For the Santa Clara based company, FiberCycle, the current energy crisis in
California is a blessing. Were it not for the rolling blackouts and power hungry
server farms. the demand for a low-power web server would be mild if not
That is the situation in California, and along with several other companies,
most notably RLX Technologies, FiberCycle have stepped in to deliver the Holly
Trinity of the server world.The high-density, low-power, scalable-on-demand, web
server - The WebBunker Model FC206i. The first of FiberCycle's Web Bunker line
of servers will hit the market mid Q2:2001 for about $10,900USD. The 2U rack
mounting unit has six independent single CPU servers (it will be scale to dual
processors shortly), dual redundant power supplies and IO blades.
While RLX Technologies has been tight-lipped about the details of their
low-power 15 Watt Razor servers, FiberCycle CEO Spero Koulouras touted the
density of their Web Bunker saying " FiberCycle can fit ~500 processors in a 2
Meters of rack space, comparably only 40-80 PIII processors could be stored in
the same space." That kind of density characteristic would enable Internet Data
Centers to cut their costs per square foot of rack space considerably. Based on
the 30" cabinet configuration in this example, FiberCycle servers could be
dropped in back-to-back from both sides of the cabinet. Their 14" depth and
front-side cable connections make this kind of density astounding, and
You can see why companies like Exodus are licking their lips, and why
FiberCycle sent their Beta versions out to the largest Internet Data Centers
(IDC) to see exactly what the mega-hosting facilities wanted.
Exodus sits in the precarious position of drawing more electricity from
California's beleaguered power grid than just about any other entity apparently.
This puts Exodus in a very bad position, as the power problems effectively stop
them from growing in the traditional manner. The solution might just be to
expand inward by adding the Crusoe-based webservers from RLX or FiberCycle.
With Beta units in two IDC's at the moment, FiberCycle have confirmed four customers. RLX Technologies has just recently moved out of
Alpha testing into Beta with a rumored 3U rack containing 24 TM5800
processors. With the FiberCycle WebBunker touting a 500 processor per rack density you
can imagine any large sales could quickly generate a large demand for the Crusoe
According to Ed McKernin, Transmeta's director of marketing, several of the
principals now racing to stake their claim in the low-power server market first
came to them shortly after Transmeta broke the silence over a year ago. Since
that time the companies have been developing their products essentially
FiberCycle for instance has even adopted parts of Transmeta's Long Run power
management utility into their own proprietary software tools developed for
server admins. Transmeta it seems, has thus far been content to sit on the side
lines - at least for FiberCycle. RLX Technologies has enjoyed a very close
partnership with Transmeta, who Alpha tested the first iterations of RLX's Razor
server. According to Transmeta, a version of their Code Morphing Software (CMS)
has now been tuned specifically for server applications.
Rather than publicly focusing on the potential for Crusoe in the low-power
server market Ditzel and Co. seem to have been focusing the majority of efforts
on developing Crusoe for the sub-4lb notebook market. The goal it seems is to
capture a large portion of the market for notebooks costing less than $2000.
Server are for now just icing on the supply chain cake.
In the world of servers, Intel is still strong, and while the promise of
higher profits through increased density, and decreased power bills is enough to
swing the IDC's over to Crusoe-based servers, but will it be sufficient to earn
customer confidence? After all, servers have to be able to handle the load, have
to be reliable, and have to be blazingly fast. If Crusoe-based web servers
cannot meet in real-world customer trials their future may be a short one.
To meet the increasing demands of the caching server, FiberCycle plan to
introduce a "caching system" on one of the future iterations of the WebBunker
server line which will be capable of delivering an astounding 10 Gigabits per
second of data.
Such is the vision of FiberCycle who forecast the increased demand of "rich
web content" fueling the need for servers such as theirs. With bandwidth fast
loosing its' place as the bottleneck of the internet, the next limitation may
very well be the servers' own processing power.
Whatever the real-world limitations are, the developments in low-power
servers that we'll be seeing in the second quarter may end up having the single
largest impact on the server market as we know it. The restrictions on the IDC's
are clear as they continue to consume more electricity and run short on rack
space. The low-power, high-density server is set to offer a very lucrative
For the moment, Transmeta appears to be focusing primarily on the notebook, though
the recent rise to CEO by Mark Allen may change plans. The potential for
growth is vast, and the stakes high.Compaq's pending suite against RLX
Technologies only underscores that point. Compaq is rumored to be developing its
own brand of low-power servers. Transmeta may soon be reaping a windfall from
two low-power sectors that would never have seemed to be related, notebooks that
surf the internet, and the servers which dish it