Intel Drops Low Power 'Centerton' Atom Bomb on Micro Server Market

Just last month, Intel made it crystal clear that it was never in the running to acquire SeaMicro, a server startup that was ultimately snatched up by rival chip maker AMD for a cool $334 million. Intel's Chief Information Officer (CIO), Diane Bryant, basically said that no one at Intel was particularly impressed with SeaMicro's technology, at least not enough to warrant a buyout, so the Santa Clara chip maker skipped the SeaMicro sweepstakes. However, don't mistake Intel's disinterest in SeaMicro as a cavalier attitude toward the micro server market in general. On the contrary, Intel is ready to make a run at that very segment with a low-cost, sub-10-watt micro server platform known as Centerton, the chip maker announced at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Beijing.

Intel isn't coming out and saying that Centerton is in response to AMD's SeaMicro acquisition, but according to VentureBeat, it's not all that hard to connect the dots. The way Intel figures it, micro servers could account for 10 percent of all servers within the next three years, and the chip maker isn't about to let AMD steal the show.

Centerton is a system-on-chip (SoC) Atom derivative with a power envelope of just 6 watts. That's not quite on the level of Medfield, Intel's Atom part for smartphone and tablet applications, but it's still extremely power efficient, especially compared to Intel's current server chips, which consume anywhere from 15 watts to 45 watts. Centerton, which is slated to ship in the second half of this year, will have two 32nm processing cores, use error correction code (ECC) memory, support 64-bit code, and feature Intel Virtualization Technology.