Intel Develops Server Platform for “Personal Cloud”

QNAP is just one company basing a system on Intel’s personal server reference design.

We’ve all heard of the “public cloud,” and the “private cloud.” Do we need a “personal cloud”? Intel thinks the answer to that question is yes.

Last week, Intel launched a personal server reference design based on the Intel Atom processor D2550 or the Intel Atom D2500. Asustor, QNAP, and Thecus are launching storage solutions on the new platform, with other companies apparently planning their own releases in the near future.

While Intel is formally announcing the platform, products based on the new specification were actually announced months ago. Slashgear, for example, evaluated the Asustor AS 6 at the Computex show in June. The QNAP TS-x69 and Thecus N5550 and N4800 have also been announced.

Intel is pitching the servers at both consumers and small businesses, aiming for a gap of sorts created by the Windows Home Server platform, which is being phased out after Windows Home Server 2011. (While Hewlett-Packard was one of the first to support WHS with dedicated hardware, it gave up the ghost long ago.) Intel touts the hardware’s ability to support multiple operating systems, serving as a shared device on the LAN. Additional features include RAID, scalable I/O, and a consumer-friendly (but still geeky) digital display.

“QNAP’s new HD Station, utilizing Intel Atom processor D2550 graphics capabilities, plays local and network media such as high-definition movies, home videos, pictures, and music—all with the comfort of a big size screen via HDMI connection and a remote control, smartphone or any wireless USB keyboard or mouse,” Jason Hsu, product manager of QNAP Systems Inc., wrote in a statement. “Turbo NAS showcases the potential of the graphics capability of the Intel Atom processor and how it can be applied for home entertainment.”

Intel also identified video surveillance as one possible use for the new server; businesses with video surveillance systems can attach up to two monitors to the Atom-based storage platform and view up to four camera feeds that feature HD-quality clarity.

The five-bay N5550 runs the ThecusOS (which has reached version 5.0) and includes the Atom chip, 2GB of RAM, HDMI support, VGA video and audio out, a USB 3.0 port, four USB 2.0 ports, and eSATA.

“Intel’s next-generation Atom processor provides an ideal solution for powering intelligent storage system designs that will act as a personal cloud inside the office or home, and will deliver better ways to store and access data,” David Tuhy, general manager of Intel’s Storage Division, wrote in a statement. “With a range of systems designers on board, the Intel Atom processor-based storage solution raises the bar in how data is stored, managed and shared.”