According to some reports, Microsoft is pushing Intel into developing 16-core Atom chips for their server farms. Microsoft’s data servers are currently powered by Intel Xeon server-class chips. While the Xeon processors are fast enough to power their servers, they consume a lot of power and generate a lot of heat and these problems are a real headache when you have tens of thousands of servers. A 16-core Atom chip would be able to deliver the processing power that Microsoft needs, but it would also consume less power and generate less heat.
Because some types of servers (like web servers) work on massively parallel loads (each web request is independent), it could be more power-efficient to have a multitude of relatively slow cores, rather than a smaller number of very fast cores.
With Intel’s competitors (Via) offering low-power alternative server processors, Intel might feel the pressure from this market. This is something that’s not officially on the roadmap as far as we know.
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