On the surface, asking Intel to manufacture a 16-core Atom processor sounds like an odd request. But that's exactly what Microsoft has done. Not for Windows on the home desktop front, mind you, but for use in servers, ComputerWorld reports.
According to one Microsoft executive, low-power processors like Intel's Atom chip and AMD's Bobcat present a "huge opportunity" to tackle energy consumption woes. Even though these chips weren't really developed with server tasks in mind, they're more energy efficient at some server workloads than Xeon processors, says Dileep Bhandarkar, an engineer with Microsoft's Global Foundation Services
"I think Intel is going to have to do it at some point. We're seeing more of the ARM guys going after the server market and just to compete on power performance per watt, Intel is going to have to rely on the Atom CPU," said Linley Gwennap, founder and principal analyst at The Linley Group.
While that's true for ARM, Microsoft is hesitant to move away from x86. Bhandarkar said Microsoft would consider using ARM-based servers "if ARM can show [Microsoft] enough value over an x86 solution...but there has to be a clear performance benefit."