Intel this week formally launched its Atom C3000-series processors (formerly codenamed Denverton). The new chips are designed for inexpensive storage servers, NAS applications, as well as autonomous vehicles. The C3000 series features up to 16 low power x86 cores, integrated 10 GbE, rather rich I/O capabilities, as well as Intel’s Quick Assist technology.

Intel’s Atom C3000 processors are based on Intel's current-generation Goldmont Atom microarchitecture, with SKUs offering between 2 and 16 cores and clockspeeds up to 2.2 GHz. Being designed for primarily for NAS and servers, the Atom C3000 SoCs fully support Intel’s VT-d hardware virtualization, Quick Assist compression/encryption technology (up to 20 Gbps throughput) as well as up to 64 GB of single-channel DDR4-1866 or DDR3L-1600 ECC memory. When it comes to I/O, the Atom C3000 features a PCIe 3.0 x16 controller (with x2, x4 and x8 bifurcation), 16 SATA 3.0 ports, four 10 GbE controllers, and four USB 3.0 ports.

Due to its rich I/O capabilities, the Atom C3000 is aimed at a wide range of devices, including servers/NAS (which they were originally designed for) as well as emerging applications like IoT and autonomous vehicles. For example, PCIe 3.0 bus may be used to connect various controllers, sensors and co-processors (e.g., a GPU) to the SoC. Last year we examined one of the server-oriented C3000-based designs that is going to be one of the many devices featuring the new chips.

Intel will offer various versions of its Atom C3000 SoCs with different TDPs starting at 8.5 W. The chips will support extended temperature ranges for storage, industrial and autonomous driving environments. In addition, Intel says that the processors feature “automotive-grade safety and security features,” but does not elaborate (generally, ECC, Quick Assist, virtualization, etc. can be considered as safety and security features too).

So far, Intel has only announced one Atom C3000-series SoC: the Atom C3338, which has two cores running at 1.5 – 2.2 GHz, 4 MB cache, 10 PCIe 3.0 lanes, 10 SATA 3.0 ports, four Gigabit Ethernet ports and so on. The chip has 9 W TDP and costs $27 in commercial quantities and is expected to be available to Intel’s customers already this quarter.

Intel’s partners have been testing the Atom C3000 processors since at least early 2016. The chipmaker expects its allies to start launching actual products based on the chips by mid-2017. In addition to the SoCs themselves, Intel will also supply a data plane development kit (DPDK) as well as a storage performance development kit (SPDK) to assist its partners in development of networking and storage applications.

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Source: Intel

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  • Azurael - Thursday, February 23, 2017 - link

    16 cores and a single channel memory controller??? Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, February 23, 2017 - link

    It seems like an artificial performance limitation to keep the C3000 series out of memory bandwidth intensive workloads so potential customers need to utilize higher margin parts. It could also be the second memory channel was the victim of cost cutting to keep the price down. Maybe a little of both and other unknown factors too. Reply
  • Colin1497 - Thursday, February 23, 2017 - link

    Another factor might be that the target markets are markets where cost will keep memory single channel anyway. Recall earlier articles on AMD making devices with dual channel controllers that weren't utilized by their customers. If you know that your customers are going to target cheap, make cheap. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, February 23, 2017 - link

    That's certainly possible. On the consumer side, the Bay Trail Atom was capable of dual channel and I don't think there were many OEMs (none I can think of off the top of my head) that opted to actually give the chip more than a single channel. Reply
  • ddriver - Thursday, February 23, 2017 - link

    Memory bandwidth will only be a limiting factor in number streaming and crunching. The atom is not designed for that.

    Them are logic cores. They could do some processing, for example video streaming and such, but those will not be limited by the memory, as video is streamed from storage.

    Neither bandwidth, much less actual performance scale anywhere nearly linear by the addition of additional MC channels. Quad channel memory will only get you around 50% extra compared to single channel, rather than 400% you might expect.

    In short, the the single channel MC will not be detrimental 99% of the time, in the market niche this product is aiming for. It would have been wasted die space and power for no tangible benefit.
    Reply
  • evanrich - Saturday, February 25, 2017 - link

    Yeah because everyone's NAS/switch/router/firewall needs Octachannel memory andd DDR9 support right? Reply
  • andychow - Sunday, February 26, 2017 - link

    That's actually a good point. ZFS is very memory intensive. That said, the C3338 only has two cores, not 16. Perhaps the 16 core version will feature more than a single channel memory controller, but I doubt it. Reply
  • pattycake0147 - Thursday, February 23, 2017 - link

    Four integrated 10GbE!? Looking forward to seeing designs that implement this. Been waiting on a NAS with 10GbE because prices are too high. Maybe integration will bring them down. Reply
  • milkywayer - Thursday, February 23, 2017 - link

    Can anyone explain how well are these extra cores utilized for using the NAS as a media server?

    I currently have an i7 6850K (6 core/12T) in my Media Server because Plex would still buffer some times during transcoding on the previous CPU with high bandwidth Media (mostly 1080p rips). This new CPU is much better for streaming stuff to my Chromecast on TV but I've a feeling my solution of throwing more money and buying the faster processor for Plex alone wasn't the most optimal solution.

    What kind of Nas/media servers do you guys use for streaming stuff to TV via Chromecast and does everyone use Plex for this?
    Reply
  • mjeffer - Thursday, February 23, 2017 - link

    As long as you're not doing 4K transcoding I would imagine these would be ok, so long as you account one core for each stream that's transcoding. But I wouldn't trust it completely to never slow down. These aren't focused on single threaded performance but rather being able to serve multiple simultaneous connections that don't use much CPU.
    Reply

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