Feeds

Intel and server buddies forge micro boxes

Tiny Xeon blade-rack hybrids

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

The Server System Infrastructure forum, which has been trying to establish blade and rack server standards for years, is moving into a new category called micro servers. And Intel is blazing the trail for the tiny form factor, together along partners Dell, Tyan, and Quanta Computer, which make motherboards and systems.

Last week, at the "Day in the Clouds" event that Intel hosted at its Beaverton, Oregon labs and fabs, Jason Waxman talked about a lot of things cloudy, and as he did, he passed around a prototype machine he called a micro server.

As it turns out, the prototype machine that Waxman passed around for all of us to examine is one of a number of machines that will be coming out to support the SSI standard for this new form factor. Waxman didn't want to say much about the new machine, but Kevin Huiskes, director of cloud computing initiatives at Intel, spoke to El Reg about these small footprint servers which borrow ideas from both rack-style and blade form factors.

"Micro servers fit under a pretty broad umbrella," explained Huiskes. "We define it as any server with a large number of nodes, usually with a single socket or multiple low-power processors and shared infrastructure."

The target market for these boxes is the low-end of the dedicated hosting market, where having a physically and electrically distinct machine is sometimes still important to customers. Or it might be for relatively simple Web applications where the workload is light and the I/O requirements are not too intense.

"There's a spectrum of workloads where this type of server works, and others where they will not," says Huiskes. For instance, you could use these baby servers to do basic sorting on big data using an open source program like Hadoop, says Huiskes, but if you want to group data together and then do another sort, they don't have enough processor or I/O oomph.

Here's the basic architecture of a micro server machine, taken from the SSI specification, release 1.0.0:

SSI Micro Server architecture

The SSI Micro Server architecture spec

The specification is, as all SSI standards are, very detailed in terms of the size of components and how they interconnect. Maintaining compatibility is, of course, the whole point of SSI specs. (Even if most of the major server vendors ignore such specs most of the time because they want account control for the boxes they sell.) The micro server includes a single processor socket, a chipset to go with it, a baseboard management controller (BMC), local flash memory for the BIOS and BMC firmware, memory, voltage regulators, and an edge module interconnect where the micro server hooks into the chassis to link out to I/O and to draw power. The current spec has four SATA ports, and the baseboard and backplane connectors have to all draw from the same 12-volt power rails. This means that a chassis supporting one kind of micro server should be able to support another one.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Next page: Two options

More from The Register

next story
Wanna keep your data for 1,000 YEARS? No? Hard luck, HDS wants you to anyway
Combine Blu-ray and M-DISC and you get this monster
US boffins demo 'twisted radio' mux
OAM takes wireless signals to 32 Gbps
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Apple flops out 2FA for iCloud in bid to stop future nude selfie leaks
Millions of 4chan users howl with laughter as Cupertino slams stable door
Students playing with impressive racks? Yes, it's cluster comp time
The most comprehensive coverage the world has ever seen. Ever
Run little spreadsheet, run! IBM's Watson is coming to gobble you up
Big Blue's big super's big appetite for big data in big clouds for big analytics
Seagate's triple-headed Cerberus could SAVE the DISK WORLD
... and possibly bring us even more HAMR time. Yay!
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.