Via builds low-power server on laptop chips

Via Technologies Inc. will sell a compact server powered by its low-power processors, which are traditionally designed to run in laptops and netbooks.

The company’s Mserv S2100 device will run on the 64-bit Nano processor in a desktop-size box that is 10.2 inches (0.25 meters) long and 4.7 inches high, the company said Tuesday. The processor will operate at speeds between 1.3GHz and 1.6GHz.

Targeted at small businesses and home offices, the server is designed to run light workloads, such as data backup or Web hosting of applications, Via said. The device can also be a network backup device or media server.

Nano chips are typically found in low-cost laptops, such as Samsung’s NC20 netbook, to run basic applications like Web surfing and word processing. However, such chips are also finding use in servers as part of a growing trend to use low-power chips in servers to reduce costs. Compared to traditional server chips, laptop chips require less energy and cooling. These servers are also a cheaper alternative to general-purpose servers that may be too powerful and costly for basic server workloads.

For example, Dell already uses Nano chips in the XS11-VX8, which is designed to run Web hosting applications. Microsoft’s research group has also built an experimental server based on 50 low-power Atom chips from Intel, according to a video posted by the company on YouTube.

Via’s Mserv S2100 server includes two Gigabit Ethernet ports and can store up to 4TB of data. The system includes hardware-based virtualization support, and a hardware-based engine encrypts data on the fly.

The server supports multiple Microsoft operating systems including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 Foundation, as well as Linux distributions including Ubuntu and Suse. Pricing for the product was not immediately available, but the company said the system is available immediately through distribution channels worldwide.

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