Two of these boards are placed side-by-side in the chassis and stacked two high, for a total of eight server nodes. Eight nodes at 64 cores each gives you 512 total cores in a 2U chassis. The server boards slide out on individual trays and share two 1,100 watt power supplies that are stacked on top of each other and that are put in the center of the chassis. Each node has three SATA II ports and can have three 2.5-inch drives allocated to it; the chassis holds two dozen drives, mounted in the front and hot pluggable.
Amazing how power efficient Tilera has made it’s shipping products as Quanta has jammed 512 cores into a 2 Rack Unit high box. Roughly this is 20% the size of the SeaMicro SM-10000 based on Intel Atom cpus. Now that there’s a shipping product, I would like to see benchmarks or comparisons made on similar workloads using both sets of hardware. Numerically speaking it will be an apples-to-apples comparison. But each of these products is unique and are going to be difficult to judge in the coming year.
First off, Intel Atom is an x86 compatible low power chip that helped launch the Asus/Acer netbook revolution (which until the iPad killed it was a big deal). However Quanta in order to get higher density on its hardware has chosen a different CPU than the Intel Atom (as used by SeaMicro). Instead Quanta is the primary customer for a new innovated chip company we have covered on carpetbomberz.com previously: Tilera. For those who have not been following the press releases from the company Tilera is a spin-off of an MIT research project in chip-scale networking. The idea was to create very simplified systems on a chip (whole computers scaled down to single chip) and then network them together all the same slice of silicon die. The speeds would be faster due to most of the physical interfaces and buses being contained directly on the chip circuits instead of externally on the computer’s motherboard. The promise of the Tilera chip is you can scaled up on the silicon wafer as opposed to the racks and racks of equipment within the datacenter. Performance of the Tilera chip has been somewhat a secret, no benchmarks or real comparisons to commercially shipping CPUs have been performed. But the feeling generally is any single core within a Tilera chip should be about as capable as the processor in your smartphone, and every bit as power efficient. Tilera has been planning to scale up to 100 cpus eventually within one single processor die and appears to have scaled up to 64 on its most recent research chips (far from being commercially produced at this point.)
I suspect both SeaMicro and Quanta will have their own custom OSes which run as a central supervisor allowing the administrators to install and sets up instances of their favorite workhorse OSes. Each OS instance will be doled out to an available CPU core and then be linked up to a virtual network and virtual storage interface. Boom! You got a web server, file server, rendering station, streaming server, whatever you need in one fell swoop. And it is all bound together with two 1,100 watt power supplies in each 2 Rack Unit sized box. I don’t know how that compares to the SeaMicro power supply, but I imagine it is likely smaller per core than the SM-10000. Which can only mean in the war for data power efficiency Quanta might deliver to market a huge shot across the bow of SeaMicro. All I can say is let the games begin, let the market determine the winner.
- SeaMicro SM10000-64 grabs 256 64-bit Atom CPUs for distinctive server (slashgear.com)
- Tilera gets $45 Million, preps for 225-core SoC (linuxfordevices.com)
- Intel plans Atom server chips to target fast-growing “micro servers” (venturebeat.com)
- Chip upstart Tilera lines up $45m in funding (go.theregister.com)
- Calxeda boasts of 5 watt ARM server node – The Register (carpetbomberz.com)