There's been a rash of news in the past few months about ARM-based processors aimed either partly or directly at servers. Just this past January, Nvidia unveiled Project Denver. A few days ago, Calxeda detailed its first design. One key target of ARM-based processors seems to be an emerging niche called micro servers: multiple one-socket servers sharing infrastructure to achieve high density and power efficiency. This week, Intel outlined its own plans for the micro server segment... but as you might expect, they don't involve ARM.
Over the next four to five years, Intel expects micro servers to make up less than 10% of the entire server market—a small portion, but still one worthy of attention. To fill this segment, Intel plans to use both its Sandy Bridge and Atom designs. This year, we'll see three Sandy Bridge-based offerings debut: the 45W Xeon E3-1260L and 20W Xeon E3-1220L, both of which are already in production, as well as an unnamed 15W part scheduled for the second half of 2011.
Next year, Intel will round out this lineup with a sub-10W Atom processor specifically tuned for servers. This model will feature 64-bit compatibility, hardware virtualization capabilities, and ECC memory support. Intel doesn't delve into more specifics, but considering the time frame, this server-oriented offering might be based on the upcoming 32-nm Cedar View version of Atom due later this year.