New Oracle Exadata System Uses Custom Intel Xeon Chip
Intel is expanding its processor customization capabilities to address increasing demands from large end users—including online cloud businesses like Google and Facebook—for systems that are more optimized for their workloads. The giant chip maker already is expanding the number of versions of each chip it releases, but also is increasing the number of products it customizes for particular users. Intel officials last month announced a program in which the giant chip maker will offer customizable Xeon E5 processors that integrate field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology into the same package. FPGAs enable businesses to program the chips for one workload, and then reprogram them for another job. Such capabilities are needed in a changing compute environment, according to Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Center and Connected Systems Group. "Two significant changes are the move to software defined infrastructure (SDI) and the move to scale-out, distributed applications," Bryant wrote in a post on the company blog when announcing the FPGA program. "The speed of application development and deployment of new services is rapid. The infrastructure must keep pace. It must move from statically configured to dynamic, from manually operated to fully automated, and from fixed function to open standard."Intel's Goldman said the chip maker has been working with Oracle since the early 1990s on optimization projects. Oracle entered the hardware business after buying Sun Microsystems in 2010. The company has since focused much of its efforts on offering converged systems—what officials call engineered systems—aimed at particular workloads, such as Exadata for databases and Exalogic for clouds. According to numbers from IDC analysts, Oracle leads the integrated platforms space with 48 percent of the market.
She noted that last year Intel built 15 custom processors for particular customers, such as eBay and Facebook, and that there are more than twice as many products planned for 2014.