SeaMicro ups Atom-based server ante: 6 dual core servers in 5 x 11 space

Summary:SeaMicro is launching its second Atom-based server, the SM10000-64-HD, as it ups the ante on power sipping performance.The startup server vendor made a splash with its SM10000, which is powered by dozens of Atom chips from Intel.

SeaMicro is launching its second Atom-based server, the SM10000-64-HD, as it ups the ante on power sipping performance.

The startup server vendor made a splash with its SM10000, which is powered by dozens of Atom chips from Intel. SeaMicro's plan is relatively simple yet difficult to actually pull off: Cut power and save space in the data center.

Andrew Feldman, CEO of SeaMicro, said its latest server packs six dual core servers in a 5 x 11 inch space with 384 sockets and 768 cores per system. The previous version had four dual core servers in a space the size of a credit card.

For SeaMicro the SM10000-64-HD is the second installment on the path to becoming a "full service server company" by the middle of 2012. SeaMicro is also looking to be processor agnostic and will launch ARM servers once credible chips emerge next year. Feldman has built engineering and manufacturing in Santa Clara, Calif. His main beef with the server industry is that it has become focused on costs and supply chain and neglected the engineering.

In the data center the SeaMicro SM10000-64-HD can replace 60 traditional servers with a quarter of the power and weight and one-sixth of the space. Feldman said SeaMicro's expanding customer base on four continents is typically of the Web variety and companies with simple frequent workloads. Named customers include France Telecom, eHarmony, Skype, Mozilla and China Netcom.

"The SM10000-64-HD gives us a chance to win new customers, primarily Web companies," said Feldman. The ROI equation for SeaMicro boxes is clear cut. Companies looking to save on power and space are adopting SeaMicro. Other customers are renting racks and looking to save power. Meanwhile, hosting companies are also buying SeaMicro's wares because the savings can flow to the bottom line. "If you are a managed host company you pay for power and space. These can be margin preservers," said Feldman.

The SM10000-64-HD will run you $239,000 a system compared to its predecessor, which costs $150,000 each.

The larger question is whether and when SeaMicro will get enterprise traction. "The enterprise is closing the gap slowly," said Feldman. "The Web and Internet world are a year or two ahead of the enterprise. Web companies don't have another business to worry about. For a Web provider your costs are engineers, servers, power and space."

Feldman said it's unclear whether SeaMicro will reach the enterprise indirectly via cloud and hosting providers or with partners. "In the short-term we chose not to get a sales force to chase everyone down and will focus on partners," said Feldman.

One thing is clear: SeaMicro's servers will become of interest to enterprises due to the potential of saving $20 million over three years based on the company's total cost of ownership pitch. What's not to like about a lot of horsepower in a package that takes up less space and sips energy?

Topics: Browser, Hardware, Servers

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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