NYtimes - Atom and ARM server companies

NYTtimes has a blog post on lower power mobile chips being used in Servers.

Bits - Business, Innovation, Technology, Society

October 6, 2009, 5:00 PM

Servers With Cellphone Chips? Yep, Here They Come


If a server runs on a smartphone chip is it still a server?

Enterprise Computing

The era of such a deeply philosophical data center question is upon us. A pair of stealthy start-ups have placed smartphone chips at the center of their plans to create a new breed of low-power servers. They’re hoping that this radical take on data center hardware will attract the likes of Google, Facebook and Microsoft, which all battle energy costs on a huge scale.

The Intel Atom based company is SeaMicro.

SeaMicro, based in Santa Clara, Calif., has put together a server based onIntel’s Atom chip, which currently slots into things like netbooks and other mobile computing devices. Intel expects Atom to drive its cell phone strategy in the coming years as well.

Exact details on the SeaMicro product have been tough to come by, since the company remains inside the cone of silence, but people familiar with SeaMicro’s hardware say it will pack about 80 Atom chips in a very small chassis. The company also has some proprietary hardware and software twists, these people said.

SeaMicro is in silence mode, but here is nugget from their web site.

At SeaMicro we believe data centers can be vastly more power efficient than they are today. To this end, we have tremendous customer support and outstanding Venture Capital backing. Our staff is comprised of experts with decades of experience and we are always looking for exceptional people who can add to our strength.

SeaMicro is a rapidly growing technology pioneer so you will wear many hats and have opportunity to grow. We believe that working for SeaMicro will be the most exciting and challenging chapter of your career.

The ARM based company is Smooth-Stone.

In Austin, Texas, there lurks another start-up called Smooth-Stone. According to people familiar with its plans, Smooth-Stone is working on a chip using the ARM architecture that will go into servers. ARM chips from companies like Samsung and Qualcomm typically make their way into phones like the iPhone.

Barry Evans, the chief executive of Smooth-Stone, did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Mr. Evans worked at Intel for many years in the company’s communications and mobile products groups.

Here is information in local papers. Austin Business Journal.

Smooth-Stone Inc., which is a member of the Austin Technology Incubator and develops low power server technology, will receive an initial $250,000 pre-seed investment from the state with potential for $1 million in total investment for the commercialization of its technology.

“Smooth-Stone’s innovative architecture has the potential to change the server market and keep Texas on the cutting edge of technology,” said Jack McDonald, chairman and CEO of Perficient Inc. and chairman of the Central Texas Regional Center of Innovation and Commercialization.

Barry Evans, CEO of Smooth-Stone, said the server market is catching on to what the mobile phone market has known for nearly 20 years.

“Power consumption matters,” Evans said. “Moore’s law delivers amazing gains in server compute performance, but power and cooling challenges are now front and center. Smooth-Stone is bringing low-power mobile phone technology to servers. We are proud to partner with the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Central Texas Regional Center of Innovation and Commercialization, the state of Texas and the Austin Technology Incubator to lead the push for truly green datacenters.”

Data centers use large amounts of electricity, which some technology experts say is becoming a problem.

“There is a tremendous amount of improvement potential in reducing data center power consumption,” said Ian Ferguson, director of Segment Marketing with ARM, a company working with Smooth-Stone on low power technology.