IDF Fall 2005. Day 2

In this article written fresh from the IDF Fall 2005 we will be talking mostly about the enterprise and server environment. Intel’s detailed Server and Workstation roadmap, Active Management Technology and Virtualization Technology, new Bensley platform and more!

by Anna Filatova
08/24/2005 | 04:58 PM

The today’s keynote presentation started with the speech by the legendary Pat Gelsinger, Senior Vice president and General Manager of Intel Digital Enterprise Group, the grandfather and god father of the IDF, as they called him, because this was his 16th time on stage at IDF. Well, it looks like he didn’t feel quite like a grandfather yet, but didn’t comment on the “god father” title. Not a bad thing to be one, eh? :)


As always, Pat started off with great excitement. He said that he just loved IDF, the technology, the people, the passion of the show, the energy we all have here. And by the end of the keynote I think everyone there shared the speaker’s mood, because there were quite a lot of things to be excited about. Last spring Pat Gelsinger introduced the digital enterprise group and Intel’s mission within this rapidly developing segment. You can turn to our Spring IDF coverages to refresh your memory about the aims Intel set for themselves in those days. But I can actually say that the major goals in the enterprise segment remained pretty much the same:

Yesterday Paul Otellini described Intel’s strategy and technologies aimed at improving connectivity, by offering more efficient technological solutions, so that Intel and their partners could better satisfy the customer demand and meet the customer needs. Today Pat Gelsinger unleashed what has been done in the remaining three directions.

Embedded IT: AMT 2 and Intel VT

Intel Active Management

As we have already said today and yesterday, the maintenance costs in the enterprise segment are very high. Something needs to be done to reduce these costs, as they are eating up too much of the funds that could be thrown into further growth and development of the segment. In spring Intel introduced a hardware based approach in bringing new Embedded IT capabilities into the platforms. These capabilities could actually be brought by simply “stuffing a little bit of the IT manager into the silicon”, figuratively speaking.

In this respect AMTActive Management Technology – from Intel received a lot of enthusiasm in the industry. Mane companies have committed to it and announced their support of Intel AMT.

These are just a few names, there are much more onboard already, and many companies are about to start shipping their solutions this year. With their solutions, they will provide both: incredible software and hardware support. With this diverse support on the partner side Intel is enabling and delivering the 1st generation of Embedded IT in the industry.

According to Intel, these global IT outsourcers have embraced AMT and are now delivering it to over 5 million computers of their customers.

AMT is one of the key technologies used to guarantee more efficient resolution of the security issues for the industry. Here Intel and Cisco presented new tools that can now help solve these problems. During the illustrative demonstration of the threats that can occur within your corporate network, where everybody is doing pretty much anything, we could see how the AMT technology works.

This is a schematic representation of the network components interacting with one another, including Intel Active Management Technology and Cisco units. With these new components involved into the network functioning process, the communication between the network agents becomes much more automated. And we could see in real time how the system fixed itself having detected a threat without any human activity getting involved. This fundamentally new capability for the industry jointly developed by Intel and Cisco should become available by the end of this year.

In addition to security issues there is one more thing the IT management is strongly concerned about. It is stability. Intel Stable Image Program has been extremely successful. However, they didn’t want to give up high performance for the sake of increasing the stability. Their customers wanted to keep both: the best capabilities from the performance prospective and high stability of the system operation. This is when Intel announced Intel Professional Business Platform 2006 initiative, which will include support for dual-core architecture, AMT 2 and Intel Virtualization Technology. The equivalent of this initiative will also be available for the mobile platform.

This was a look at Embedded IT capabilities from the client’s viewpoint. Now lets look at the sever usage model for Embedded IT.

Intel Virtualization Technology

Besides AMT itself, Intel also expanded the Embedded IT capability by using the Virtualization Technology (VT), which should guarantee a better and more secure connection within a corporate network environment.

With the VT technology Intel has more opportunities. Namely, Intel virtualizes the network connection and assigns a virtual NIC driver to the user operating system. The actual NIC stays secured in its own virtual OS, so that the overall level of security improves significantly.

Virtualization technology allows you to run multiple operating systems on the server. By doing this you create a new level of flexibility and robustness for the IT manager. Intel announced today that they will have VT support included into Microsoft Virtual Server Software package.

To demonstrate the advantages of a virtual server Intel showed a set of virtual machines with VT enabled. Then those machines had to be migrated onto a single piece of hardware. How did it work? With the new VT technology support the OS application environment was first encapsulated and then securely moved to a new physical location. In this case it didn’t take much time and effort, no software reinstallation was necessary: just click and go, just as if you were simply moving files and not entire enterprise environments!

Another acute example is a data center type of environment, where there are a lot of legacy applications running in a particular application environment. These applications can be consolidated using virtualization technologies. In this respect Intel today announced a new ESX product line (software tools) from VMWare that will deal with consolidation of the independent OS partitions. The best example could be a physical server running three different types of operating systems on three virtual partitions: In our case one was running Windows NT, another one - Oracle, and the third one - Windows Server 2003 64bit Enterprise Edition. Pat forced a crash of one of the operating systems on this server, so that we got a typical blue screen, however, the systems running within the remaining two partitions didn’t get affected in any way. This is how the reliability and stability of the physical enterprise system is guaranteed with the help of Intel VT technology.

We have seen quite a few advantages brought to us by the Intel Virtualization technology. In fact it is going to be incorporated not only in the enterprise server environment, but also in the desktop and mobile segments. Here is what Intel’s plans to support VT technology look like today:

So far, VT technology has only been implemented on the software level. However, it already gives us great opportunities to build more robust machine without any additional complexity involved.

Seamless Collaboration: VoIP Innovations

One of the biggest challenges for the enterprise segment is working across time and distance. Therefore the goal is to find the optimal way to bridge time and distance for users. Since there is the goal Intel has already suggested a solution. At least one of the solutions: the first technology here – Voice over IP.

Voice technologies are not that new anymore: we have been working with voice and voice processing for quite a while now. But how much better have the voice processing technologies become over the past years? This is exactly what Intel’s VoIP is about. It is not just about doing voice, it is about doing better voice.

Right now Intel VoIP supports a significantly expanded frequency range: from 80Hz to 8,000Hz. Besides they have also established the so-called Business Class Audio, which implies higher quality. Right now Intel is working to make business class audio reality.

And they get a lot of support: there are over 1,100 VoIP providers in the US already. SKYPE alone, for instance, represents over 46% of overall minutes over the globe today.

Information Assistance: Higher Performance with Multi-Core

Corporations are dealing with a lot of data. Business intelligence is becoming more critical so we need to have highly scalable solutions. And all of that requires performance. Multi-core is a better way to improve performance. And this is what Intel will be working on during the next 5 years. They already have 15+ dual-core products on the way and 10+ quad-core projects. So, as you may see, multi-core architecture is going to be a major shift.

One of the critical challenges in making this transition to dual-core, quad-core and beyond is to revise the ways software developers design their products. Intel pays special attention to this and is investing heavily into the development of appropriate software tools, libraries, etc. Among Intel’s customers in software and tool development are such big names as IBM, Oracle, Symantec, and others. Here are the tools that Intel offers:

Intel Server and Workstation Roadmap

As we can see from the Intel roadmap, there will be quite a few new platforms emerging within the next year or so. Let’s take a closer look at some of them now.

Right now Intel is offering a few pretty successful platforms based around the single-core solutions that have already stood the test of time and have already proven very successful. These are the single-core platforms aka Lindenhurst and Truland. Here are their brief specifications:

However, although these platforms are still very successful, there is enough demand for faster and more optimal performing solutions already. Today it is the right time to start actively delivering dual-core into industry’s standard platforms. We could clearly see it from the demo when we had three systems running side by side. One was based around Irwindale (this is a dual-core CPU with Hyper-Threading technology supported, so there are 4 threads of operation working simultaneously), the second one was built on Paxville DP (2 dual-core CPUs with HT support resulted into 8 threads), and the last one was based on Paxville MP (4 dual-core CPUs with HT technology enabled resulted into 16 active threads). And the performance difference between the three was more than evident.

With the time the current Truland platform running with the Paxville MP will be upgraded to Tulsa featuring large L3 cache, which will be even faster.

Lindenhurst platform will be upgraded to Bensley in the beginning of 2006. The schematic flow chart below shows the major improvements introduced in Bensley platform compared with the Lindehurst.

Bensley will be built around the Blackford chipset, which will allow transferring data at 17GB/s along the bus between the chipset and the CPUs, at the same 17GB/s between the chipset and the memory and will support up to 64GB of RAM due to highly scalable memory architecture with FB-DIMM technology. Of course, this platform will support Intel Active Management Technology and Intel Virtualization Technology.

As for the CPUs, the Bensley platform will support dual-core processors manufactured with 65nm technology, aka Woodcrest and Dempsey. Both of them were demonstrated during the keynote this morning.

Blackford mainboard with 32GB of Micron Fully Buffered memory

Bensley based system on Woodcrest CPU

As for the power optimized DP solutions, Intel will be offering Sossaman processor that should find application in data centers requiring high computing density, low thermal characteristics and power consumption, as most of the currently existing data centers are aging and have fixed amount of cooling, power, and other resources.

Sossaman processor will be available in thermal envelopes of 15W and 30W. During the presentation we could see a demo system with Sossaman in ATCA form-factor. According to Intel, they will also deliver Sossaman in 1U rack mount servers.

One more processor family I would like to mention while speaking about Intel server roadmap is certainly Itanium. These processors offer high performance, excellent reliability and scalability, as well as flexibility of choice. Intel confirmed these highlighted advantages of the Itanium solutions and namely Montecito based ones by comparing their performance and performance per watt against IBM Power processors. According to Intel, these machines are built to never go down in the lifetime and they allow building larger AMP systems, i.e. offer better scalability.

Diagrams are good, but the actual proof of the pudding is in the eating, so it really does matter that 43 of the world’s 100 largest corporations run Itanium 2 processor based servers. Besides, there has appeared unprecedented amount of support on the software side, such as OS’s and applications: since last year, the number of applications for this type of systems has doubled.