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Intel Launches Xeon Chips for Edge Computing

Packs performance into a small-package, low-power Xeon SoC in a bid for the edge data center market.

Intel is taking its Xeon processor family to the edge with this week's introduction of Xeon D-2100, a system-on-chip (SoC) processor designed to meet the needs of edge applications as well as data center and network applications constrained by space and power. The reasoning behind the new edge computing line is simple: The internet is rapidly making moves to the edge to accommodate a wide range of connected devices, and with the advent of 5G that move is only going to accelerate. Intel intends for its processors to be part of the action.

"As data-driven services are becoming more pervasive and complex, they require more compute and intelligence closer to consumer and commercial 'endpoint' devices that are both generating and acting on data at the 'edge' (e.g. smart phones, IOT sensors and autonomous cars)," Jennifer Huffstetler, VP and GM of of data center product management at Intel's data center group, said in a blog. "By expanding the capabilities of the data center outward to the network edge, solution providers can process more data closer to endpoint devices, reducing application latency and opening up a whole new world of potential services and experiences."


As you might expect, the new edge computing SoC comes with impressive performance specs. When compared to the previous-generation Intel Xeon D-1500, Intel offers benchmarks showing gains of up to 1.6x for general compute performance, 2.9x for network performance, and up to 2.8x storage performance. The D-2100 includes 4 to 18 "Skylake-server" generation Intel Xeon processor cores, and up to 512 GB of addressable memory.

The D-2100 also comes loaded with connectivity options. In addition to quad-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet, the SoC includes support for PCI Express 3.0, up to 16 SATA 3.0 ports, and up to four USB 3.0 ports.

The new SoC packs a considerable amount of hardwired security as well, with QuickAssist Technology providing up to 100 Gbps of built-in cryptography, decryption, and encryption acceleration. Intel also promises the chip will be supported by software updates to protect against the Spectre and Meltdown security vulnerabilities in processors made public earlier this year.

"To seize 5G and new cloud and network opportunities, service providers need to optimize their data center and edge infrastructures to meet the growing demands of bandwidth-hungry end users and their smart and connected devices," said Sandra Rivera, senior VP and GM of Intel's network platforms group, in a statement. "The Intel Xeon D-2100 processor allows service providers and enterprises to deliver the maximum amount of compute intelligence at the edge or web tier while expending the least power."

The low power consumption Intel is touting for D-2100 measures between 60 to 110 watts depending on options. Prices range from $213 for a quad-core to $2,407 for the eighteen-core model.

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