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SeaMicro Cuts Data Centers’ Power & Space Crises

The new box replaces 60 traditional servers, four top-of-rack switches, four terminal servers and a load balancer

SeaMicro's back. Four months after it pushed out its revolutionary low-power 64-bit Atom server it's filled the provocative empty space in the middle of the thing's five-by-11-inch motherboard to make the dingus denser.

The brand new SM10000-64HD - the start-up suffers from the same unimaginative naming conventions as Intel - stuffs 384 dual-core 1.66GHz Atom chips in a box.

That's 768 64-bit cores worth 1,275GHz in a 10U Made-in-America system, or 3,072 Intel cores in a seven-foot rack.

It calls it simply the "the world's most energy-efficient 64-bit x86 server," consuming all of 3.5kW under typical workloads.

It has improved the compute density of the original SM10000-64 by 150% and increased its industry-leading compute-per-watt metric by 20%.

Despite its density this generation takes less power to run than its older brother through the practice of some arcane black magic.

SeaMicro, which claims breakthroughs in CPU design, virtualization, supercomputing and networking, says it now delivers more compute per-unit power and more compute per-unit space than any x86 system ever built, offering the industry a new solution for the power and space crises that eat up 75% of users' opex.

The new box replaces 60 traditional servers, four top-of-rack switches, four terminal servers and a load balancer while using a quarter of the power and a sixth the space at a quarter the weight without any changes to x86 software.

The company calculates it can save $3.3 million-$27.4 million in power and real estate and reduce TCO by more than 80%.

The SM10000-64HD, like its forerunner the SM10000-64, is based on the N570 Atom chip that Intel built especially for SeaMicro.

Intel, in turn, is gleefully surprised to be a few steps ahead of ARM, which spooks the...well, worries it. And, while the Atom ain't the pricey high-margin Xeon, according to CEO Andrew Feldman, SeaMicro's many-Atom box gives Intel its highest profit solution in a rack.

Intel calls it simply "an amazing accomplishment."

The N570 supports four gigs of operating system addressable memory per socket and is the first low-power Atom to support virtualization. Each dual-core N570 also supports four threads and is said to deliver the industry's best performance per-watt for Internet workloads. When used on a SeaMicro motherboard in conjunction with SeaMicro power management technology the N570 uses, at peak utilization, less than one watt for each gigahertz of compute.

SeaMicro's architecture simplifies data center operations and management by eliminating layers of Ethernet switches, server management devices and expensive load balancers. It's plug and play - customers can deploy it without modifying existing operating systems, application software or management tools.

It accommodates 1,536 terabytes of DDR3 DRAM, up to 64 SATA solid state or hard disk drives and eight-64 one gigabit Ethernet uplinks.

SeaMicro's scale-out systems are optimized for the 64-bit Web 2.0 and cloud data centers that are spreading everywhere. They are also being used by telcos, the US government and big enterprises.

The four-month-old SM10000-64 passed a million hours in production the week before last, Feldman said.

Available now, the SM10000-64HD starts at $237,000.

SeaMicro, which is backed to the tune of $60 million from Khosla Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Crosslink Capital and four mystery strategic investors plus $9.3 million in Energy Department grant money, expects to be profitable by this time next year.

Sales have been doubling quarter-on-quarter with customers on five continents and SeaMicro thinks it could qualify as the fastest-growing systems company in the history of Silicon Valley.

Customers include France Telecom, Skype, Mozilla, eHarmony, China Netcom BB and a lot of other unmentionables. Although it complains that servers cost more to power than to buy, Google is still too not-invented-here to give it a toss.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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