IDF 2014: Intel Launches Xeon Chips Aimed At Software-Defined Data Centre

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New Xeon E5 v3 family offers more ways to measure and tweak temperatre, power and utilisation of its 18 cores

Intel has launched a new Xeon product family designed to aid Software-Defined Infrastructure (SDI) deployments.

The Xeon E5v3 processors feature up to 18 cores and increase the number of sensors on the chip from three to 22, enabling much easier monitoring and management.

These are the first server CPUs from the company to support faster DDR4 memory.

Intel’s general manager of the Data centre Group Diane Bryant called the move to SDI “critical and inevitable” during a press event on the eve of the annual Intel Developers Forum (IDF) conference in San Francisco.

Sensory

Intel says that the new Xeon chips offer up to three times more performance than the previous generation silicon. Built on the 22nm process, they feature 45MB of last-level cache and are suitable for a wide variety of workloads – from analytics to High Performance Computing (HPC), telecommunications to the Internet of Things.

Intel-8341The Xeon E5 v3 family was designed with SDI environments in mind. The chips are highly configurable and offer extended telemetry via a large number of thermal, power and utilisation sensors, with all of the resulting data available through the Node Manager 3.0 firmware.

These processors offer a single architecture for compute, storage and networking, and include features for each of the three usage scenarios: for example, the enhanced Intelligent Storage Acceleration Library improves the performance of many storage-specific algorithms while the new version of the Data Plane development kit (1.7) improves packet processing and can eliminate the need for specialised hardware such as network processors (NPUs), co-processors and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).

“Software-defined infrastructure  requires that the attributes of the underlying hardware are exposed and made visible to the orchestration layer, since these attributes can be considered when the orchestration layer is making decisions about where to place an application, and doing so automatically,” explained Bryant.

“These are attributes like security and location for compliance reasons, utilisation and performance levels for quality of service purposes, power and thermal information so that you can manage the total cost of operating the data centre, and so on. Today, as you may know, the most common way IT finds out that one of their applications is performing poorly or is out of compliance is when the customer calls and says ‘things aren’t going well’.”

SDI can ease the burden of network administrators by enabling active and intelligent orchestration of workloads which solves the problems before they arise. A new cache monitoring feature in E5-2600 v3 family of chips provides data to enable such intelligent orchestration, and helps solve the ‘noisy neighbour’ problem in multi-tenant cloud environments.

The new silicon increases virtualisation density, allowing support for up to 70 percent more VMs per server compared to the previous generation processors.

A different version of the chip, E5-1600 v3, was designed specifically  for workstations – while it lacks some of the server-oriented features, it keeps the impressive compute power.

Manufacturers already using E5 v3 to build server and networking equipment include Cisco, Dell, Hitachi, Cray, HP and Lenovo, among others.

To complement the new CPUs, Intel has launched the XL710 Ethernet controller family capable of moving data around at 40 Gigabit per second.

As with most of Intel’s chips released after January 2014, the Xeon E5 v3 family does not contain conflict minerals – gold, tungsten, tantalum and tin – that directly or indirectly finance armed groups in and around the Democratic Republic of Congo.