Intel today announced its 'Centerton' range of Intel Atom processors for servers. The Intel Atom Processor S1200 range includes three SKUs each with dual 'Saltwell' x86 cores with Hyper-Threading technology, is manufactured via a 32nm process, and represents the first time Intel has launched Atom chips for the data centre. Intel says the S1200 range is the "world's first 6W, 64-bit system on a chip for data centres", getting in an early defence against the 64-bit server chips expected from ARM next year. See all storage reviews.

As might be expected from a product bearing the 'Atom' moniker, the Centerton processors are aimed at those businesses who want to target low power consumption. With a 6-Watt TDP (thermal design power - or the maximum amount of power the cooling system in a computer is required to dissipate), the Atom S1200 processors are high density, offering more than 1,000 nodes per rank. This means they offer more than five times the number of nodes per rack than similar Xeon processors. See all components news.

The Centerton chips offer up to 2GHz frequency, and 8GB memory capacity. They provide 64-bit computing, ECC memory, 8x PCIe 2.0 interfaces, and existing Intel virtualisation technology. Indeed, according to Intel the processors are all compatible with existing Intel software, making it simple to slot them in to a scalable setup. Expect 22nm 'Avoton' Atom processors in 2013.

In a presentation earlier today, Chris Feltham, EMEA product manager at Intel, told PC Advisor that the computational needs of businesses are segmenting, and total cost of ownership is becoming the key factor in determining which server processor is best. He stressed that the Atom chips weren't intended to take away from sales of existing Xeon processors, saying that Intel makes the same return on each, and so the idea was to offer greater flexibility to customers.

The Centerton processors are aimed at less CPU- and I/O-intensive server situations, said Feltham. He said that we should expect to see them soon in micro servers, as well as some networking equipment and entry level storage devices.

Such micro servers, Feltham said, would be power efficient, single-socket scale-out models. He added that although ARM offers custom designs, Intel feels that this solution "offers customers the customisation they need".