Web transactions are about processing small user requests as quickly as possible, for which the fastest high-end processor is not needed, Potter said. Low-power processors have less overhead and provide sufficient performance to handle user requests.
"Usually it requires very little compute and it's about the network and storage latency and turning that request around as fast as possible," Potter said.
But it's early days for low-power processors, such as ARM-based chips and Intel's Atom. They have been proven for smartphones and other portable devices but are not yet mature platforms for servers.
ARM processors are currently only 32-bit, and 64-bit ARM chips aren't expected until about 2014. In the server space, 64-bit computing can be important depending on the applications, Potter said.
"It's not about 32- vs. 64-bit. It's also about ECC memory," Potter said. "All those things are going to matter in the future."
Servers can also address more memory and storage with 64-bit capabilities. ARM is including virtualization and more error correction features in its Armv8 architecture.
"It's really about the scale of these Web services. ... For what they need, we've really had to create a totally different architecture," Potter said. "The architecture will lend itself to the best available processor technology."
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