The number of the day is 768.
That is the number of processor cores that SeaMicro has managed to cram into its latest server, boosting its compute-per-watt figure by 20 percent. The elegantly named SM 10000-64HD contains 384 dual-core Intel Atom processors and is the third server from SeaMicro. The last server from the company contained 512 cores, or 256 dual-core Atoms.
SeaMicro's servers consume less than 1/4th the power and take up far less space than conventional servers. Each server, technically speaking, is about the size of a credit card and hundreds of them are crammed into a boxes that fit into server racks.
"Power and space are over 75 percent of your operating expense," CEO Andrew Feldman told us earlier this year. "We've removed 90 percent of the components."
The size and power reductions are possible because of the changing nature of computing. In the past, vendors found it impossible to predict what sort of tasks their machines would be asked to tackle, so they made versatile, all-purpose machines. Now, most servers perform rote functions: serving up pictures of kittens or videos. (And you thought only your job was getting more boring.) As a result, SeaMicro can use an energy-efficient Atom chip, ordinarily used in phones, in its servers and not a power-hogging Xeon.
The other factor is a networking technology invented by SeaMicro. The Atom chips are all connected in a complex three-dimensional torus, a shape that's a cross between a donut and one of the segments of the Michelin Man. The torus allows signals to travel between different chips efficiently. IBM uses a torus in its supercomputers. Thus, although SeaMicro sells servers, it is really a networking company and if it gets bought -- a strong likelihood -- it could be the networking that is at the core of the transaction.
Data centers only consume around 2 percent of the world's power but customers (e.g., banks, internet companies) are terrified of rising power prices while the IT industry has honed the ability to move quick to capitalize on trends. Thus, IT will be one of the most active green markets over the next several years.
--Lowe's will offer the General Electric WattStation EV charger to customers. Lowe's wants to be your energy leader in the home. It also has deals with Sungevity and Westinghouse for solar and Recurve for efficiency retrofits. Lowe's, in fact, invested in both Recurve and Sungevity.
--Prices for rare earth minerals will continue to climb, says Molycorp, which wants to reopen a rare earth mine in California. Worldwide demand will come to 60,000 tons and China will export 30,000 tons, according to the company. China reduced exports by 40 percent last year and may curb exports even more this year. Rare earths are crucial ingredients in magnets for electric motors, wind turbines and other devices. Electric cars contain around 10 pounds of rare earths, a group of 17 elements. China's actions have caused Molycorp's stock to skyrocket because its Mountain Pass mine contains a large quantity of high grade ores. Chevron sold the mine to Molycorp for $80 million in 2008. Now the company is worth billions.
The sudden increase in wealth has allowed Molycorp to buy other companies and move from serving as a miner to a company that processes ores. It will also be part of a joint venture to manufacture magnets with Hitachi here in the U.S. Who says you can make stuff here anymore?
--Cellulosic ethanol and advanced fuels chug on. POET has won a $105 million loan guarantee to build a cellulosic ethanol plant. Cellulosic ethanol relies on wood waste rather than corn and the overall energy balance is expected to be far higher. Meanwhile, OPX Biotechnologies has raised $45 million. OPX wants to make fuel from carbon dioxide with a magic microbe.
--And happy birthday to John Glenn. The U.S. Senator turns 90 today. Back in the '50s, he orbited the globe under the name Ham the Space Chimp.
--Finally, here's a video of SeaMicro's servers: