Intel Wants To Re-Architect Data Center Services

Intel is re-architecting the data center - with customized silicon opportunities, and new Atom and Xeon processor announcements.It's also creating custom rack designs for Rackspace Hosting and other customers.

John Rath

July 24, 2013

4 Min Read
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Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of the Datacenter and Connected Systems Group at Intel, discusses the company's vision for the data center at an event Monday. (Photo: Intel)

Intel (INTC) has set out to re-architect the data center, hoping to help data center operators keep pace with the massive growth of information technology and services. During a media event this week Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of the Datacenter and Connected Systems Group at Intel, set the stage for Intel's approach to re-architect the data center and journey through periods of transformation that are changing from network-centric to human-centric models. New Atom and Xeon processor announcements were also made.

With software defined infrastructure as the strategic foundation, Bryant explained plans for how Intel will invest in rack scale architecture, big data and high performance computing (HPC) technologies.

"Data centers are entering a new era of rapid service delivery," said Bryant. "Across network, storage and servers we continue to see significant opportunities for growth. In many cases, it requires a new approach to deliver the scale and efficiency required, and today we are unveiling the near and long-term actions to enable this transformation."

New Atom and Xeon processors

As a part of its software defined infrastructure strategy, Intel revealed new details for the forthcoming Intel Atom processor C2000 family, aimed for low-energy, high-density micro servers and storage (code named Avoton) and network devices (code named Rangeley). The 64-bit System on Chip (SoC) is the second generation of Atom processors and will feature up to eight cores with integrated Ethernet and support for up to 64GB of memory. The expected energy efficiency is up to four times that of the first generation of the Atom, with up to 7 times the performance. These chips are based on the Silvermont microarchitecture, announced in May. Intel has been sampling these processors to select partners since April and general availability is expected later this year.

With one family of processors announced, Intel follows its tick tock cadence of innovation and unveils the next processor generation. Third generation Atom processors will be based on Intel's forthcoming 14nm process technology and are scheduled for 2014. The Atom SoC, code named Denverton, will enable even higher density deployments. The 2014 Xeon E3 family SoC processor is code named Broadwell, and will also be 14nm. It will be built for processor and graphic-centric workloads such as online gaming and media transcoding.

In conjunction with 14nm Atom and Xeon additions Intel announced a new SoC designed from the ground up for the datacenter based on Intel's next-generation Broadwell microarchitecture that follows today's Haswell microarchitecture.

To empower data centers to become more agile and service-driven Intel addresses technology challenges with customized solutions for an ever-expanding set of diverse workloads that place varying degrees of demand on cpu, memory and i/o. The foundation of Intel's software defined infrastructure will take on severs, storage and networking to help take data centers from static to dynamic, and manual to automated. Acting as the catalyst for these bold transformations, Intel hopes to drive both traditional product lines and explore as many customization opportunities as possible.

Customized Silicon for Rackspace

During the media event Jason Waxman, vice president and general manager of Intel's Cloud Platforms Group talked about architecting cloud infrastructure for the future. Intel's Rack Scale Architecture (RSA), an advanced design promises to dramatically increase the utilization and flexibility of the datacenter to deliver new services.

To highlight a customer customization example Waxman brought Rackspace Hosting COO Mark Roenigk to the stage to discuss its integration story. Roenigk said Rackspace  it will deploy a new generation of rack designs as part of its hybrid cloud solutions aligned with Intel's Rack Scale Architecture vision. As the first commercial rack scale implementation, Rackspace will use the Open Compute Project rack design, powered by Intel Ethernet controllers and storage accelerated by Intel Solid State drives.

With a vast ecosystem of technology partners, Intel has a growing set of solutions, to match a spectrum of workloads in information technology. The first generation of Atom processors had 20 designs, and the new Atom C2000 family has over 50. Additional architected solutions Intel cited came from customized silicon for eBay and Facebook, Accelerators for F5, Vantrix and QuickFire networks, and extreme low power solutions for OVH and Savvis.

With the recently elected Brian Krzanich as CEO coming from Intel's technology and manufacturing group and the company continuing to invest billions in silicon manufacturing, Intel has a clear advantage in benefiting from silicon customization opportunities.

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