to be decided, according to Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst with Insight 64. Intel officials argue such advantages as a strong and well-known x86 architecture and ecosystem and familiar development and management tools. ARM and its partners have said that many of the new workloads are based on open software, which runs on the ARM architecture, and that organizations are not as tied to the Intel Architecture as before.
Brookwood told eWEEK that given how new the microserver space is, businesses have yet to give their opinion through their buying decisions. Until they do, it will be difficult to determine in which direction needle will move.
“I’m going to wait to let the market tell me where they’re going to go,” he said.