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Intel expands Atom to home servers

Atom processor homes in on the world of home offices and small offices, in a format designed to power servers and network-attached storage devices.

Intel's Atom chip is moving up in the world, from Netbooks to home and small-office servers.

The chipmaker on Thursday launched its first Atom processor optimized for the SOHO (small office/home office) market. Intel's new platform marries the Atom D410 single-core or D510 dual-core chip, along with its 82801IR I/O Controller, to power small servers and storage devices made by LaCie, LG Electronics, and other manufacturers.

The new Atom chips use 50 percent less power and offer better performance than older Atoms, according to Intel, helping them drive more demanding SOHO servers and NAS (network-attached storage) devices.

"NAS systems have traditionally been found in businesses to manage, store and access data," said Seth Bobroff, general manager of Intel Data Center Group, Storage, in a statement. "Today, households and small offices have an ever-increasing number of computers, laptops, netbooks and mobile phones that create and consume digital content. This advancement in mobility coupled with the explosive growth of data and media are creating the need for centralized, easy-to-use network storage solutions for the home and small office."

LG Electronics' N4B2 NAS device is one unit now being powered by the Atom D510. The device can read and write large chunks of data very quickly and let up to 20 people simultaneously stream high-quality content over a SOHO network, according to LG.

Intel's new Atom chip-and-controller platform offers six PCI slots, 12 USB 2.0 ports, and an eSATA port that computer makers can use to add more devices and bump up storage capacity. The platform also provides hot-plug capabilities, so a user can connect a new drive or other peripheral without having to power down the device. The platform also features an integrated Gigabit Ethernet controller and supports Microsoft's Windows Home Server and Linux.