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Mobile Processor Meets The Server

Mobile Processor Meets The Server - PCSTATS
Abstract: For the Santa Clara based company, FiberCycle, the current energy crisis in California is a blessing. Were it not for the rolling blackouts...
Filed under: Servers Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: TransmetaZone. Mar 08 2001   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Servers > TransmetaZone.

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 obtuse.

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 lucrative.

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 TM5600 processor.

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 independently.

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 solution.

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 out.


 

Contents of Article: TransmetaZone.

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