January could see a new wave of compact mini-servers marrying second-gen Atom chips to Windows Home Server systems.
Intel is taking a page from its PC playbook and developing a bespoke platform for home servers – specifically those running Microsoft’s Windows Home Server OS.
These super-compact systems not only cut down on the unused space in the Mini-ITX form factor but are designed from the ground up for servers. They’re tipped to take centre stage alongside the second-gen Atom ‘Pineview’ processor, and a new wave of Pineview netbooks, at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Codenamed Little Butte (after a creek in the US state of Oregon where Intel has a major presence, not because the server has a smaller backside than Mini-ATX systems) and developed in concert with Gigabyte, the platform is shaped around the footprint of a 3.5 inch hard drive, given that storage is the core component of a home server.
And whereas a Mini-ATX system needs to have some components added and others removed (or left but made redundant) to act as a WHS box, Little Butte was created to be the ideal WHS machine.
In addition to a Pineview single-core D410 or dual-core D510 processor, Little Butte offers four SATA ports for internal drives, along with a pair of eSATA ports and four USB 2.0 ports for connecting external drives and other devices.
There’s also Gigabit Ethernet and a front panel connector for a visual control panel and/or status indicators, but only a single memory slot because the needs of most WHS systems can be met by a single 1GB or 2GB stick of RAM.
Another WHS-friendly consideration is the embedded switch on the rear panel which boots the server into a WinPE environment for recovery from a system crash.