Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Cisco Systems are among the OEMs that will be rolling out new systems Sept. 8 when Intel officials introduce the latest generation of its mainstream Xeon E5-2600 server chips.
Intel will be officially unveiling the new processors—which officials said will offer significant improvements in performance and power efficiency—at a press event the day before its Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco. A broad range of system makers are expected to be on hand at the event in San Francisco to talk about their servers that will leverage the new chips.
At the same time, the OEMs will unveil other enhancements beyond the processor upgrade—in such areas as power and cooling management—designed to make their systems better able to address the changing demands being put on data center infrastructures by such trends as mobile computing, big data and the cloud. In addition, they want to take advantage of the optimization Intel is offering in the Xeon E5-2600 v3 “Grantley” processors in areas in the data center beyond the servers.
“They’re using this as an opportunity to not only completely refresh their server systems, but also their storage and networking,” Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy, told eWEEK.
Bringing innovative technologies to the systems will be important not only as workloads change, but also as competition from white-box makers increase. Gartner analysts in a Sept. 3 report said that server original design manufacturers (ODMs) are now directly courting enterprises and organizations that run hyperscale data centers, and as a result, sales of servers by ODMs directly to customers will represent 16 percent of global x86 server shipments by 2018 and will generate $4.6 billion in revenue.
“ODM companies are rapidly changing their business model, as they are directly targeting hyperscale customers,” Naveen Mishra, research director at Gartner, said in a statement. “These companies are expanding their business scope to also include enterprises in the near term. These customers are willing to consider innovative [data center] infrastructure designs that can offer better scalability and can drastically reduce the total cost of ownership of servers (including power and cooling expense) compared with mainstream servers offered by traditional server OEMs.”
The new Grantley chips will be based on Intel’s “Haswell” architecture, and will offer such features as DDR4 memory—which will bring faster speeds, more bandwidth and greater energy efficiency—as many as 18 cores, and technologies that will improve virtualization support, power efficiency and management, increase performance, and help expand the Intel Architecture into networking and storage.
Officials with HP and Cisco already have given the industry some indication of what they are doing with the servers that will be powered by the new Intel chips. In a Webcast event Aug. 28, company executives introduced HP’s upcoming ninth-generation ProLiant servers that they said will offer three times the compute capacity of previous ProLiants, greater efficiency in processing multiple workloads, infrastructure provisioning that is 66 times faster and better total cost of ownership (TCO).
The ProLiant Gen 9 servers will bring three times the performance-per-watt capabilities of previous generations, require 60 percent less space and lower storage acquisition costs by 80 percent, officials said. In addition, in combination with HP’s storage, memory and networking capabilities, workload performance of business-critical applications will be improved by four times, according to the company.
Dell, Lenovo Among OEMs Launching Intel ‘Grantley’-Based Servers
The new systems will be combined a range of new capabilities with other HP products, such as OneView—which gives organizations a single tool for managing all of their data center systems—to help organizations create a pool of compute, networking and storage resources that can be dynamically drawn upon to address whatever workloads demand.
“As it has done previously, HP is using the shift to a new generation of silicon to rethink its platforms, from lower-end tower and rack servers to blades and converged systems to emerging solutions like Apollo and Moonshot,” Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT Research, told eWEEK at the time of the HP announcement. “One of the most interesting things about these new solutions is how wholly their new features rest on HP’s proprietary technologies, particularly new networking and storage features, and management software offerings.”
Cisco officials Sept. 4 unveiled an expanded portfolio for its Unified Computing System converged infrastructure solutions, which included refreshed B-Series blade and C-Series rack systems that will be powered by the Grantley chips.
Dell is introducing its 13th generation of PowerEdge servers that will not only feature the new Intel chips, but also storage enhancements that bring storage closer to the compute and enabling software-defined storage and new management capabilities that reduce complexity, improve TCO, and speed up configuration and deployment. The new PowerEdge systems will offer hot-plug solid-state disks (SSDs), faster 1.8-inch SATA drives, increased local storage capacity, and high-performance RAID and performance caching. For organizations, the improvements will mean faster database processing, more concurrent users and transactions, double the data throughput of previous systems and optimized data placement through tiering.
The systems also offer zero-touch configuration capabilities, which can reduce configuration time by as much as 99 percent; automated server firmware updates; and automated technical support for 45 percent less boot time and 73 percent less troubleshooting time, according to Dell officials. In addition, Dell is leveraging near-field communications (NFC) to make server inventory and setup faster—84 percent faster for inventorying, for example. Through Dell’s OpenManage mobile app and iDRAC QuickSync technology, customers will be able to simply tap a server with their tablet, and the information for the server—from the operating system to the BIOS—will automatically be pulled into the server, Kevin Noreen, marketing director of server solutions for Dell, told eWEEK.
With iDRAC Direct, organizations can put a USB key into the USB port and rapidly configure a server, reducing configure setup time by as much as 95 percent, according to the company. Dell’s OpenManage Essentials 2.0 software offers automated lifecycle management that offers a one-to-many console that will capture and clone server configurations, and creates instant checks for configuration compliance.
Brian Payne, Dell’s executive director of PowerEdge servers, said servers need to be more agile to deal with both traditional and new data center workloads, which Dell is addressing with its new PowerEdge systems. For example, the new dual-socket, 2U (1.75-inch) R730xd rack server is designed for scale-out architectures, big data workloads, cloud environments and software-defined data centers, while the R730 mainstream system can be used for such jobs as cloud, virtualization and high-performance computing (HPC).
Dell, Lenovo Among OEMs Launching Intel ‘Grantley’-Based Servers
In all, Dell is rolling out three rack systems (including the R630), a tower server (T630) and a blade (M630).
For its part, Lenovo is launching two rack ThinkServers—the RD550 and RD650—and the TD350 tower system that officials said offer high levels of performance, flexibility and reliability in small packages that are also more energy efficient than their predecessors, all important factors when talking about the growing amount of data being generated and the increasing numbers of devices people are using to create and access that data.
“We know our customers are always looking for ways to do more with less, and they’re always dealing with shrinking budgets,” Nancy Reaves, senior product manager at Lenovo, told eWEEK.
The new systems come as Lenovo is in the process of buying IBM’s x86 server business for $2.3 billion, a deal that recently received U.S. approval and is expected to close by the end of the year. Reaves said the systems will fit in well with those from IBM. “We see our portfolios as very complementary,” she said.
The rack systems are designed with drive trays, chassis and system boards that are designed to enable them to do more work in less space through greater storage density and more I/O connectivity in standard 1U (1.75-inch) and 2U form factors. With the designs, the 1U RD550 can hold up to 12 drive bays and up to 26.4 terabytes of internal storage, numbers that are equal to what customers will find in most 2U systems, according to Lenovo officials. Meanwhile, the RD650 holds up to 26 drive bays and up to 74.4TB of internal storage. While the RD550 is aimed at enterprise applications and compute-intensive workloads, the larger system targets storage-demanding applications, including databases, data analytics and video streaming.
Both servers also offer hybrid chassis configurations that hold both 2.5- and 3.5-inch drives for tiered environments, and also allow for the option of two M.2 SSDs.
In addition, Lenovo is offering its new AnyFabric, AnyBay and AnyRAID technologies that support multiple combinations of I/O technologies (AnyFabric) and storage types (AnyBay) in the same drive bay. In addition, the systems offer the AnyRAID adapters that will improve data protection and performance without taking any PCI-Express slots.
The 4U (7-inch) TD350, which is aimed at smaller and midsize businesses, offers up to two of the new Intel chips, and brings almost triple the memory capacity and double the storage capacity of its predecessors, with up to 512GB of DDR4 memory and 90TB of internal storage.
The systems also feature power efficiency capabilities that enable them to continuously run at 113 degrees Fahrenheit without impacting reliability, which will help businesses drive down cooling costs and increase server utilization. Plus, they come with such management features as configuration and deployments tools embedded in the system, energy management and power planning.