Intel Targets Networking, Storage With New Xeon D SoCs

The chip maker also is rolling out new Ethernet controllers as its looks to grow its presence in cloud data center infrastructures.

data center

Intel is adding new chips to its family of low-power Xeon D processors and new Ethernet controllers as it puts a greater focus on networking and storage systems in the data center.

Telecommunications companies already are under pressure to create more scalable and agile communications networking infrastructures to handle the demand for more services from an increasingly mobile and cloud-based world, according to Intel officials. Add in the tens of billions of connected devices—from smartphones and tablets to cars, industrial systems and homes appliances—that are coming online over the next years as the Internet of things (IoT) grows, and communications service providers are being swamped by the growth in networking and storage needs.

The giant chip maker on Nov. 9 unveiled eight new Xeon D systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) and two new Ethernet controllers that officials said will improve the performance and memory and lower the latency in their networks.

In addition, the company noted that its two-year-old Intel Network Builders program continues to grow, with more than 180 companies now members. The vendor launched the program in an effort to accelerate the adoption and development of software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) in service provider and enterprise data centers. Intel officials said the company is working with Red Hat to develop new offerings for NFV and SDN that are highly integrated and interoperable.

The work with Red Hat is part of the effort around network transformation, which is less of an end goal and more a journey, according to Renu Navale, director of the Network Builders program.

"It is the collective effort of the industry ecosystem to move the network infrastructure towards a state that is agile, flexible, reliable, optimized, and full of rich services that can be easily deployed to the consumers," Navale wrote in a post on the company blog, adding that after working with partners and service providers, "we realized our transformation journey requires additional pillars in the form of optimizations for carriers, integration to pull pieces of the use cases together, and interoperable solutions. These pillars address key barriers to deployment and provide end-to-end solutions to service providers."

The news coming out of the company is part of a larger effort at Intel to grow its presence in the data center beyond servers and into others areas, including networking and storage. Intel earlier this year rolled out the first of the Atom-based Xeon D SoCs that were aimed at hyperscale data centers and were seen as an answer to the threat of ARM-based chips being developed by the likes of Applied Micro, Cavium, Qualcomm and Advanced Micro Devices for low-power servers.

Now Intel is expanding the family to include networking and storage.

"Networks are facing extraordinary demands as more devices become connected and new digital services are offered," Sandra Rivera, vice president of Intel's Data Center Group and general manager of the company's Network Platforms Group. "Building intelligence throughout the communications infrastructure and using a standards-based approach offers service providers the foundation to build agile, cloud-ready networks that allow them to expand their services capabilities."

The Xeon D-1500 products offer more performance and energy efficiency and twice the maximum memory of previous SoCs, and are optimized for dense environments n networking, cloud and enterprise storage, and IoT applications. Officials said that more than 50 vendors are building systems using the Xeon D-1500 chips.

The chip maker's new Ethernet Multi-host Controller FM10000 lineup brings together Ethernet and switch technologies that can be used in dense server platforms and high performance communications networking applications, they said. The offer up to 200 Gb/s of connectivity and multiple 100 Gigabit Ethernet ports to help speed network traffic within and between servers. The company's Ethernet Controller X550, providing 10GbE connectivity, is aimed at data center servers and networking appliances.