SeaMicro Atom Servers

First Generation Servers

How It Works (courtesy: arstechnica)

Each server node consists of one Atom Z530 chipset (Atom CPU plus I/O hub), a small pool of DRAM, and a special ASIC chip that attaches to the I/O hub’s PCIe bus. This ASIC is what makes the SeaMicro idea work, and it does so by pretending to be a standard complement of PCIe-based storage and networking controllers.

So while the front side of the ASIC attaches to the Atom chipset via PCIe, the backside of it attaches to a high-bandwidth, proprietary bus that connects the invidual server nodes to each other and to a shared pool of storage and network interfaces. The ASIC does a bit of sleight-of-hand for the Atom node that it’s attached to, making it appear as if the OS instance that’s running on that node is directly looking at and talking to the storage and networking controllers; in reality, those controllers are being shared by all of the Atom nodes in the system.

In other words, the ASIC implements a kind of I/O virtualization in hardware.

By removing all of the storage and I/O controller hardware from each server node in order to centralize it in one place in the system, and by leaving a single ASIC at the node as the kind of ghost or avatar for that (now centrally located) controller hardware, the SM10K dramatically reduces the size of each individual server node. The picture below shows a single board that packs eight server nodes in a 5″ x 11″ space.

Second Generation Servers

SeaMicro’s SM10000-64 system is comprised of:

  • 256 dual core 1.66 GHz Intel Atom processors,
  • 1.024 Terabytes of DDR3 DRAM,
  • up to 64 SATA solid state or hard disk drives,
  • 8 – 64 one gigabit Ethernet uplinks.

Additional benefits include:

  • support for 64-bit operating systems,
  • four gigabytes of addressable memory per socket,
  • industry leading density with 512 cores per 10 rack unit, or 2,048 cores per 7-foot rack,
  • delivers one gigabit of bandwidth per core: 5 times more bandwidth than traditional servers*
  • runs off-the-shelf OSs for application compatibility, enabling drop-in adoption,
  • Integrated top-of-rack switch, load balancer and console server, simplify infrastructure by eliminating equipment that adds unnecessary cost and management complexity.

The SM10000-64 is built around 256 SeaMicro-designed servers, each of which is about the size of a 2-inch by 3-inch business card, Feldman said. Each server includes only three components, including the Intel Atom N570 processor, the SeaMicro ASIC, and memory. Eight servers fit on a 5-inch by 11-inch motherboard, and 64 of those motherboards fit in a 10U system.

This gives customers 64-bit 512 Intel Atom N570 dual-core processors, which are combined with up to 64 SATA or SSD drives and up to 64 gigabit Ethernet switches. (courtesy:

Download SeaMicro overview here.


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