Special Purpose Hardware for the Web

Ashlee Vance wrote an interesting article, Big Web Operations Turn to Tiny Chips describing some new startups using netbook chips as the CPU in webservers. SeaMicro virtualizes the I/O. Several companies have have designed I/O virtualization producs such as Xsigo Systems, Next IO, and Vertensys but these products are top of rack. SeaMicro points out that only 1/3 of the total power consumption of a server is used by the CPU. Virtualization of I/O will help with that. SeaMicro stuffs 512 1.6GHz Atom z530 chips in a 10u chassis.

A search of the careers on their website indicates they are targeting running nginx or apache webservers with MySql. I wonder what 10 systems each with 10 gig Ethernet, solid state storage and dual sockets populated with AMD Phenom II X6 1090T CPUs which have a passmark of 6,527 would compare to SeaMicro’s 512 z530s with a passmark of 299 with 64 gigabit ethernet ports. It will be interesting to see the benchmarks.


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