Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Intel Atom S1200 server processor launch. The morning’s focus was on the current 6w Centerton generation Atom parts, but one could tell that there was a lot of room to go. As I was in the launch event, I posted both on the main site and in the forums. The event was attended by HP, Microsoft and Facebook as partners to talk about the architecture. The basic theme of all speakers was that this is a low CPU compute power, high density server play. Here is some of the highlights of what was not in the press release.
The Intel Atom S1200 family was targeted at the low CPU compute server market. Typical applications include NAS systems, web servers and other appliances.
Many of the usual suspects are on the list of supporting partners. I thought I saw in the presentation that QNAP was a partner with a design win, but I may have been wrong. The overall goal was to go after ARM impending server market debut. Here is Intel’s Infographic on power consumption:
To me, the ARM players could use the same graphic to show why their solutions are even better than Intel’s. I am not quite sure why the Intel Atom S1200 family does not have things like SATA ports onboard or a gigabit Ethernet MAC. The ARM server guys are going to push this hard in the coming 18 months.
Intel Atom S1200 Performance vs. Density
In the previous piece and in the forums I quoted the following while I was taking notes at the launch.
Estimated Intel CPU Revenue per rack
- Intel Xeon E3 low power: $32.9K USD 2x Web transactions / rack
- Intel Atom S1200 $35.8K USD – 5x more nodes/ rack
- *Based on 560 Intel Atom cores per rack and ~110 Intel Xeon cores/ rack
Here is the actual slide as presented. I do want to note that the Wall Street Journal and representatives from various investment firms were on hand. It was clearly an attempt to head off fears about cannibalizing revenue.
Intel since updated the deck to give details including some performance numbers.
This is somewhat interesting. One thing to keep in mind is that the Intel Xeon E3-1265L v2 is a quad core 8MB L2 cache part running at 2.5GHz base with a max Turbo Boost speed of 3.5GHz. The Intel Xeon E3-1265L v2 is a 45w TDP part so it is probably the best performance per watt part in the current Intel Xeon E3 v2 lineup. With Haswell based Intel Xeon E3 v3, this is likely to change considerably.
Also, extremely interesting here is that the Intel Xeon E3-1265L v2 only has a 15w platform overhead even with twice the RAM, 2x 10GbE NICs v. 2x 1GbE and 480GB SSDs over 150GB SSDs. Maybe this all comes down to power delivery and fan options since the Dell C5220 blade is a shipping product while the Intel Atom S1260 figures seem theoretical.
Intel Atom S1200 Centerton Designs
At the event, Intel also showed off some designs from their partners. Lighting was not so great but here are a few. The first design is an Intel microserver design. One can see various types of Intel Atom S1200 motherboards in the chassis.
Here is a picture of one of the boards out of the chassis. You can see dual Intel Atom S1200 CPUs on here. There are also two ASPEED 2000 series packages on the single PCB.
Here is a supermicro platform with a 1U riser. It is a short depth chassis meant for telco racks. You can see the Supermicro X9SBAA-F motherboard inside the chassis.
Overall it does appear as though we are going to see opportunities for 8GB ECC DDR3 SODIMMs with Centerton. Most of the Intel Atom S1200 systems I saw had a single SODIMM slot per CPU.
Overall, I think the Intel Atom S1200 server SoC is a step in the right direction. Intel’s goal is x86 across the data center. The idea is that more money is spent in software and maintaining software rather than hardware. On the other hand, server-grade ARM SoC designs are popping up everywhere. This time next year, Intel will have transitioned their Atom line to 22nm but at the same time there will be a whole flock of ARM SoC servers out there. 2013 should shape into a defining year for Intel in the data center.