...except Atom IS an X86 processor
Yep, same instruction set as the big boys, just lower power and performance.
Intel is pitching an Atom processor platform for storage boxes in home networks and small office/home office applications. Tandberg announced its DPS2000 4-drive storage box late last month and it uses the Atom chip. The new platform has the newly-launched Atom D410 single-core and D510 dual-core. It also has Intel's 82801IR …
But then I've never seen it written with an upper-case X either. It's x86, as in the x is (was) a variable to represent 2, 3, 4 etc not to mention the 8086. Much like it was Win 9x, not Win 9X.
It's weird, it's like the author is a cross between me and my Dad. Knows technical stuff, mixed in with vagueness. I'm sure the me/Dad hybrid would refer to "external SATA thingies" too :-)
As for WHS and *nix supporting the platform, of course they will - anything that has an x86 (or even x64) will support it. Driver support may be flakier, but even then it all looks like standard stuff, even the disk controller.
6 PCI Express lanes looks odd though.
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Intel has ARM based processors (or at least they did).. the Atom isn't one of them AFAIK. It would be a little silly to use the Atom branding for a bunch of chips of one arch and then suddenly use the same branding for a bunch of different chips..
I think the "desktop" Atoms all have the ability to run in long mode..
It'll be interesting to see the through-put of these systems. The Atom is hardly meaty, so I wonder if it'll be able to push data from a RAID5 or something else which requires some computation at anywhere near GigE.
Intel sold off their XScale (formerly StrongARM) ARM IPR to Marvell quite some time ago; having themselves bought it from DEC. Mostly on account of the fact that they couldn't get the power usage levels down to that of the competition at the time (mostly TI's OMAP, I recall).
They use to produce RISC chips of their own architecture a long time ago (late 80s, early 90s) for workstation use. AFAIK, they no longer do as it was an Itanic style faliure.
However, Intel may still hold an ARM license (which, I suppose, will give them the ability to see how ARM design their chips'n'bits).
While I don't know if Intel holds a license to ARM (although nothing would surprise me), they do still market a few RISC processor designs.
I'm told (or read, or somehow came to hear) the ill-fated i860 was supposed to have some role as a CPU in PCs and that at one point, there was talk of compiling Windows NT to run on it. I've never seen any evidence of this. Later, the i960 came along and while it didn't find a lot of use in computers, it did prove very popular as a microcontroller. Countless RAID controllers have used it and some still do*. The HP Fax 9xx and early HP OfficeJet 500 series machines also used it.
* Although Intel has obsoleted the original i960, system-on-chip versions of it still exist for use on RAID controllers where RAID-5 parity calculations are required. These are known as I/O Processors by Intel.
... which is/was the Digital Equipment Corp./Intel variants of the ARM chip (at least before Xscale replaced it, which was then sold to Marvell).
I did not see an XScale pun in the article.
But I believe that when ARM Holdings were set up to guide the development of the architecture, the chip design was re-branded as the "Advanced RISC Machine", removing the Acorn name (at least this is what Wikipedia says here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_architecture)
I really miss the thinking behind Acorn machines.
So you managed to get Atom board, memory, SD card, case and power supply (one big enough to supply enough juice for the h/w named, plus four drives) for a mere 180 beer vouchers? I'm very impressed!
I am/was in the market for exactly this arrangement - even looked at VIA mini-/nano-itx, but came across the problem that none of the cases suitable were capable of supporting more than two 3.5" drives. Okay, that leaves the obvious alternative of using a "full" mATX case - but wouldn't that look a bit daft with only a baby Atom board and four drives in it?
The only suitable case I found was a Chenbro ES34069 - but that totally blows the budget, since it's over £170 by itself.
http://www.xcase.co.uk/Atomic-Home-Server-p/case-atomic-home%20server.htm is the case in question. OK, it's not specifically set up for 4 hard disks, but 2 hotswap, 1 internal and a 5.25 bay which is easily modified. PSU is more than capable.
I chose this over the Chenbro due to beer voucher contraints as you point out. It would have been my ideal choice otherwise.
I have a strong suspicion that the Chenbro suffers from the inexplicable "NAS tax", which automatically doubles the price of anything that could remotely be described as a NAS.
This is a smart move on Intel's part.
1) Not as power-critical -- some markets Intel wanted to push the Atom, power is VERY important, and ARM *will* be lower power than the Atom. For a file server? An extra watt or two is not something I'd sweat.
2) At least in existing designs, it seems like a lot of the ARM-based NAS systems do not have a DMA engine, and so they'll max out the CPU while struggling to hit 100mbps serving files (even if they have a gigabit port on them.) The disk controller, and ethernet controller, could support zero-copy (reading disk blocks directly into ethernet chip memory via sendfile() can do samba, nfs, etc. file sharing with near-0 cpu usage) but without the DMA support it won't happen. These Atoms I'm sure have the DMA support of a desktop Atom and will do this fine. This alone makes Atom FAR FAAR more suited for this task than an ARM.
I just followed your link, which went to another or your articles from late Feb...
"The DPS2000 will ship in March, come with AccuGard, with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price MSRP) from $2,290 for 4TB"
WTF? For home network? Good greif!
You could buy a 5 bay Thecus, powered by a good old fashioned Celeron and install 5 x 1Gig drives in it for half that!
For those who want to use these things in their own projects, Intel sells a pair of highly integrated mini-ITX motherboards featuring the D410 and D510 Atom CPUs, and neither one is terribly expensive. Both have a built in gigabit Ethernet NIC, the only thing lacking is SATA connectors. A D510M0 also has a PCI Express slot in place.
Those who criticize the performance of the Atom as compared to some ARM solution haven't (so far as I know) done their homework. I've done my own tests and read of those by others. A lot of the ARM based SoCs for use in network attached storage hardware won't come anywhere near saturating a gigabit networking line, nor will they saturate the channel between disk and CPU. The CPU is almost always the limiting factor in these things--either that, or the programming used is really that bad.
I was surprised to not see the mention of FreeNAS in this article. FreeNAS has happily run on the well known Intel D945GCLF(2) motherboards and also on the much less well known D201GLY(2/2A) with its Celeron 220 and SiS chipset (which was available with full passive cooling). FreeNAS compares extremely favorably to the competition.
One thing must not be ignored...Intel is getting better at this. A D410PT board sat on my workbench all day and ran without incident. It's completely passively cooled and doesn't work up a lot of heat even under heavy CPU usage. This is a vast improvement over the former 945/Atom 220/320 combination that was previously in use.
And, to be sure: Use the right OS for your HOME-NAS. You want something, that really protects your data, and that "feature" currently can only be guaranteed by the ZFS volume-manager and filesystem. So, you need to run OpenSolaris on such a box, and luckily, OpenSolaris runs very well on these boxes!
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