Rapid Data Center Evolution Forces Chip Makers to Adopt New Strategies
Intel, AMD and ARM are looking to address new workloads fueled by such trends as cloud computing, mobility, big data and social networks.Andrew Feldman, corporate vice president and general manager of Advanced Micro Devices' Server Business Unit, likes to show a couple of photos to illustrate how rapid and widespread the adoption of mobile devices and cloud computing has been. The first photo shows the crowd at the papal inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. Except for the random cell phone here and there, there is essentially no evidence of a mobile device in the crowd. Fast forward to 2013 and the inauguration of Pope Francis and practically every person is holding up a smartphone or tablet, the bright bluish-white of the screens decorating the top of the crowd. All those mobile devices are pulling down data and running apps that are housed in servers and accessed via the cloud, putting tremendous pressure on data center infrastructures. While the photos give a view of what's happening on the client side, it's what those trends toward mobility and cloud computing mean to the data center and to servers that is most interesting to Feldman. To him, the photos put in sharp relief the changing nature of data centers—workloads are becoming more highly parallel as data centers support millions of users and growing. Demand for denser, highly efficient servers is also increasing, which puts pressure on chip makers such as AMD and Intel to change with them.
"This new environment is going to have new needs," Feldman told eWEEK in an interview this spring, "and the same-old, same-old will not work anymore."