The latest server setup by Dell doesn’t make use of a gargantuan Xeon powerhouse or anything even close to the category – it uses a netbook processor.
The new XS11-VX8 (codenamed Fortuna) is about 3.5 inches long and houses a VIA Nano U2250 netbook CPU.
The netbook chip is backed to 3 GB of RAM, and can be partnered to a 2.5-inch SSD or HDD. There’s an SD card slot as will and two Ethernet ports.
So how does this tiny CPU handle the huge amounts of data it’s meant to? Well, it doesn’t do it alone. Dell bundles 12 of these mini-servers in a 2U chassis, creating a fully customizeable server for Web hosting and similar tasks.
The Nano U2250 is only a 1.8 GHz chip with a 1 MB cache, but it can run a 64-bit OS and even the Intel VTX virtualization platform.
Drew Schulke, marketing manager for Dell’s Data Centre Solutions group, explained that power costs are growing daily, and its biggest customers are companies that buy thousands of servers at a time.
“We can come in to a relatively power-constrained rack [environment] and consolidate seven racks of their current [servers] down into one of these…. We could lose a deal [based] on a single watt.”
Dell’s resourcefulness in manipulating a tiny netbook chip into a high-grade server is sure to inspire plenty of similar adaptations in the near future. Intel would do well to get in on that market, but it’s hard to know if the Atom is up for the job.