Motherboard and whitebox server maker Super Micro Computer has launched a rack-mounted server that's based on Intel's Atom processor.
This doesn't mean that low-powered Atom and similar processors - like VIA Technologies' Nano and C7 chips - are suddenly going to take over the data centers of the world. But as some vendors have argued - Microsoft being one and Rackable Systems being another - sometimes the most energy efficient thing to do is to use small servers with a modest amount of computing power and storage to match up against fairly modest workloads.
Super Micro is distributing two machines, both of which use Intel's Atom processors, as part of its "server building block solutions." It says that it's delivering the most expansion and best mix of storage of any server maker that is shipping Atom-based gear. The Atom boards plug into special rack and tower chassis made specifically for small form factor motherboards.
The SuperServer 5015A rack chassis is 19-inches wide and 9.8-inches deep and has room for two internal disks and a half-length, full-height peripheral card. There is also a SuperMicro SC502-200B fan-less chassis that the Atom boards can plug into if you dig quiet or can't count on fans to cool the box, as is the case in many embedded applications.
The SuperMicro 5035A chassis has room for four hot-swap SATA disks and a reasonably efficient (85 per cent or higher) 300 watt power supply, and the Atom boards can also be plunked inside the SC731i-300B minitower server/workstation chassis if you want to go tower instead of rack.
Here are the two mobos that SuperMicro is offering in its Atom server lineup. The X7SLA-L mobo has a single-core Atom 230 processor that runs at 1.6 GHz and that has 512 KB of L2 cache on the chip and a 533 MHz front side bus. (You didn't think the Atom was going to get QuickPath Interconnect any time soon, did you?) The board has two DDR2 memory slots and supports a maximum of 2 GB of capacity and has four SATA disk ports and an on-board RAID 1/5/10 controller and a Gigabit Ethernet port.
The higher-end X7SLA-H Atom-based mobo drops in Intel's dual-core Atom 330 processor, which also runs at 1.6 GHz and which sports 512 KB of L2 cache per core and a 533 MHz front side bus. This more powerful Atom box has two Gigabit Ethernet ports.
Pricing and ship dates for the Atom servers were not available at press time. ®