Feeds

Honey, I shrunk the micro server

Virtualisation comes down from the cloud

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

Cloud Virtualisation is all the rage in data centres, but sometimes, you need to" realise" a server. Some companies with modest computing requirements will pay a premium for dedicated server hosting, rather than virtual server slices.

Hosting companies can't rent a standard two-socket Xeon or Opteron server to a customer for €15 per month, which is what French hosting company Online.net wanted to charge small and medium business customers if it could find a small enough box.

Baby steps

So two years ago Online.net contacted Dell's Data Center Solutions and the engineers there cooked up a micro server based on VIA Technologies' dual-core Nano processors and small form-factor motherboard. The micro server concept was born.

In March, Kevin Huiskes, director of cloud computing 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," he said. "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, or for relatively simple Web applications.

"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 such as Hadoop. But if you want to group data together and then do another sort, they don't have enough processor or I/O oomph.

Intel is not generally regarded as a pioneer in micro servers but it introduced a reference design – fitting 16 hot-swappable microserver modules into a 5U rack – along with low-wattage Xeon processors – as early as September 2009.

At the Intel Developer Forum that year Sean Maloney, Intel executive vice-president, introduced the new Xeons, noting that "it wasn't so long ago that people were trying to squeeze 30W into ugly notebooks".

He added that the need for lower-power systems is clear. "Up to 25 per cent of the data centre is going to power," he said.

Fast forward

Here's what the original micro server looked like compared with a disk drive:

Dell VIA Server Compared to Disk

And here they are running in Online.net's data centre:

Dell micro server Online.net

The Nano chip and system board had its limits in terms of performance and the amount of memory that could be attached to it. The micro server, despite some naysayers, continues to evolve and gain some traction in the market.

So much so that Dell has taken its third generation of micro servers mainstream with the PowerEdge C5125.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Next page: Hold the extras

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
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?