Intel Atom Powers the Personal Cloud

By Pedro Hernandez | Posted October 05, 2012

Intel hopes to alleviate the storage challenges faced by small businesses with a networked storage platform -- codenamed "Milstead," -- based on the chipmaker's Atom D2550 and D2500 processors.

Once the king of the hill in mobile computing, the Atom processor has given way to ARM-based processors as exploding tablet and smartphone adoption have ended the netbook's short reign. But now, Intel's Atom processor is poised for a resurgence, of sorts.

Intel is positioning Atom as a powerful, energy-efficient and low-cost linchpin for network attached storage (NAS) systems with built-in intelligence. And the company has teamed with storage systems makers like Asustor, QNAP and Thecus -- with more to come -- for NAS hardware that can handle the growing data management demands placed on small business IT.

Small Business Storage Crunch

During a press call, David Tuhy, general manager of Intel Storage Group, described how businesses of all stripes, not just large enterprises, are struggling to store and manage skyrocketing amounts of data. Small and midsized businesses (SMBs), SOHOs and even consumers are sharing, generating and downloading more data than ever, says Tuhy.

In an era of rich content, HD video and mobile collaboration, work projects have grown from the sub-megabyte docs and spreadsheets of yesteryear to files that can take up hundreds of megabytes (MB) or even gigabytes (GB) of storage.

And increasingly, SMBs want to access that data on the go.

The Personal Cloud Processor?

Intel's technology enables what Tuhy calls the "personal cloud." With the processing power to handle built-in Web serving and storage management, Milstead NAS units allow remote users to securely access, store and share data. Additionally, cloud connectors can link the new NAS systems to popular cloud storage services for off-site data protection.

Essentially, says Tuhy, "you have ways of accessing that data anytime, anywhere." And according to Intel, the new Atom chips don't just help small businesses remotely access their data; they're powerhouse processors in their own right.

The company's energy-efficient processor now handles workloads that were once the purview of the company's Xeon server processors and high-performance desktop and laptop Pentiums, says Intel. These include software-based RAID, increased RAM support (up to 4 GB) and built-in acceleration for HD and surveillance video.

The Atom-powered storage platform features multiple OS support for cross-platform file sharing between Microsoft and Linux, for example. A Milstead system can accommodate four to six SATA hot-plug drives. Need more room? Intel says that with support for up to 14 USB ports, external drive expansion solutions give small businesses have plenty of room to grow.

On the data protection and security front, Intel's technology supports McAfee AV SDK and VirusScan -- Intel acquired McAfee in 2010 -- for built-in malware protection, an increasingly popular use of the processing power being built into NAS appliances. Centralized backup support of all devices also assures businesses that their data is protected.

Intel also targets a growing segment of the small business storage market, namely video surveillance. Systems with integrated display (and dual display) HDMI and/or VGA connections allow business owners to view multiple, HD security video streams without the expense and complexities of external systems.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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