What are Micro Servers?
Micro Servers are optimized low capacity/ low power server units which are packed in a dense configuration using a custom built chassis that can be used for handling a large number of simple computational workloads (Like serving web pages to a large number of users, social networking applications, cloud computing applications, etc).
Micro Servers can be characterized by the following attributes:
1. Higher Density than Normal Blade Servers (12 Micro Server Blades can be accommodated in 3U rack space instead of 3 1U blade servers, for example).
2. Purpose built modular Chassis that shares power, cooling, etc for the individual micro server modules which have a single low power / low capacity processor socket each (commonly single core/ dual core).
3. Lower power consumption (when compared to blade servers for the same level of computing load).
4. Lower cooling needs because of lower power consumption.
5. Occupies lesser space, hence saving valuable data center real estate costs.
6. Individually serviceable and hot-swappable compute units (blades).
7. Uninterrupted operation even if an individual compute node fails.
8. Mostly use ECC memory for server class reliability.
9. Lower cost per compute unit.
For example, SeaMicro has a hardware based CPU I/O virtualization technology that eliminates all Non-CPU components from the motherboard. So, components like external network access, storage, BIOS etc are shared across all the motherboards (CPU) and this contributes directly to the smaller size of each compute node. A maximum of 512 computational cores can be packed in to a single 9U rack based chassis. They also have a low latency, high bandwidth specialized inter-connect fabric that connects all these computational nodes together. Further, the workload is load-balanced across the various CPU units using a special management software that takes into account the CPU health, number of active connections (load), etc in each processor before allocating the workload to one of them. This could be useful large websites, private and public cloud applications, content delivery networks, etc.
Micro-Servers might become more popular in scenarios where many low power dense servers may be more efficient than fewer high powered ones. Probably, Micro-Servers could be an alternative to virtualization for certain applications (or) can be used along with virtualization. But one thing is for sure – Power consumption and efficiency are going to be an important factor while deciding on data center servers in the future, along with their capacity. And Micro-Servers have started that trend.
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