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Intel Atom-based Servers: Sufficient for Dedicated Servers

btarunr

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#1
Intel Atom, the 'small wonder' of the computing industry, may have been making a mark with ULPC notebooks and inexpensive ITX solutions, but the UK-based web-hosting company Bytemark found a new application of this chip, dedicated servers. The Atom processors have sufficient computing power to handle web server processes. In Bytemark's words, they're "pushing the boundaries of what Intel Atom was intended to do". Although for now the design is simplistic, ITX based, Bytemark plans to take this concept to a large-scale, making inexpensive, energy-efficient servers. A dedicated server with a 1.60 GHz Atom, 2 GB memory, 2x 100 GB HDDs in RAID 1 (that's 100 GB of available storage), for £495 (US $992) per annum.

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DanTheBanjoman

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#2
Rather pointless, pay for some decent hardware and you can host many sites at once. And if your goal is a single relatively small site any other solution would do as well. The average thin client is fast enough.
 

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#3
$992 looks steep. What do Xeon / Opteron based services cost like in the UK?
 

DanTheBanjoman

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#4
$992 looks steep. What do Xeon / Opteron based services cost like in the UK?
Well, if you're speaking of services, why would you care what it's running on? I think a C2Q based server can be bought for the same money and offers far more performance. Power consumption isn't a real issue when you're not the host or are colocating.
 
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#5
Well, if you're speaking of services, why would you care what it's running on? I think a C2Q based server can be bought for the same money and offers far more performance. Power consumption isn't a real issue when you're not the host or are colocating.
Um.... I believe your mistaken. This is the Intel Atom based server hosting service for $992 per year, and NOT a server that you own. A C2Q Based server host for one year will cost more than that!

http://www.bytemark.co.uk/page/Live/hosting/dedicated/dedicatedvalue

AMD Athlon LE-1620 £100.00 £60.00 £660.00 Order…
AMD Athlon BE-2400 (dual core) £120.00 £75.00 £825.00 Order…
AMD Phenom 8650 (triple core) £140.00 £85.00 £935.00 Order…
AMD Phenom 9550 (quad core) £160.00 £95.00 £1045.00 Order…
Intel atom is by far MUCH cheaper.

Some research please before you bash anything...

You must remember that the Intel Atom is more than capable of being a server. A lot of the servers are still what.... Presconias, Prescotts, etc, some, even older. You'll only find C2Qs in more high end consumer-level server hosting services...

Xeons? You'll be charged a commercial fee.
 
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DanTheBanjoman

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#6
Intel atom is by far MUCH cheaper.

Some research please before you bash anything...
I'm not bashing, I'm simply stating I highly doubt that this is cheaper. Like I said, a similar C2Q system hosts a lot more servers at once. Hence changing the whole picture.

You must remember that the Intel Atom is more than capable of being a server. A lot of the servers are still what.... Presconias, Prescotts, etc, some, even older. You'll only find C2Qs in more high end consumer-level server hosting services...
So because current systems often use previous generation processors you can't compare a still to be purchased system with another available alternative?
Besides, like I said, the average thin client is enough to host a website. How did I forget an Atom being powerful enough?

So, $1K a year for an Atom. Nothing said about bandwidth and the likes. I know colocation in .nl (which is quite an expensive country) can be under €100 a month. So put a cheap C2Q in there and you have like 8x the processing power for double the price.
Of course there is more to it, but that's my first thought on which I base my doubts.


So before accusing me of bashing, telling me to research things and suggesting I "forget" things, please read what I say. You're free to disagree with me, just don't do it in a hostile way.
 
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#7
I haven't looked a lot into Atom, so I don't know if it has crippled memory management capablilities, in addition to it's compute limitations. If it doesn't and retains C2D capabilities, it could do a good job on scenarios where computing is not very important, like file servers and such, where the performance for it's requirements will be bottlenecked by the i/o to memory and ISP bandwidth rather than CPU's power and money would be better spent there: overall price goes down while mantaining the performance.

In that case even paying a little more to get a C2D server wouldn't make sense IMO.
 

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#8
In that case even paying a little more to get a C2D server wouldn't make sense IMO.
Indeed, however we're speaking of webservers. And my argument is running multiple servers on the same machine. I'd highly doubt the cost/performance ratio beats the quad here.
 
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#9
Indeed, however we're speaking of webservers. And my argument is running multiple servers on the same machine. I'd highly doubt the cost/performance ratio beats the quad here.
Honestly, I'm in the dark on this subject. I was only suggesting there could be some escenarios where CPU power could not be as neccesary as bandwidth. For example, (asumming C2Q performance = 8x Atom, which I doubt is the case for webserver purposes) if there's going to be a lot of i/o on the hard drives, you would need at least 9 HDs in RAID to match the performance-per-server of the system in question and a RAID controler capable of doing it right. And same applies to RAM, you would need 4x-8x the ammount of memory and 8x the connection speed, all with the added complexity of the maintenance.

Also you need a much much better power supply and cooling and the energy bill is going to be infinitely higher, unless you know you will have all those 8 servers running full all the time, in that case the 8 Atom PCs required to match C2D's performance would use more power. Otherwise, with only two servers running full at each time you have the C2D running at full speed, while with Atoms, that'd be 2 running full and others in idle, saving up a lot of energy.

Going back to maintenance, if one HD within the RAID fails you'd need to set up all the servers again on the C2D and only one on the equivalent Atom solution. And also count the fact that until you fix it you have 8 servers down, versus only one.

IMO that Atom solution could be as good in cost/performance as the C2D server if not better because of the above.

Again I'm pretty much in the dark, as I don't know anything about webservers first hand, and very vey little in the theory too. I'm assuming all the time that the Atom can run one/two servers just as fine as an Opteron or a C2D would do, while the latters ones could run more. My only own experience with somethng similar is hosting 16 player CSS LAN matches and for that purpose my old 1 Ghz Athlon Thunderbird was more than enough back in the day at school. The Ethernet router was by far the bottleneck there, because the performance increased (reduced latency) a lot when we moved to a Gigabit Ethernet capable one. Now maybe the bandwidth generated by a C2Q server is not enough to be close to bottleneck a Gigabit connection and then I'm totally wrong, all deductions in above paragraphs included...

As I said I'm totally in the dark here.:eek:
 

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#10
Well, webservers multithread well considering every request could can be run on a different thread. A C2Q runs at a higher clock. So i gave a rough estimate, I don't know if the Core2's are faster or slower at the same clock. RAM is highly dependent on the kind of website you run, and 2-4 GB which costs nothing is most likely enough. Connection speed is handled by the hoster so isn't your problem. You do pay more for more bandwidth though. And assuming memory isn't lacking by huge amounts harddrive performance isn't that relevant. 9 HD's really is pointless. Powersupply isn't an issue, 250W-300W would do the trick. Like I said, even though the Atoms might be slightly power power efficient, you're not hosting the thing and pay a fixed amount of money anyway.

When your RAID array fails you don't have to set up anything, that is the whole point of RAID. You simply take out the bad disk and put back a new one. It will auto-rebuild. The hosting company can do this for you.

Your server downtime argument conflicts with your complexity of maintenance argument.

So, assuming you run a small webserver, my thin client solution uses just a little power, less space and can fit two 2.5" disks as well (depending on model) They do have less processing power, but the things are meant for small webservers anyway. And due to the small size you can use two redundantly.
 

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#11
Just to clear some things up. The $992 price tag is not the price of the machine itself. It is the price per year you pay to use the machine as web host server. The entire machine is dedicated to your, your site is the only thing on the entire machine.

If you look at pricing for that type of service, assuming the $992 includes badwidth, then the price is very good. Even if it doesn't include bandwidth, it is a good deal. And it is really good for the hosting company because the machines consume very little power, which helps cut overheat.
 

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#12
What amazing is if the hosting company uses it for webservers, obviously they should assure high uptime, or rather: lowest possible downtime. If you dedicate your business website to a server based on an Atom (a ULPC processor), how peaceful are you? Sure, it's the hosting company's headache and all but downtime only harms you (your site).
 
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#13
Well, webservers multithread well considering every request could can be run on a different thread. A C2Q runs at a higher clock. So i gave a rough estimate, I don't know if the Core2's are faster or slower at the same clock. RAM is highly dependent on the kind of website you run, and 2-4 GB which costs nothing is most likely enough. Connection speed is handled by the hoster so isn't your problem. You do pay more for more bandwidth though. And assuming memory isn't lacking by huge amounts harddrive performance isn't that relevant. 9 HD's really is pointless. Powersupply isn't an issue, 250W-300W would do the trick. Like I said, even though the Atoms might be slightly power power efficient, you're not hosting the thing and pay a fixed amount of money anyway.

When your RAID array fails you don't have to set up anything, that is the whole point of RAID. You simply take out the bad disk and put back a new one. It will auto-rebuild. The hosting company can do this for you.

Your server downtime argument conflicts with your complexity of maintenance argument.

So, assuming you run a small webserver, my thin client solution uses just a little power, less space and can fit two 2.5" disks as well (depending on model) They do have less processing power, but the things are meant for small webservers anyway. And due to the small size you can use two redundantly.
Well I was talking as if I was the hosting company. That's why I talked about maintenance and the price of running it. ;)

Either way, RAID recovery not always works as it should. I had bad experiences in the past, but I haven't tried new RAID controlers and neither new ICH 8 and above Intel chipsets which were said to improve RAID by a good amount, so forget about that.

About 9 HDs, I was especifically doing a performance comparison to the Atom system. Effectively you need 8 HDs to be able to attain the same transfer rate for all 8 servers, plus one for redundancy =9. Whether that performance is needed or not it doesn't matter for what I was saying. And I know that you probably don't need that high rate to run a website (most websites are probably run on "slow" mahines like the one you mentioned), but many servers DO HAVE 8 HDs and many more in some cases, so it seems it is not pointless. The fact that websites don't require high transfer rate is usually because they are programed to not use it, because it's not available. One of my friends does the website (both internal and external) of one of the important banks here, and is always concerned with all the transfer rates, cutting down a lot of features he had previously thought because it would not run. And we are not talking about a C2Q server here, but a cluster supercomputer. My brother works in programing too, with BAAN, similar to SQL, and is always complainig about how slow their server is when it has to acces data from the drives. My point is that more HD performance is not pointless at all and these Atom servers could provide that better for small websites that the Core2 system would not, unlees it had 9 HDs. It would have some more disk space too, so you could have more data there, without requiring a separate file server. You would generally want a file server anyway though, but could be useful for some people.

The same basis can be applied to RAM amount. You can't run 8 servers on 4GB as well as you would run one with 2GB. Again many servers out there have more than 16 GB of RAM. There must be a reason for it don't you think? Of course, it depends on the kind of server you will run, but you must re-read everything and notice how I didn't say the Atom based system is always better. I said it could sometimes be better in reply to your claim of it being pointless.

Also I find it hard to believe anyone would run 24-7 a C2Q, 4-8GB RAM, RAID server on a 250-300 watt power supply. I know I wouldn't be compfortable.
 

DanTheBanjoman

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#14
Either way, RAID recovery not always works as it should. I had bad experiences in the past, but I haven't tried new RAID controlers and neither new ICH 8 and above Intel chipsets which were said to improve RAID by a good amount, so forget about that.
Well, first of all: RAID is not a backup. That being said, use an actual controller ;)
 
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#15
Well, first of all: RAID is not a backup. That being said, use an actual controller ;)
Hehe I know it's not a backup. ;)

But what IS a backup for someone like me? I use an external HD only for backups but I am not sure if that HD is the backup or the internal drives are. I mean, which is more secure? Which one will fail first? :laugh:

I use DVDs too, but they have the irritating custom of getting lost on the shelves or broken with the time and the coming and goings of everyday. :shadedshu



@btrunr

Why would an Atom server be any less reliable than other ones?

You have a point there though, as if the computer crashes it's only you who get harm, which means only you would complain to the hosting company for that especific machine. Less pressure on them is not any good, that's the truth.
 

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#16
Why would an Atom server be any less reliable than other ones?

You have a point there though, as if the computer crashes it's only you who get harm, which means only you would complain to the hosting company for that especific machine. Less pressure on them is not any good, that's the truth.
I don't know, Atom seems to be too inexpensive to look reliable, and at least 18/7 reliable at that....but then they also have Sempron servers. :ohwell:
 

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#17
Hehe I know it's not a backup. ;)

But what IS a backup for someone like me? I use an external HD only for backups but I am not sure if that HD is the backup or the internal drives are. I mean, which is more secure? Which one will fail first? :laugh:

I use DVDs too, but they have the irritating custom of getting lost on the shelves or broken with the time and the coming and goings of everyday. :shadedshu
A backup is basically a copy saved at another physical location. Preferably updated regularly. All dependent on the importance of the data of course and how often it changes.
Considering the amount of data people have nowadays DVD's are pointless, I'd personally say just have another harddrive to copy to, cheapest. On the other hand, if you only backup important data, ie photos, documents etc, you could just use DVD's.

@btrunr

Why would an Atom server be any less reliable than other ones?
I doubt they have ECC memory, memory errors are quite common. Look at the log of any server board, they log errors caught by ECC. All those errors sneak through on the Atom.
 
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#18
I don't know, Atom seems to be too inexpensive to look reliable, and at least 18/7 reliable at that....but then they also have Sempron servers. :ohwell:
Ah, I see. I thought I had missed some known concerns about its reliability or something.

I think that we got past the reliablity problem nowadays. Just look at how much overclocking we do nowadays (ok not me, not in 2 years :p) and we have the PC working all the day and it doesn't crash. Another fact is that nowadays Xeons are nothing more than selected Core2's. I suppose they would use some selected Atoms for the servers.

Anyway Atom was not expected to enter the mobile bussiness with some of it variants? It should can be able to run 24/7 just well in that case no?
 
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#19
A backup is basically a copy saved at another physical location. Preferably updated regularly. All dependent on the importance of the data of course and how often it changes.
Considering the amount of data people have nowadays DVD's are pointless, I'd personally say just have another harddrive to copy to, cheapest. On the other hand, if you only backup important data, ie photos, documents etc, you could just use DVD's.
I store them on both external HD and DVDs at the same time, but on DVDs only the most important things, like family and friend photos, etc. Yep that must definately be more important than my work files, which I only backup them on the external HD. :laugh:

I doubt they have ECC memory, memory errors are quite common. Look at the log of any server board, they log errors caught by ECC. All those errors sneak through on the Atom.
Hmm I have always thought ECC was a memory/memory controler/chipset issue. That the CPU had nothing to do with it. It's so good to learn...