Intel officials say that with technologies like virtualization and computing models like cloud computing gaining steam in the data center, demand is growing for servers that are small, relatively cheap and energy-efficient. Intel is looking to create a new category of "microservers" to address this space, and has created a reference architecture for such systems.
is looking to create a new category in the server space: the "microserver."
During his keynote address at the Intel Developer Forum here Sept. 22, Sean
Maloney, newly installed executive vice president and general manager of the
chip maker's Intel Architecture Group, unveiled two low-power new versions of
its Xeon 3400 line, a 45-watt model that will roll out later this year and a
30-watt chip that will come out in the first quarter of 2010.
Maloney also expanded on other plans Intel has for its server offerings,
from the high-end Itanium processors to a collection of Xeons with varying
degrees of graphics capabilities.
The microserver space will grow in importance as businesses continue to
adopt such computing models as cloud computing and technologies like
virtualization, driving demand for smaller servers that are relatively cheap
and consume low amounts of power.
Up to 25 percent of a company's IT budget is eaten up by power costs,
Maloney said. In addition, he said that by 2012, about a quarter of all servers
will be used in a cloud environment.
He pointed to SGI's CloudRack X2
enclosure, announced in August, as an example of a microserver architecture.
Maloney also showed an Intel-developed microserver-a reference design-that can
put 16 modules in a 5U (8.75-inch) enclosure.
Andy Bechtolsheim, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and more recently the
founder of Arista Networks, came to the stage to talk about the need of such
system designs, particularly given the demand for greater scalability.
"The infrastructure that goes into the data center has to be as
cost-efficient and power-efficient as possible," Bechtolsheim said.
He pointed to the work at Arista on 10 Gigabit Ethernet as evidence of the
rising demand being put on data centers and networks. Shipments of 10GbE
products are expected to double every year into at least 2012, he said.
Maloney also brought up "Jasper
a 45-nm "Nehalem" processor aimed at the embedded, storage and
communications sectors. Intel officials are looking to use Jasper
Forest as a way of growing the
reach of the Nehalem architecture into a space that Intel officials say was
worth $1 billion in revenue to the company in 2008.
To bring the architecture to the embedded space, Intel engineers integrated
virtualization capabilities, PCI Express 2.0 and RAID 6 onto a Nehalem-based
Maloney also said that despite delays, Itanium remains an important part of
Intel's server game plan. The next version of Itanium-dubbed "Tukwila"-has
at least twice and is now due in the first quarter of 2010.
He also said that Intel already has plans for two versions after Tukwila.
In the client space, Maloney showed off "Larrabee," which brings greater
graphics capabilities to the Xeon family. Intel officials said the first
Larrabee chip will offer a discrete graphics chip, though that will be followed
by tighter integration of the CPU and graphics.
Larrabee will first appear in the first quarter of 2010 with Intel's
"Gulftown" chip, a six-core processor. "Clarkdale" will follow, and will
include a tighter bond between the CPU and graphics chip, which will be on the