Cores in the cloud: Does brawny or wimpy win?

Jason Waxman Intel Structure 2012
Jason Waxman, VP and GM, Cloud Infrastructure Group, Intel
(c)2012 Pinar Ozger [email protected]

As the cloud of web services expands, more servers are needed. But should those servers be brawny cores filled with raw power or lightweight wimpy cores in greater numbers? Since we can’t have the two arm wrestle for the win, Jason Waxman, VP and GM, Cloud Infrastructure Group, Intel Corporation(s intc) offered perspective on Wednesday at GigaOM Structure 2012in San Francisco.

There are pros and cons to each, says Waxman, whose company makes both types of chips in the high-end Xeon and low-power Atom lines to name a few. How then should a company plan their infrastructure? “It doesn’t matter,” Waxman notes. Instead of planning for one scenario or the other, dynamic technology with a range of options is the best approach.

Currently, that means Xeon chips running at 45 watts all the way down to the Centerion Atom that HP(s hpq) will use in servers, which is a 6 watt system on a chip. Waxman also introduced a 22 nanometer next-gen Atom SOC called Avoton, due out in 2013. In a demo of the Centerton Micro Server, Waxman showed off a distributed workload between two chips, which together used all of 9 watts of juice.

That’s great for low-power solutions in the cloud, but a heavy duty application server could need the higher power of a Xeon cluster. It makese sense that both brwany and wimpy solutions should be available because of the dynamic range of cloud serves. A full range of choices will continue to be needed as the cloud evolves in terms of services, requirements, applications and user needs.

Check out the rest of our Structure 2012 coverage, as well as the live stream, here.

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