Intel fights back with low power processors

Intel announced this morning the newest members of it low power processor Atom family, the S1200 series. They’re dual core processors and are available in variants up to 2 Ghz while clocking in under 8.5 watts in power use.

Amazon’s data center efficiency head, James Hamilton, gives a positive spin to the announcement on his blog. Hamilton matters because he’s been a big proponent of low power servers and because he wields influence over which servers Amazon purchases for its massive cloud platform. Critically, Hamilton writes:


“I’m excited by the S1200 announcement because it’s both a good price/performer and power/performer and shows that Intel is serious about the microserver market. This new Atom gives customers access to microserver pricing without having to change instruction set architectures.”


It’s this last sentence about instruction set architectures that folks in the ARM server startup world should taken notice of. If Intel can catch up with a decent low power chip set, that wouldn’t require customers to port or recompile code to ARM architecture, then it could be very competitive. It may not have to be even as low power as ARM servers because there will be other benefits like being able to use all that existing X86 software.

I still believe that ARM servers will find their place in the data center but we all knew that Intel was going to put up a fight.