Intel Launches Atom C3000 Servers With Up to 16 Cores, 256GB RAM

Joel Hruska
There was a time, back in 2011 or 2012, when it was common to see people predicting Intel’s chokehold on the server market would be broken by the advent of (relatively) low-cost, high-density CPUs delivered by ARM vendors. Companies like AMD, Applied Micro, and Calxeda all pinned their hopes on ARM, with AMD’s then-CEO Rory Read predicting that we’d see ARM take 15 percent of the market by 2015. In response, Intel respun its Atom products into a line of server hardware meant to plug the gap between its pricing and TDPs that ARM would have otherwise exploited.
Calxeda went bankrupt, Applied Micro was purchased by Macon (a new X-Gene 3 SoC is on the way but hasn’t hit market yet), and AMD launched its Seattle platform but eventually stepped away from ARM. While AMD still did work on its ARMv8 K12 processor, it eventually shelved plans to bring it to market in favor of concentrating on its x86 products. Given the still barely-developed state of the ARM server market, this was likely the right call. And Intel has kept developing its Atom server line, even though the immediate threat from other ARM vendors has more-or-less vanished.
Intel has now announced new C3000 products that are designed to be highly flexible. They’re all based on Intel’s new Goldmont architecture and offer 2-16 cores, 128GB of RAM (or 256GB of ECC), up to 4 10GbE Ethernet adapters, and up to 20 lanes of HSIO (High Speed I/O). Be aware, however, that the way Intel talks about HSIO obfuscates some of its limitations.
The 20 lanes of HSIO connectivity are shown at the bottom of this image. If you count the “x” numbers, however, you’ll note that Intel has defined 36 lanes worth of connectivity with just 20 lanes available. This system gives OEMs more flexibility, since it allows them to decide which features they want to support–and there will have to be some kind of graphics support, because none of the Atom C3000s have an on-die graphics solution. If you assume at least four SATA and four USB ports, there’s just 12 lanes left for other purposes. Then again, this system obviously isn’t intended for gaming or high performance applications; Intel’s list of C3000 hardware shows relatively low clock speeds and modest TDPs. Intel also includes its Quick Assist Technology (QAT) on some chips, to aid their speed in compression and cryptography workloads.
All of the chips support some type of ethernet standard above standard 1GbE, with a few SKUs hitting 2.5GbE. More information and a detailed product breakdown can be found here (PDF). With the Goldmont core (codename Denverton) delivering significant improvements over and above the Silvermont architecture that powered its predecessors, Avoton and Rangeley, Intel should deliver a significant performance improvement in modest (8.5W – 32W) envelope.
Intel Launches Atom C3000 Servers With Up to 16 Cores, 256GB RAM Reviewed by Bizpodia on 18:26 Rating: 5

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