During Intel Corp,'s annual developer forum this week, company executives announced new technologies and partnerships aimed at transforming how people experience technology from the device to the cloud. The announcements included details on new data center product lines and the new Intel rack scale architecture, along with details on the forthcoming client processor family.
During her keynote, Diane Bryant, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the datacenter and connected systems group, underscored the importance of the data center in enabling personal computing experiences to deliver real-time information and services. She also outlined the steps Intel is taking to provide the hardware and software needed for data analytics to improve the capabilities of intelligent devices and data center infrastructure.
"People are increasingly demanding more from their devices through applications and services whether at home, at work or wherever they may be. Intel is delivering a powerful portfolio of hardware and software computing technologies from the device to the data center that can improve experiences and enable new services," said Ms. Bryant.
The head of Intel’s server business unit also revealed details on Intel's plans to develop a reference design for rack scale architecture that uses a suite of Intel technologies optimized for deployment as a full rack. Hyper-scale data centers run by companies that maintain thousands of servers and store vast amounts of data require continued advancements in rack designs that make it easier and more cost effective to deal with major growth in users, data and devices. Traditional rack systems are designed to handle a wide variety of application workloads and may not always achieve the highest efficiency under all hyper-scale usages. The reference design will help re-architect a rack level solution that is modular at the subsystem level (storage, CPU, memory, network) while providing the ability to provision and refresh or logically allocate resources based on application specific workload requirements. Benefits include increased flexibility, higher density and higher utilization leading to a lower total cost of ownership.
Intel sees the evolution of rack design happening in three phases:
- Physical Aggregation. All non-critical sheet metal removed and key components such as power supplies and fans taken out of individual servers and consolidated at the rack level. Savings are expected due to higher levels of efficiency and lower costs by reducing the number of fans and power supplies.
- Fabric Integration and Storage Virtualization. Disaggregate and separate out the storage from compute systems with direct attached storage, and achieve higher utilization through storage virtualization. The compute and network fabric is the key technology that is enabling disaggregation of storage without impact to performance. Intel Silicon Photonics interconnects will enable higher speed connections between various computing resources within the rack, thus enabling the eventual disaggregation of server, memory, network and storage within the rack.
- Future. Ultimately, the industry will move to subsystem disaggregation where processing, memory and I/O will be completely separated into modular subsystems, making it possible to easily upgrade these subsystems rather than doing a complete system upgrade.
Benefits of rack scale architecture include increased flexibility, higher density and higher utilization leading to a lower total cost of ownership. Based on the needs of cloud service providers and large hyper-scale data centers, Intel is developing a reference design that utilizes Intel technologies and allows a range of solutions for OEM providers to develop and deliver racks. Intel rack scale architecture will include a suite of innovative technologies such as: Intel’s leading Xeon and Intel Atom SoCs for servers, storage, and networking; Intel Ethernet switch silicon for distributed input/output; and Intel’s new photonic architecture, based on high-bandwidth, Intel silicon photonics technology. Silicon photonics technology will enable fewer cables, increased bandwidth, farther reach and extreme power efficiency compared to todays copper-based interconnects. Intel demonstrated a mechanical prototype of this new rack architecture earlier this year and will publish a complete reference architecture optimized for deployment as a full rack to make it easy for system builders and customers to adopt.
One implementation of Intel’s rack scale reference architecture is already taking place in China, as Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent and China Telecom are collaborating with Intel on Project Scorpio, an initiative that will deliver a physical aggregated rack consisting of the fan and power supplies in six zones within the rack, with the goal of demonstrating TCO savings.
Additional information on these announcements as well as the new Intel Atom processor S12x9 product family for storage servers, Intel Xeon processor E3v3 product family (Haswell), Intel Xeon processor E7v2 product family (Ivy Bridge-EX) and Intel Atom processor for communication and networking devices codenamed "Rangeley" is available in the news fact sheet.
Ms. Bryant outlined plans to accelerate the expansion of Intel's offerings across the data center processor product lines based on its innovative 22nm manufacturing technology before the end of the year, thereby enabling a more cost-effective and efficient data center infrastructure. Intel's broad portfolio of data center intellectual property enables Intel to quickly integrate features into new products and bring them to market. For example, Intel is launching the new Intel® Atom™ S12x9 processor family customized for storage today, just four months after the debut of the Intel Atom S1200 processor for micro-servers.
Intel plans to deliver two more Intel Atom processor-based products this year that promise to deliver new architectures, improved performance-per-watt and an expanded feature set. Bryant demonstrated for the first time the next-generation Intel Atom processor family for micro-servers, code-named “Avoton”, and confirmed it is currently shipping samples to customers for evaluation. Avoton will feature an integrated Ethernet controller and is expected to deliver industry-leading energy efficiency and performance-per-watt for micro-servers and scale out workloads.