Intel Delivers New Pentium 350 Processor for Low-End Servers

The chip maker has repositioned its long-standing desktop and laptop Pentium processors to create 32-nm Pentium 350 chips for use in low-end servers. The newly designed dual-core processors will be based on Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture and have been reported to clock in at 1.2 GHz with 3MB of cache.

The revamped Pentium processors tout a low thermal design power (TDP) of 15 watts making them especially well suited for use in microservers, or low-power, compact servers leveraged by smaller or medium-sized businesses. Like most server chips, the Pentium 350 lacks an integrated graphics component.

The Pentium 350 is preceded in the server space by Intel's current go-to server chip, the Xeon E3. The chipmaker’s low-power Atom processors, typically used for netbooks and tablets, are also being used more and more in high-density servers.

While the Xeon line will continue to dominate the server space, the low TDP delivered with the Pentium 350 is a unique draw for customers, according to Intel spokesperson Radoslaw Walczyk.

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"We believe that these Intel Xeons are the optimal solution as they deliver best performance and performance per watt, as well as balance between horsepower and energy consumption for majority of workloads," Walczyk said. "However, selected customers may wish to design parts with lower power CPUs to achieve better density for very specific workloads. The new Pentium 350 is simply an additional product that may satisfy those needs. The key differentiator is the lower TDP – 15W."

PC World has speculated that the Pentium 350 processors may hint at a plan on Intel’s part to replace its lowest-end Celeron brand of chips, used most frequently within low-cost desktops and laptops and occasionally in low-end servers. While the chipmaker declined to comment whether Pentium 350 would in fact replace its Celeron brand, the prospect has already piqued the interest of Intel service providers. Lyle Epstein, president of Kortek Solutions, a Las Vegas-based VAR and service provider, said he would welcome Pentium 350 as a replacement.

"[Tjhe Pentium 350] is good because I am hoping it finally gets rid of the low-powered Celeron processor that we as IT people wish would just go away," Epstein said. "The new processor is designed on the Sandy Bridge Platform so it should produce some decent performance on very low-end servers."

Epstein also suggested Intel’s launch of the Pentium 350 series could be in response to growing competition in the server marketplace.

"I would guess they [Intel] released it to compete with the ARM processors that should be coming out soon for servers, along with Microsoft's support on Windows 8 of the ARM processor," he said. "This should make for another competitor in Intel's market segment."

Pricing details for the Pentium 350 series have not been disclosed yet by Intel.