Intel Looks to Drive Cloud Adoption with New Xeon Server Chips

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2016-03-31 Print this article Print
Intel chip

The new SSDs—the DC P3320 and P3520 Series for scale-out environments—are optimized for the Xeon E5-2660 v4 chips and are the first SSDs from Intel to use the high-density 3D NAND technology for more efficient and dense storage. The P3320 offers up to five times the performance than SATA-based SSDs. In addition, Intel's D3700 and D3600 Series SSDs—for scale-up infrastructures—are the company's first to include dual-port PCIe using the Non-Volatile memory Express (NVMe) protocol. The D3700 SSDs offer up to six times the performance of current dual-port SAS offerings.

"We've essentially stripped out as much latency for the storage stack that you possibly can," Greg Matson, director of data center product marketing and strategic planning for Intel's NVM Solutions Group, said during the workshop earlier this month.

An array of server makers—including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Dell, Lenovo and Supermicro—are offering new and enhanced systems based on the Xeon E5-2660 v4 chips.

Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy, said the performance and efficiency gains in the new chips are impressive. However, what is even more impressive is Intel's efforts to build broad ecosystems around its architecture through efforts like Cloud Builders and the new Storage Builders groups, Moorhead told eWEEK. Intel dominates the server space, with more than 90 percent of the market. However, particularly in the cloud space, other competitors are trying to gain more traction, including IBM's OpenPower effort and ARM chip makers like Qualcomm, which is developing a 24-core system-on-a-chip (SoC) and appears to be getting the support of Google.

Developing ecosystems around the Intel Architecture not only will bring more support, but also give Intel another weapon as it pushes back against rivals.

"Competitively, it gives you an advantage even if someone comes out with a better widget," Moorhead said. "They've built an ecosystem that's going to be hard for someone else to keep up with."

In addition, Intel is aggressively building out its capabilities in the data center beyond the processors themselves and into everything from memory, storage and networking to accelerators like GPUs and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).

"This is a platform play that we're seeing," the analyst said. "It's very smart."

The ecosystem efforts include collaborating with CoreOS and Mirantis to use open-source technologies for container orchestration and VM-based applications, and with VMware to create a network of Centers of Excellence to accelerate cloud deployments. With the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Intel is building what officials are calling the world's largest testing cluster—with more than 1,000 Xeon-based server nodes—for cloud apps. In addition, the company is expanding its Cloud Builders program to include use cases around SDI.

The new Storage Builders group is designed to help develop and promote next-generation storage technologies for the cloud. Intel has more than 300 members in its cloud, storage and networking builders programs.

The Storage Builder group will create "a collaborative environment that will make it easier to innovate, build, and operate next-generation storage solutions for enterprises, cloud service providers, and communication service providers," Andrea Nelson, director of product market at Intel, wrote in a post on the company blog. "The program will act a central source of information on next-generation solutions that meet a variety of storage use cases."


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