CHIPMAKER Intel has showcased two of its latest Atom processors and mated them to an "enterprise southbridge" for the popular two-bay and four-bay network attached storage (NAS) market.
Intel's Atom processor has become the chip of choice among NAS vendors such as Qnap and Thecus after early ARM based designs were found not to have the performance required to meet many customers' demands. Now Chipzilla has highlighted the Atom D2550 and D2500 processors along with launching what it called an "enterprise southbridge" chipset to offer support for HDMI video outputs and greater SATA connectivity.
Intel lined up Qnap, Thecus and Asustor to show off models based around the new chips and their supporting chipset with David Tuhy, storage division GM at Intel saying that further designs are expected but that those three firms have been collaborating with Intel for some time.
Interestingly, Intel didn't talk much about specifications, instead it was left to Qnap to spill the beans on the Atom D2550, a dual-core chip that runs at either 1.83GHz or 2.13GHz with 1MB of Level 2 cache and supports Hyper Threading. Intel launched the Atom D2550 and D2500 chips earlier this year but until now it hasn't really made a big song and dance about them until some of its customers added the southbridge and slipped them into NAS units.
Intel's decision to offer HDMI output through its southbridge chipset might seem rather odd for a NAS box, but both Qnap and Thecus claimed their products can be used as a digital video recorders.
Tuhy said, "Intel's next generation Atom processor provides an ideal solution for powering intelligent storage system designs that will act as a personal cloud inside the office or home, and will deliver better ways to store and access data. With a range of systems designers on board, the Intel Atom processor based storage solution raises the bar in how data is stored, managed and shared."
While Intel stole a march over aging ARM chips that were found in early NAS boxes, the firm can expect a bit more competition as ARM vendors get serious about putting chips into servers. However, for the time being, Intel's Atom chips remain a popular choice in a storage market that Tuhy said racks up close to three million sales every year. µ