June 21, 2010
Saw some interesting news today in an article by Katie Fehrenbacher on the earth2tech.com site, “5 Green Data Center Startups You Need To Know”. What caught my eye was the excerpt on a company by the name of SeaMicro™. They seem to be the first commercially available server solution utilizing low-cost, low-power, high volume CPUs, for server farm and cloud computing applications. The SM10000 product takes density to a new level with support for 512 Intel Atom® low power processors in a 10U package. WOW! That’s a lot of processors. That’s over 2000 processors in a full rack! The SeaMicro website suggests that this product was designed to replace 40 1 RU dual-socket servers which typically take a full rack but require only 2KW, which they suggest uses 1/4 the power and takes 1/4 the space.
When we talk at trade shows and user groups, we often cite that it’s not all about processors but rather the efficiency of the servers, e.g. how much output or workload do you get per unit input or watt. And I often bring up the analogy of miles per gallon and having hybrid cars in your data center or SUV’s in your data center. Both get you from point A to point B but one does it in a much more efficient way. Since there is a huge cost to leave servers idle, a data center operator’s goal should be to get more utilization of their servers and introduce virtualization or if I use the car analogy, pack more passengers into the car to get from point A to point B. We also regularly reference spec.org’s spec power benchmarks, to attempt to get a baseline or common way to understand server efficiency by make/model/configuration. As I was searching the site, I found that a 1U, dual-socket, 6 core per socket PowerEdge R610 system from Dell can provide 2938 server-side java operations per watt. I wonder what the SeaMicro system can do? Kudos to the SeaMicro team for thinking outside the box, or in this case, in a new 10U box. Look forward to seeing some cost and performance benchmarking information to compare against what already exists in the industry.