Richi Jennings

Intel Atom 64-bit server SoC "Centerton" breaks cover

December 12, 2012 6:04 AM EST

Microserver chips with ECC, HT and VT FTW! Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) unveils its latest Atom S1200 system-on-a-chip range, but it's not for netbooks; it's for low-powered microservers. Going as low as 6.1W TDP, the parts run cool and fast (ish).

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers see Intel spoiling for a fight with ARM and AMD.
Intel Atom S1200 SoC
Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

Ted Samson lets down his hair:

The S1200 is clearly groomed for the legions of low-power cloud-computing farms...[for] lightweight, scale-out Web apps that don't require heavy processing...unlike the Intel Xeon line, which is groomed for compute-intensive apps.
The Atom S1200 chips...include two physical cores...with Intel's Hyper-Threading Technology...64-bit...up to 8GB of DDR3 memory...Virtualization Technologies, eight lanes of PCI Express 2.0, Error-Correcting Code support. ...that Intel has managed to crank out a six-watt chip is quite noteworthy. ... In comparison, the thermal design power for Intel's Xeon processors in 2006 was 40 watts. ... Intel's real concern here is likely ARM...which has emerged as a heavy the data center. ...the Cortex A9...has a thermal design point of under 5 watts.  MORE

Timothy Prickett-Morgan adds color:

The Atom S1200 [is] the foundation from which Intel will build a bulwark against the onslaught of ARM-based server processors. ... S1200 is not the first 64-bit servers. SeaMicro...launched its second-generation SM10000-64HD back in July 2011 based on the...N570 processor...but it did not have ECC error scrubbing [nor] VT.
Intel's own rough reckoning of Atom-versus-Xeon pitted the S1200 again a low-volt E3-1200 v2. [An] Atom-based rack [had] 560 nodes. ... A full rack of the Xeon E3 servers would have about 100 nodes...but would offer about two times the throughout.  MORE

And Ryan Smith analyzes in more detail:

Of course ARM’s existing 32bit ARMv7 designs can only go so far. ... ARMv8 will be the ISA that lets them seriously chase [microservers]. But...they must face the 800lb gorilla of the server world: Intel.
the Atom S1200 series is based around Intel’s existing 32nm Saltwell architecture...for the most part very similar to Intel’s existing 32nm Cedarview Atoms. ... The key difference however is that Centerton supports a bevy of server-grade features. ...coupled with the fact that Centerton uses a new socket (FCBGA1283), we believe [it's] a new Atom design rather than just being a server-branded version of Cedarview. ... Centerton is not just a one-off product, but rather the first product in a new range of server CPUs. ... Avoton, Centerton’s successor [is] based on Intel’s 22nm it’s reasonable to assume that Avoton will be Intel’s Silvermont-based processor for servers. ... Intel is also planning a 14nm successor to Avoton in 2014.  MORE

But Charlie Demerjian just rolls his eyes:

If you feel underwhelmed, you are not alone. ...take a current Clovertrail 32nm Atom, blow a few less fuses so not artificially turned it a server part...and you will kick ARM back to the curb, right?
The one interesting bit? Intel admitted to 8-core 22nm Atom...a real Atom for servers, not a hack like Centerton. ... Expect this one to not set the world on fire either, but we didn’t expect it to.  MORE

Meanwhile, Wolfgang Grüner is left speechless at AMD's agressive riposte:

I am wondering if AMD can...maintain credibility when it makes statements that [are] blatantly false? ... It is surprising that AMD would call Intel's micro server processor..."too little, too late," when AMD does not have a comparable processor at this time. ... AMD has bought itself...into the ARM market and will not have commercial ARM 64-bit processors...prior to the end of next year.
AMD is the wrong company to make that accusation, as it has little to show for.  MORE