SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 14, 2010– SeaMicro™, a Silicon Valley pioneer of low power server technology, today emerged from stealth mode to launch a new Internet-optimized x86-server that reduces by 75 percent the power and space used by servers.  In development for three years, the SM10000™ is the ultimate re-think of the volume server.

Specifically optimized for the workloads and traffic patterns of the Internet, SeaMicro’s SM10000integrates 512 Intel® Atom™ processors with Ethernet switching, server management and application load-balancing to create a “plug and play” standards-based server that dramatically reduces power draw and footprint without requiring any modifications to existing software. The key benefits of the SM10000 include:

  • using one-quarter of the power and taking one-quarter of the space to do the same work as the best-in-class volume server,
  • industry leading density: 2,048 central processing units (CPUs) per standard rack,
  • drop–in adoption by running off-the-shelf OSs and applications without change,
  • flexible architecture that can support any CPU.

Reports from Google show that if current power trends continue, the cost of energy consumed by a server during its lifetime could surpass the initial purchase cost.  In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that volume servers consume more than one percent of the total electricity in the US—representing billions of dollars in wasted operating expense each year.

Addressing the Fundamental Server Design Mismatch

Historically, servers were designed to quickly solve a relatively small number of very hard problems. The Internet, however, changed this. In the Internet data center, the challenge is to handle millions of relatively small, independent tasks like those needed for searching, social networking, viewing web pages, and checking email. Volume servers failed to adapt to this fundamental change. This mismatch between volume servers and the now dominant Internet workload is the primary cause of the rapid increase in server power consumption and is responsible for the multi-billion dollar power problem in the data center. A completely new server design optimized for today’s data center was necessary.

Beyond the fundamental mismatch between today’s servers and the dominant workload, SeaMicro made another critical observation that set the stage for massive reductions in server power.  The CPU, usually the focus of power reduction efforts, consumes only one third of the power in a server. This means that large improvements in the CPU have only modest impact on the total power consumed by a server. In order to achieve large-scale power reductions, SeaMicro technology focused on the two-thirds power consumed by the non-CPU components. To this end, SeaMicro transformed the volume server into a high density, low power, single-box cluster computer, optimized for Internet traffic. SeaMicro further improved total cost of ownership and reduced the power consumed in a data center solution by integrating the functionality traditionally found in an entire data center rack – compute, storage, networking, server management and load balancing – into a single, low-power system.

Building on the dramatic reductions in power achieved at the system level, SeaMicro was then able to leverage low power CPUs, such as Intel’s Atom processor. Typically used for mobile devices and the smallest laptops, Intel’s Atom is the most efficient CPU for handling Internet workloads, which are now the most common in the data center.

SeaMicro Technology Innovations

Three primary technology innovations define the system:

  • SeaMicro invented and patented a new technique in CPU I/O virtualization, which dramatically reduces non-CPU power draw by eliminating 90 percent of the components from the motherboard. This CPU I/O virtualization allows SeaMicro to shrink a server motherboard from the size of a pizza box to the size of a credit card.
  • SeaMicro designed a supercomputer-style interconnect fabric that can link 512 mini-motherboards into a single system with an order-of-magnitude reduction in power draw and space. This fabric provides 1.28 terabits per-second throughput, with complete security and redundancy. Additionally, the architecture can support any CPU instruction set and any protocol, including Ethernet, fibre channel, and data center Ethernet.
  • SeaMicro also invented Dynamic Compute Allocation Technology™ (DCAT). DCAT combines CPU management and load balancing, allowing the SM10000 to dynamically allocate workloads to specific CPUs on the basis of power-usage metrics. This ensures that the active CPUs operate in the most energy-efficient utilization ranges.In addition, DCAT technology enables compute pooling—allowing the user to create pools of compute for a given application. This enables the user to dynamically add compute resources to the pool based on predefined utilization thresholds.

Seamless Integration into Current Data Center Environments

The SM10000 simplifies data center operations and management by eliminating layers of switches, terminal servers and load-balancing devices. The system is built on standards-based x86 CPUs, which means it is plug and play – customers can deploy the SM10000 without modifications to existing operating systems, application software or management tools.

SeaMicro’s SM10000 system is comprised of:

  • 512 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processors
  • 1 terabyte of DRAM
  • 0 – 64 SATA solid state or hard disk drives
  • 8 – 64 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks; or 2 – 16 10 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks
  • The entire system is 10 rack units tall (17.5 inches tall).

SeaMicro was founded by industry veterans with expertise in building large data centers and cluster computers.  They come from leading technology companies including Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, Sun Microsystems, Intel, and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).  The company has raised $25 million from strategic partners and venture capitalists including Khosla Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Crosslink Capital. SeaMicro was also awarded a $9.3 million grant from the Department of Energy, which was the largest grant awarded to a server company in the Information and Communication Technology Sector.

The SeaMicro SM10000 will be generally available July 30, 2010 in the U.S. and select international locations. The list price for a base configuration is $139,000. More information on SeaMicro and the SM10000 is available on its new web site, also launched today, at

About SeaMicro

SeaMicro is transforming the data center landscape by building servers that draw one-quarter the power and take one-quarter the space of traditional servers. By delivering breakthrough innovations borne of multiple technology domains – CPU design, virtualization, supercomputing and networking – SeaMicro has created a new server architecture purpose-built for scale out infrastructures such as those found in the web-tier, online gaming, search and index computation.

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Tara Sims

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