Intel says it won't push Atom processors for servers

Intel will not push its Atom processor in the server market, according to a company executive, even though many vendors are using Atoms to power low-power servers.

“We are not opposed to an Atom based server, but we just don’t see broad adoption of the Atom as a server chip,” said Kirk Skaugen, vice-president and general manager of the Data Centre Group at Intel. He said that Intel won’t be pushing for sales of the processor in this area.

That’s not putting off a number of vendors who consider the Atom chips perfect for servers. Server firm SeaMicro showcased an Atom-based server at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco earlier this month. It utilised 512 Atom processsors with Ethernet switching, server management and application load-balancing, revealing the potential behind the Atom for servers.

However, Skaugen believes that the SeaMicro server, along with other low-power servers that utilise rival ARM processors, will only appeal to an extremely small niche market, an area that is not worth the marketing investment to garner sufficient sales.

He said that people want energy-efficient servers that deliver great performance, which he said that Atom processor is not designed to do. He said that the Xeon line of processors is more suited to this goal.

He added that the new Sandy Bridge microarchitecture demonstrated at IDF this year is also the way forward, with eight multi-threaded cores. He commented that a two-socket system with 32 threads is much “cooler” than using 32 single-core Atom chips.

He also took the time to give a little dig at ARM, saying that its processors gave servers a disadvantage because they are not compatible with software written for the x86 architecture.