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SeaMicro Unveils 512 Atom-Based Server

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the why-stop-there dept.

Hardware 183

1sockchuck writes "Stealthy startup SeaMicro has unveiled its new low-power server, which incorporates 512 Intel Atom CPUs, a load balancer and interconnection fabric into a 10u server. SeaMicro, which received a $9.3 million government grant from DOE to develop its technology, says its server uses less than 2 kilowatts of energy — suggesting that a single rack with four SeaMicro units and 2,048 CPUs could draw just 8 kilowatts of power. Check out the technical overview, plus additional coverage from Wired, GigaOm and VentureBeat."

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also .. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565258)

512 Atom FP

Disappointed (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566810)

Did anyone else get disappointed when after reading the summary, they found out it wasn't about nano-technology?

Pfft... how about three atoms (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565276)

I'm an ugly bag of mostly water. Water is made up of three atoms. What's the big deal?

Vitual center (5, Funny)

steelcobra (1042808) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565296)

Wow. Just think how many servers you could run in VMWare on that. A hundred would be a decent functional number.

Re:Vitual center (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565614)

You are talking about the Atom here. It is sooooo slowwwwww!

Re:Vitual center (1)

steelcobra (1042808) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565756)

VMWare could handle that. It dynamically assigns resources of the hardware to the the VMs so they are running at maximum efficiency. Unlike with traditional physical servers where the hardware is mostly at idle while the processes take maybe 10% of operating ability, or run up when overtasked and lock up when maxed out.

Re:Vitual center (3, Informative)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565976)

Absolute tosh. You need CPU hardware virtualisation support to do those things you speak of. Those features are no where to be found in the Atom. You will not be running VM's on any Atom based system because they are simply not up to the job. (I speak from experience here)

Re:Vitual center (2, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566716)

Thats funny cause I have a Intel D410 Mobo that runs a couple virtual box instances on top of FreeBSD.

Virtualization of the x86 existed before Intel added special support for it.

Re:Vitual center (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566208)

A VCPU will always max out at the speed of one real core.

SMP will only bring you so far - i'll bet 8 VCPU VMs on Atoms will be beat by a 2 VCPU VM on a Core 2 Duo.

Re:Vitual center (4, Informative)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566670)

SMP will only bring you so far - i'll bet 8 VCPU VMs on Atoms will be beat by a 2 VCPU VM on a Core 2 Duo.

Perhaps not, depending on the other load the system is working on. Because of the way VCPUs are scheduled (at least in VMWare) that 8-vCPU VM won't get a time-slice until such time as there are 8 real cores available for the duration of that slice. If your task is CPU intensive and can be easily separated into distinct tasks not overly chatty (i.e. cross VM latency is not going to be a major issue) and the host has gobs of RAM available, you are often better off having several VMs with one cVPU each than one VM with several vCPUs. This may be much less of a problem on a many-CPU monster like the 512 core unit being discussed than it is on 2/4/8-core boxes, but I expect the balance to still be in favour of multiple single-vCPU VMs in cases where the task can be efficiently split between them.

Re:Vitual center (2, Insightful)

sleeping143 (1523137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566124)

I think the more important element here is the performance/energy consumption ratio. Atoms might be slow, but they're not so slow that their minuscule power consumption can't make up for it.

Re:Vitual center (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565940)

The ATOM doesn't support virtualisation in hardware, so at best, you are limited to one 32bit OS as a guest per core (no 64bit since you need CPU support for virtualisation) - and even then, the performance is so bad that you might as well just not bother. Having tried virtualbox on an Atom330, I can assure you it's really not worth waiting for the guest OS to finish installing....

Re:Vitual center (3, Interesting)

AigariusDebian (721386) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566060)

Actually it is much more interesting to handle each of them as you would handle an individual virtual machine - so you have 512 nice low-powered virtual servers with each of them having a fixed and dedicated processor.

In fact such a load-out would be very useful for hosting companies - you can have a ton of small clients with minimal management or scheduling burden.

What's the "bang for the buck"? (4, Insightful)

TeXMaster (593524) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565354)

The question is, how good is the performance for, say, intensive numerical computations? Is the gigaflop per watt convenient?

Re:What's the "bang for the buck"? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565434)

numerical? these are atoms. its ONLY about i/o with them, not 'cpu'.

anyone expecting cpu speed from something like an atom is nuts. look at your netbook; this will give you a clue what you can expect. i/o is fine but cpu really lags behind.

your server better be i/o bottlenecked if you want something like this.

and as cpu's get faster and lower power, the 'anemic' cpus will not be worth using for servers. this product has a limited lifetime window (imho), if any at all.

Re:What's the "bang for the buck"? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565726)

Fortuna [activoinc.com] is far superior in performance per watt. No Atoms here!

Re:What's the "bang for the buck"? (4, Interesting)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566180)

Almost, but not quite. The things that suck about the atom:

1. double precision. Use a double, and the Atom will grind to a halt.
2. division. Use rcp + mul instead.
3. sqrt. Same as division.
All of those produce unacceptable stalls, and annihilate your performance immediately. So don't use them!

Now, you'd imagine those are insurmountable, but you'd be wrong. If you use the Intel compiler, restrict yourself to float or int based SSE instuctions only, avoid the list of things that kill performance, and make extreme use of OpenMP, they really can start punching above their weight. Sure they'll never come close to an i7, but they aren't *that* bad if you tune your code carefully. Infact, the biggest problem I've found with my Atom330 system is not the CPU itself, but good old fashioned memory bandwidth. The memory bandwidth appears to be about half that of Core2 (which makes sense since it doesn't support dual channel memory), and for most people that will cripple the performance long before the CPU runs out of grunt.

The biggest problem with them right now is that they are so different architecturally from any other x86/x64 CPU that all apps need to be re-compiled with relevant compiler switches for them. Code optimised for a Core2 or i7 performs terribly on the atom.

Re:What's the "bang for the buck"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565474)

The real question is, can it play doom?

Re:What's the "bang for the buck"? (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565534)

Mmmm I think it can barely play PacMan [google.com] ...

Re:What's the "bang for the buck"? (4, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565486)

The FLOPS are not all that important for this device. It isn't designed to crunch big numbers. It is designed as a web|web application server with the goal of serving far more connections per watt than a traditional server.

Re:What's the "bang for the buck"? (3, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565618)

But traditional web servers aren't CPU bound, they're IO bound at high connection rates. It might help if you need to do a whole lot of https traffic, but even then this smells of overkill. If you're really planning to use this as a webserver, I'd be a whole lot more interested in the IO backplane and the available IO ports to the server.

System Specs (4, Informative)

dlapine (131282) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565954)

This is a good start- SM10000 System Overview [seamicro.com]

Interconnect is 1.28 Tbps or 2.5 Gbps per core.

I/O includes a minimum or 8 gige or 2 10-gige, which can be increased to 64 gige or 16 10-gige links per chassis.

This unit runs as 512 system images using stock 32 bit OS's. Each CPU may have 1 or 2 GB's of ram and up to 64 local drives may be installed and divided among the CPU's with the included management software. The unit supports PXE boot, so the system images may run off local disk or from a ram image.

Just to note, the Atom z530 is a single core, 32 bit only CPU, if that matters.

I couldn't tell you if the 16 10-gige links would seriously limit this box or not. You'd have to show me a data center with more than 160 Gbps of internet connectivity first. :) And that's assuming you only purchased one of these suckers, because you'd need that much per chassis.

Re:What's the "bang for the buck"? (1)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566336)

If that's the case, Atom is a horrible choice for the CPU. Atom's strongest feature is its 128-bit vector (SSE) unit for SIMD FLOPS.

The in-order (albeit SMT-enabled), 2-issue integer/LDST/Conditional pipeline is lackluster at best from either a performance or a performance/watt standpoint.

Re:What's the "bang for the buck"? (1)

boneclinkz (1284458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565564)

The question is, how good is the performance for, say, intensive numerical computations? Is the gigaflop per watt convenient?

How many quarter-hours would it take to, say, convert all the electronic documents in the Library of Congress to .pdf? That's my question.

Re:What's the "bang for the buck"? (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565700)

Depends on your storage medium. A hogshead'sfull of class-6 SD cards will be nice and zippy. If your enterprise data pedlar stiffs you with a bunch of class-2s, it'll take a lot longer.

Re:What's the "bang for the buck"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565718)

Converting documents to pdf would probably be a good task for it. All that io transfer kills the electronic conversion process. Well, the io kills the conversions, and so does the crappy conversion code (like lotus notes or ms exchange server, which is what so many business files are clumped into.)

Re:What's the "bang for the buck"? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565852)

From the (Wired) article:

Based on its measurements, an Atom chip can deliver half the performance of a Xeon processor for a sixth of the power, says SeaMicro.

A lot of this depends on what aspect of "performance" an Atom can do half the work as a Xeon for 1/6 the power. Continuing on in the same article:

SeaMicro’s Atom-based servers, though, are not for everyone. They are geared for a very specific kind of server operation–one that involves throwing out a lot of web content, says Braunstein.

So I'd say your answer is "no, no it isn't." Because that's not the kind of server this system appears to be designed for.

If you run a web server that has to retrieve a lot of stuff and render it onto web pages, you are part of this project's target market, and it may someday have a place in your server closet. If you want a massive number crunching superbeast, you probably aren't going to be happy with a beowulf cluster of Atom processors. It's just not built to do that very well.

Oblig. car analogy:

My 50MPG Diesel Jetta is very good at efficiency when hauling people or very small loads, but can't haul large loads or plow my driveway. That's what my 15MPG 8-cylinder pickup truck is for.

If I needed to haul 32 people safely, 4 of my Diesel cars would be an excellent option, as compared to the 16 trucks I'd need.

If I needed to plow my driveway or haul 1/2 ton of gravel, one truck is far more efficient than any number of Diesel cars.

The truck is a Xeon - it handles large nonspecific loads very well and is very flexible in the types of tasks it can perform, but it drinks fuel like a thirsty dog. If I used it to drive to work every day (30-mile round trip, 5 times a week), fuel for that drive would cost me more than my entire Jetta does, including fuel, maintenance, depreciation, taxes, etc.

The car is an Atom. It handles specific types of loads very efficiently, and uses far less fuel, because that's what it's purpose-built to do.

Re:What's the "bang for the buck"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566012)

The question is, how good is the performance for, say, intensive numerical computations?

That isn't the question at all. Direct that question to Opteron or POWER vendors. This hardware will never be chosen to do intensive numerical work by anyone sane. Not sure how you missed that; these are Intel Atom CPUs.

Is the gigaflop per watt convenient?

It's completely meaningless. Try TCP connections per watt or emails per watt. This hardware is intended to spend its time managing large numbers of simple tasks. No one competent will be doing FEA with this hardware so no one is interested in the FLOPS.

Re:What's the "bang for the buck"? (1)

deadline (14171) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566598)

Here are some numbers from a post [slashdot.org] I made last week.

Re:What's the "bang for the buck"? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566756)

Why exactly would you be doing real processing on a virtual machine?

If you need real processing power you don't put it on a VM, thats just dumb and wasteful.

Virtual machines are for testing and silly little one off instances of something that some department 'needed' on a 'server' that gets used by 3 people, twice a year, and thats only until next month when they've forgot about it completely.

Am I the only one who.... (4, Funny)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565378)

...misread the headline as saying that somebody had made a server out of only 512 atoms (as in the particle, not the cpu)?

Re:Am I the only one who.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565430)

Yep.

Re:Am I the only one who.... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565448)

I am with you on that one, and for a second I thought that we were going to be reading about some kind of technological revolution.

Re:Am I the only one who.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565586)

I was very disappointed to read a slashvertisement instead of something cool like that :(

Re:Am I the only one who.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565748)

You dummy, it clearly says it is atom based. The thing is made out of atoms, but it does not say how many atoms for each processor. Jeez, does anybody around here read above a fifth grade level?

Re:Am I the only one who.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565872)

In that case it should read "SeaMicro Unveils 512 Atom-Based Servers".

Re:Am I the only one who.... (1)

slinches (1540051) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565998)

it clearly says it is atom based. The thing is made out of atoms, but it does not say how many atoms for each processor.

So what element is atomic number 512? I thought they only went up to around 118.

Re:Am I the only one who.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566552)

no, this one goes to 512.

Re:Am I the only one who.... (1)

fishtorte (1117491) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565844)

No.

Re:Am I the only one who.... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566052)

I want my server out of 512 actual atoms! *waaaahhhh*

P.S.: I bet a ARM-based server would beat the crap out of that (TFA) thing on the price/performance and price/energy scales

Re:Am I the only one who.... (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566464)

When I first read the headline I thought "Wow--someone's just commercialized quantum computing!"

Re:Am I the only one who.... (1)

Opyros (1153335) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566662)

And 512 atoms ought to be enough for anyone—

Is Mr CmdrTaco high today? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565400)

Before it was Fifth Grade Kindergardeners, now it's Atom/Molecule sized Intel Atom processors? :smoketheweed:

That would sure save rack space... (1)

drenehtsral (29789) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565414)

Imagine how may of these servers you could fit in the space of even a single grain of rice, let alone a standard 1U enclosure!

2 Kilowatts of "energy"? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565418)

OK, OK. At least $EDITOR gets it right at the second attempt (8 kW of power).

Imagine a beowulf cluster of... (4, Funny)

Chas (5144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565426)

Oh, wait. Nevermind.

Re:Imagine a beowulf cluster of... (2, Insightful)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565460)

It would seem that the 'beowulf cluster' is starting to fall out of style, doesn't it? :P We're getting to the point where such concepts are as quaint as a "Cray supercomputer" were just a couple years ago.

Re:Imagine a beowulf cluster of... (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565592)

Clusters are still very much alive. They're cheap to build and give you a lot of computing power to play with. If anyone mentions Beowulf when describing them, however, it's a good clue that they have no idea what they are talking about.

Re:Imagine a beowulf cluster of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565638)

Yes, quite quaint. [top500.org]

Re:Imagine a beowulf cluster of... (1)

AigariusDebian (721386) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565964)

More like imagine a cloud of those ;)

For their next trick (5, Funny)

polaris20 (893532) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565476)

They're going to power a Ferrari out of 34.5 Vespa scooter engines.

Duke Nukem (1)

zamfield (1346305) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565478)

Yes, but can it play Duke Nukem?

Re:Duke Nukem (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565516)

No. Only Windows Server DataCenter editions support this number of CPU's.. they don't include DirectX in DataCenter edition. In fact, only "signed hardware" will install. So getting you fancy video card, or Soundblaster 64 to work on it would be impossible.

Re:Duke Nukem (1, Offtopic)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565576)

No. Only Windows Server DataCenter editions support this number of CPU's.. they don't include DirectX in DataCenter edition. In fact, only "signed hardware" will install. So getting you fancy video card, or Soundblaster 64 to work on it would be impossible.

I am pretty sure that that is only true if you are limiting yourself to Microsoft operating systems. There are plenty of linux BSD and unix OS's that can handle huge numbers of processors.

Re:Duke Nukem (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565800)

Well, I figured if they were asking about Duke Nukem, their technology savvy would be limited. Of course many OS's could run on it, although process scheduling would be interesting to see..

I was attempting to give a smart ass answer, to a smart ass question.

PS, yes, I can imagine a Beowulf cluster of these. In fact, I think that's kind of the point...

What does a normal rack consume? (3, Interesting)

Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565500)

I don't know if 8 kW is a lot or a little less than a normal rack would draw. The article doesn't say...how much power would a "normal" rack consume? Isn't there a measure of computing power vs power used?

Re:What does a normal rack consume? (3, Informative)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565694)

A typical 1 U server (2 processor 4 cores each) can consume between 300 and 500 watts. So 42 of them (the number in a rack) would give 336 cores at between 12kw and 21kw. As a rough number for reasonable performance servers, 300 to 500 watts per U is about what you'll find. Sure, you can find more powerful and less powerful servers, but that's a decent figure...

Re:What does a normal rack consume? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565828)

A typical 1 U server (2 processor 4 cores each) can consume between 300 and 500 watts. So 42 of them (the number in a rack) would give 336 cores at between 12kw and 21kw. As a rough number for reasonable performance servers, 300 to 500 watts per U is about what you'll find. Sure, you can find more powerful and less powerful servers, but that's a decent figure...

So, since this is an 8U at 8000W, it consumes rather a lot MORE power than 8 1U machines. At least twice as much if going with 500W.

So, not counting the potential cooling problems, to be competitive in performance-per-watts, it would have to provide more than the power of 16 1U dual-quad-core machines, or 128 Xeon cores.
Of that, I have my doubts.

Re:What does a normal rack consume? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565950)

A typical 1 U server (2 processor 4 cores each) can consume between 300 and 500 watts. So 42 of them (the number in a rack) would give 336 cores at between 12kw and 21kw. As a rough number for reasonable performance servers, 300 to 500 watts per U is about what you'll find. Sure, you can find more powerful and less powerful servers, but that's a decent figure...

So, since this is an 8U at 8000W, it consumes rather a lot MORE power than 8 1U machines. At least twice as much if going with 500W.

So, not counting the potential cooling problems, to be competitive in performance-per-watts, it would have to provide more than the power of 16 1U dual-quad-core machines, or 128 Xeon cores.
Of that, I have my doubts.

Eh, fail. It's 8000W for all 42U (presuming you put 4 2000W chassis in there).

And as an aside to the first number thrown out (300 to 500w/u) that's a little high since most servers with a 500w nameplate will, at full load, only run in the 350-400w range, and that's atypical since most servers don't spend much time at 100% usage except in rare, specific applications. Building for 20KW/rack (or beyond) is on the high end right now, with most data centers still OK with 5-10KW/rack.

Re:What does a normal rack consume? (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565960)

This is 10 U at 8kw. But, it has 512 processor cores at that power usage. That's 15.6 Watts / Core. Whereas a Xeon (quad core) would be 37.5 Watts / Core (for 300 Watt, for 500 Watt it would be 62 Watts / Core). Now, you also have to look at performance / core. The Xeon will be FAR better at number crunching, but the Atom should fare pretty well at IO operations (as long as they are not memory intensive). So if you're using it as a Reverse Proxy or a large load balancer (Or another highly parallelizable IO bound task), it might actually come out ahead of the Xeon in operations / watt (Possibly significantly depending on the interconnect fabric's bandwidth)...

Re:What does a normal rack consume? (1)

jlmale0 (1087135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566086)

I believe the 8kw was the stat for a rack (42U with 4 of these units). The stat for a single 10U box was 2kw.

Re:What does a normal rack consume? (2, Interesting)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566272)

Whoops! Good point. So that brings our total down to about 4 Watts per core for the Atom... Even further strengthens the point. Thanks!

Re:What does a normal rack consume? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566186)

This is 10 U at 8kw.

Wrong.

From TFS: "server uses less than 2 kilowatts of energy — suggesting that a single rack with four SeaMicro units and 2,048 CPUs could draw just 8 kilowatts of power"

So single box uses 2KW, whole rack uses 8.

Re:What does a normal rack consume? (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565696)

and please express it 'Burning Libraries Of Congresses' units of power for comparison purposes.

Re:What does a normal rack consume? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565762)

It depends pretty substantially on what the rack is full of. You basic "small shop" rack, lazilly part-filled with 2U boxes of no particular compute density, along with a tape drive, a KVM, maybe a switch or two, is pulling well under 8kW.

72Us of fully loaded blade chassis, fully kittted out, might draw as much as the rack above, just spinning its cooling fans...

Re:What does a normal rack consume? (4, Interesting)

geekboybt (866398) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565786)

That's not too hard to calculate. I usually budget 2 A for a dual-CPU 1u server. At 120 V, that's 240 W. 8 kW divided by 240 W = 33u of servers. Multiplied by 12 cores (allowing for the new X5600 series, ignoring hyperthreading on both Atom and Xeon), you get 396 total cores of standard Xeon in 8 kW. Meanwhile, they're advertising 2048 Atom cores in the same amount of power. So, the real question becomes how powerful ~5 Atom cores are compared to 1 Xeon core.

Re:What does a normal rack consume? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565974)

I don't know if 8 kW is a lot or a little less than a normal rack would draw.

how much power would a "normal" rack consume?

Well, just as a first guess, knowing nothing about computers, you could have estimated that you can wedge several floor mounted electrical baseboard heaters into the physical space of a rack, and the servers would (probably) be running 24x7 unlike the baseboard heaters. Keeping those baseboard heaters ventilated and air conditioned is going to be moderately challenging, but doable given a reasonable budget.

So, knowing that its marketed as a "savings" so 8 kw is going to be less than average and that an order of magnitude or so more than a stack of baseboard heaters would be impossible to ventilate and air condition without exotic water cooling or something, you pretty much know that the power savings is large enough to interest a bean counter, but is not any exciting science or thermodynamic engineering breakthrough, so a typical rack could run as much as, lets say, 15 KW.

Any you could check your work by stacking desktop "250 watt" computers into a rack shaped pile, and estimating the rack would be denser, maybe three times denser. So, maybe a tower/pile of 25 desktops would be about the right size, and would draw about six KW, then a rack would be about three times denser, maybe 18 KW, yeah 15KW is about right.

You could also think about power cable management. Lets say we use a rack about 8 feet tall and power strips a bit shorter than a foot each, each strip fed by 15 amps at 110 volts. (The other side of the rack is for ethernet, etc). That sounds buildable. Actually you'd probably wire it a bit different if you could, I'm just saying this would work even if its not ideal. That would be 8 circuits at 15 amps at 110 volts or about 13 KW. Yeah 15 KW is about right.

Yes you could do weird things with 440 three phase. But I'm just talking about "normal" stacks of off the shelf small business 1U Dell servers.

Re:What does a normal rack consume? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566066)

8kW for a normal rack is a LOT!
The ones I know consume one bra, a bag of bird seed, and one to two men a week. ;)

Operating system not mentioned? (2, Insightful)

dragisha (788) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565512)

Or it's only me who can't find it?

"No changes to software" or something like that.... And only tons of RFC* and "funny acronyms"... What software needs no change?

Re:Operating system not mentioned? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565698)

I couldn't find the phrase "no changes to software" in TFA (no mention even of "software" in fact), but I'm guessing it would mean that since it is still an x86 based system that you can achieve power saving benefits while using any current x86 OSes, rather than say have to rewrite/recompile stuff to run on ARM processors.

Re:Operating system not mentioned? (1)

dragisha (788) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566034)

Try SeaMicro site...

How do you think "any x86 OS" can fit in custom architecture multicore system? You just put Your windows HDD into it? :)

Re:Operating system not mentioned? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566380)

Well, I guess I was more thinking of Linux distributions and software that are already designed for massively multicore systems, but on top of that OS you could run many Windows x86 virtual servers..

Low power, really? (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565546)

In all of the benchmarks that I've seen, clock for clock a Core 2 gets about twice the score of an Atom, sometimes more. The Core 2 uses a bit more than twice as much power, but if you have two Atoms you also need twice as many north-bridge chips and this pushes the power usage up to over what the Core 2 will consume. The newer Xeons do even better.

The first benchmark results I found that compared the two were PassMark benchmarks, where a 2GHz Atom scored 386 and a Intel Xeon X5680 at 3.33GHz scored 10620. The fastest Atom, the D510 at 1.66GHz, scored 662. Even if your code scales linearly, you need more than 16 of the fastest Atom that you can buy to replace one Xeon. Or, to put it another way, this 512-Atom machine is about as powerful as a 32-CPU Xeon.

A single Atom D520 draws around 13W, so 16 of them draw 208W. The Xeon will draw 130W. Drawing under 2KW for 512 Atoms means that they probably aren't using the fastest available ones. Actually, it means that they're drawing under 4W per Atom, which means that they're probably using Z-series Atoms, getting about half the performance of the D-series ones, so you'd only need about 16 Xeons for the same performance.

For most workloads, if the server is not busy, you'll get much better power usage from the Xeon as well. Power usage drops off dramatically when the CPU is not 100% busy. Unless you are turning individual atoms off completely, you can't scale back power usage nearly as well with the Atoms, as single processes that would not be CPU-bound on the Xeon will require an Atom core to run at full speed.

In other words, it sounds a lot more like greenwashing than anything that's actually sensible.

Re:Low power, really? (5, Informative)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565674)

Considering how many articles were linked I don't know if you rtfa'd or not.

The Core 2 uses a bit more than twice as much power, but if you have two Atoms you also need twice as many north-bridge chips and this pushes the power usage up to over what the Core 2 will consume.

This is from the wired article.

Just changing the CPU to a low power chip, though, isn't enough says SeaMicro. The trick lies in creating a new architecture that can pull all the chips together and manage their power requirements.

"If you just replace the chips in a traditional server with Atom processors, the power consumption actually goes up," says Feldman.

Integrating features such as storage, networking and server management into a single ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) helps manage power better, says the company. It has also virtualized the CPU input-output so those modules that would have otherwise occupied space on a board and consumed power don't anymore.

Re:Low power, really? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566506)

Which doesn't address my point at all. Great if they can reduce the number of support chips per CPU, but if you do that and reduce the number of CPUs as well then you'll save more power than if you pick the least powerful CPU possible.

Re:Low power, really? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565720)

Reading comprehension is tech, man.

They state in several of the linked articles that the whole reason this thing saves power & space is they've developed technology that allows them to have 90% fewer components per CPU than a traditional server motherboard.

Re:Low power, really? (1)

nis (81721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565856)

Isn't the point of this also that these have significantly more IO and Memory bandwidth for the same amount of power consumed? For applications that are more IO and memory bound than CPU bound (web serving, map-reduce) these things will be far more efficient overall. For a CPU bound algorithm this probably wouldn't really be the best solution.

That being said, traditional databases are IO bound, but they work better on faster independent machines with a lot of cores and a single backplane, but this technology may be better for some of the new generation of "noSQL" databases that are designed for "horizontal scalability."

Re:Low power, really? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565900)

For performance I would wonder how this would have worked with say Cortex A9 cores instead of Atom D520s.
Also you really might have done even better with Opterons.

So I must ask why this over Operons, Xeons, or Arm?

Re:Low power, really? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565970)

According to the wired article they use a custom chip set.
From the article
“If you just replace the chips in a traditional server with Atom processors, the power consumption actually goes up,” says Feldman.

Integrating features such as storage, networking and server management into a single ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) helps manage power better, says the company. It has also virtualized the CPU input-output so those modules that would have otherwise occupied space on a board and consumed power don’t anymore.

Read More http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/06/seamicro-server-intel-atom/#ixzz0qqLKrZZH [wired.com]
"
So this may be a bit more interesting than it first looked.

Re:Low power, really? (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566222)

In other words, it sounds a lot more like greenwashing than anything that's actually sensible.

If it is basic web server or file server, bottleneck is in disk IO and not in CPU.

Other options (in 10U, 240 opteron cores can fit) (2, Informative)

IYagami (136831) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565562)

SeaMicro: 512 Atom processors in 10U rack
Dell PowerEdge R815: 4 Opteron processors, each one up to 12 cores, in 2U rack. In a 10U you can include 5 of these servers, which will bring 4 x 12 x 5 = 240 Opteron cores

More info here [dell.com]

Re:Other options (in 10U, 240 opteron cores can fi (1)

jlmale0 (1087135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565958)

The point isn't so focused on how many processors you can fit in that space, it's power consumption.

The link you provide details 2 1100W PSUs. That's in 2U. The summary quotes just under 2000W for one 10U server. Just looking at that, you're running at 1/5th the power consumption.

Re:Other options (in 10U, 240 opteron cores can fi (1, Troll)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566182)

No it isn’t. Because as a poster above mentioned, and as we all should know by now, Atom is a power consumption scam and is designed as one.
When you look at an Atom mainboard, what you think is the CPU, because of the cooler, is the north bridge. And what you think is the north bridge, because of its smallness, is the Atom CPU.
They simply shifted features to the north bridge, so they could trick you into believing the whole system would be more efficient, by giving you small consumption numbers for the CPU.
The joke is, that even those numbers are still about 5 times that of a equivalent ARM CPU. Which does not need the large NB.

So the point here is eyewash, and to sell you a delusion.
But I did not expect better from the convicted criminal that Intel is. (Look up the lawsuits yourself, in case you lived in a cave and missed the /. articles. [Especially the ones around anticompetitive behavior. Specifically against AMD when the Athlon came out. I personally suffered from this.])

Re:Other options (in 10U, 240 opteron cores can fi (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566460)

It's only a scam if you make outrageous claims that it can be used for everything, like building an efficient supercomputer. The Atom has a good purpose and that is low power CPU with some good capabilities you will need for (HD) media that will still allow your netbook to run for 10 hours (i've seen them actually work over 8 with WiFi and normal workload). The only other netbook option i've seen that can also do this is some underpowered Pentium M version... but I doubt that it can decode HD smoothly despite it's north- *and* south bridge, remember this optimization comes slow, and the Atom already is a big leap forward in lower power CPUs for regular use.
I've just ordered a little PC for downloading and some media playback with a total power use of 20Watt (that's including the ION chipset), which is still able to play HD media... that's exactly what the Atom is good for, but not even close to optimal for servers or really low power computers.

Re:Other options (in 10U, 240 opteron cores can fi (3, Informative)

washu_k (1628007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566650)

I've seen this posted before in other Atom stories and it's 100% BS. The Atom is a full CPU, they did not shift any features into the northbridge as you claim. The 945 chip often used on Atom motherboards has been around for a while, and was used in systems before the Atom even existed. The 945 is just not very power efficient so that's why it needs more cooling than the CPU.

The Atom can be paired with other northbridge chips, notably Nvidia's ION. If part of the CPU was in the 945 chip as you claim this would be impossible.

Atom vs GPGPU? (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565708)

I think the main point here is trying to make a server that can do many non-intensive parallel computations. But then when I look at a GPGPU (such as the Tesla c2050), you can get the same type of performance using a 2kW server in 3U (which I have here). The Atom is ~3GFLOPS per processor making this cluster ~1500GFLOPS strong. A single C2050 has ~500GFLOPS and you can load 4 of them in a single server. nVidia's S2050 has that performance in a single U.

Re:Atom vs GPGPU? (1)

AigariusDebian (721386) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566024)

Except that you have to rewrite you application completely to be able to use the GPGPU. And it will be impossible for most applications.

Re:Atom vs GPGPU? (1)

mobets (101759) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566482)

Why measure performance in FLOPS? I would expect floating point operations to be a pretty small percentage of processor load for this product's target market.

Who else expected... (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565794)

following the recent single-atom transistor development, an actual simple CPU that is built from 512 atoms of various elements?

uh-huh (1)

fishtorte (1117491) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565830)

Let me know when someone really does build a server with 512 atoms.

Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32565850)

How can they make a computer out of 512 atoms?

Imageine a Beowulf cluster.. (1)

codeboost (603798) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565854)

There must be someone to mention the Beowulf cluster of these !
So here, I've mentioned it :)

Re:Imageine a Beowulf cluster.. (1)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 4 years ago | (#32565912)

1999 called and wants its meme back.

Re:Imageine a Beowulf cluster.. (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566210)

The 512 core Atom server has been working at 100% load revoking meme rights since 1999. Analysts say that the job wont be finished until 2073.

Hexagonal venting grills (1)

Henriok (6762) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566112)

A ad off topic I know but I need to know. What's the deal about all these hexagonal, honeycomb like venting grills that I first saw appear on IBM gear many years ago but now seems to be ubiquitous to server gear from all vendors. Is there some cool scientific reason behind it? Is it about maximizing airflow, creating nice vortexes inside the machine to spread the air, reduce noise, reduce vibrations in the chassis, weight concerns, heat spreading.. what's the deal?

Re:Hexagonal venting grills (1)

Thundersnatch (671481) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566198)

They look cooler than little round holes or slits, and probably use a little less metal, meaning more can be recycled after stamping.

Re:Hexagonal venting grills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566614)

Hexagons are the shape of honeycombs in a bee hive. The shape was 'chosen' because it gives the maximum amount of storage in the given space with a minimum of wax.

Following this logic, hexagonal vents should give the maximum amount of gap for air to flow in with the minimum of space blocked by the metal grating.

Re:Hexagonal venting grills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566770)

> The shape was 'chosen' because it gives the maximum amount of storage in the given space with a minimum of wax.

Citation please, I don't believe you.

Re:Hexagonal venting grills (1)

badran (973386) | more than 4 years ago | (#32566820)

Less material needed to produce a sturdier structure.

Can it play... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32566550)

Crysis?

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