Dell has announced an "ultra-light" server that will be powered by low-power processors designed for use in netbooks.
Via Technologies' Nano netbook processors will power Dell's XS11-VX8 servers, which are designed to run light server workloads such as web hosting applications. Nano chips are primarily seen in netbooks like Samsung's NC20, to run basic applications such as web surfing and word processing.
Dell's move to use Nano chips is part of a growing trend to use low-power chips in servers to reduce datacentre costs. Netbook chips require less energy and cooling than traditional server chips.
Other examples of the move towards low-power chips include a project at Microsoft's research group, which is trying to build an experimental server based on 50 low-power Atom chips from Intel. Tiny fans cool the Atom chips on each board, showing how little heat the chips produce.
In addition to generating less heat, the servers also reduce waste of computing resources by providing the speed required for basic server applications, says Drew Schulke, product marketing manager for Dell's datacentre business. These servers are a cheaper alternative to general-purpose ones that may prove too powerful and costly for basic server workloads.
The Dell servers will comprise 12 server boards with Nano chips in one 2U chassis. Each board will include Via's Nano U2250 processor, which runs at 1.3GHz, and a storage module.
Each chassis will contain fewer fans and power supplies compared to a traditional 1U tower server, Schulke says. Nano chips require smaller fans and consume 20 to 29 watts at full capacity, he says. Systems with traditional server chips, such as Intel's Xeon chips or AMD's Opteron chips, generally require larger fans.
The servers will be available soon worldwide through distribution channels, Schulke says.