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Intel shows pint-size server motherboard

S3000PT is half the size of a regular server motherboard, letting two fit inside a small rack-mounted machine.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
2 min read
SAN FRANCISCO--Intel began showing off a half-size server motherboard Tuesday, a design that harkens back to earlier days when cramming in processors as densely as possible was a priority.

The S3000PT, code-named Port Townsend, measures about 6 inches by 13 inches, said Dave Kennedy, a product manager at Intel. That size means two of the motherboards can fit inside a single rack-mounted machine just 1.75 inches thick, or 10 can fit vertically in a 7-inch-thick machine. The company showed off both setups at its Intel Developer Forum here.

"It's a poor man's blade solution," Kennedy said of the latter product, which featured the motherboard in 10 blade servers in a bright yellow chassis built by Ever Case Technology. Each blade had a single four-core Xeon 3000 processor.

Intel's half-size motherboards

As reported, the Xeon 3000 processors are a server-oriented version of Intel's top-end "Extreme" line of Core 2 Duo processors. Pat Gelsinger, general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, announced the Xeon 3000 models in a keynote speech on Wednesday.

First-generation blade servers weren't a big success, in part because they arrived just as the dot-com bubble burst and in part because they emphasized stuffing as many processors into as little space as possible. Customers generally were happier with second-generation designs, which featured higher-end blades with reliability and remote management features.

But there's still demand for the low-end approach, Kennedy said. Customers use single-processor servers on the edge of corporate networks, handling tasks such as intrusion detection or hosting Web sites or application servers.

And there are cases where two uniprocessor servers in a rack-mount server is a better choice than one dual-processor machine, he added. For example, in the Stream data transfer speed test, two uniprocessor servers can pump data at 6.5 gigabytes per second each, for a total of 13GB per second, but a dual-processor machine can reach only 9GB per second.

The S3000PT motherboards will go on sale in October with dual-core Xeons, and a quad-core version is expected in January 2007, Kennedy said.