Intel Makes Its Case for Data Center Transformation
Intel also will increasingly leverage its massive manufacturing capabilities and its evolving SoC development methodology to create custom chips for individual big customers, Bryant said. Intel already has made custom chips for such big Web 2.0 companies as eBay and Facebook, said Jason Waxman, vice president and general manager of Intel's Cloud Platform Group, adding that organizations "are asking us for custom solutions." The SoC methodology—which integrates such features as I/O, security and memory onto the silicon—enables Intel to offer products that are more optimized for particular workloads, such as differentiating between systems that run more compute-intensive applications from those that need more networking capabilities. The methodology not only will enable Intel to better develop custom chips, but also to offer a wider range of capabilities in its product portfolios. In addition, Intel will continue to expand its reach within the data center. The company will grow its portfolios for storage and networks, look to play a significant role in the evolution of such movements as software-defined networking (SDN), and leverage such investments as its acquisitions of Fulcrum Systems and Cray's fabric technology to expand its networking capabilities.Bryant and Waxman also talked about the need for consistency across an organization's IT landscape, making the argument that an infrastructure built upon Intel technology—from the chips to the familiar development tools to the huge software ecosystems that are optimized for Intel products—makes more sense than introducing new architectures that require new or recompiled applications. It's an argument Intel executives have made when talking about ARM's planned efforts to make inroads into the data center. ARM officials have countered by noting the increased use of open-source technologies in data centers, and the strong partnerships it has with Linux operating system vendors and other companies in the open-source communities.
Intel will bring much of its muscle to its evolving Rack Scale Architecture, with racks that can run server modules powered by Xeon or Atom, and with those modules increasingly sharing resources from power and cooling to I/O, according to Waxman, who showed off prototype "trays" holding three Xeon modules and 30 Atom modules. Eventually, these racks will essentially offer pools of compute, storage and networking resources that can be accessed by applications as needed, he said.