Intel Rolls Out Energy-Efficient Xeon E5 Chips For Cloud And Big Data

Intel executives unveiled their much-anticipated family of Xeon E5-2600 processors for servers designed to handle the demands brought on by the rapid growth of such technologies as virtualisation and cloud computing in the data centre.

At a webcast event in San Francisco, Dianne Bryant, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Datacentre and Connected Systems Group, outlined the advances offered in the new chip line that she said will deliver 80 percent more performance and more than 50 percent better energy efficiency than the previous Xeon 5600 chips, as well as improved networking and security features.

Energy efficient eight cores

The Xeon E5-2600 chips, which offer up to eight cores, will enable data centres to handle a world where there will be more than three billion Internet users with more than 15 billion connected devices by 2015, per numbers compiled by Cisco Systems. And all those users and devices will be connected via servers in data centres, whether they are cloud environments, telecommunications companies or data centres, Bryant said.

Using the Xeon E5 chips “gives us the performance we need, the scalability we need, the I/O [input/output] throughput and … the security”, she told reporters and analysts at the event.

Major players such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, SGI and Hitachi are all unveiling new and upgraded products employing the Intel technology. HP officials introduced the enhanced systems in February, rolling out the ProLiant Generation 8 systems that included the upgraded SL230s and 250s Gen8 systems.

Dell has introduced its twelfth generation of PowerEdge servers, including the R820, R720, R720xd and R620 rack systems, M620 blade, T620 tower and C6220 shared infrastructure server based on the Xeon E5.

“Our customers told us that they need end-to-end solutions to handle the complex workload problems they face every day,” Brad Anderson, president of Dell’s Enterprise Solutions Group, said in a statement. “As such, we built our new generation of servers, systems management and workload solutions to address the needs of business end users who require maximum performance to run mission-critical applications and IT departments which demand more efficient, secure and reliable operations.”

IBM executives also used the Xeon E5-2600 launch to roll out new x86-based servers aimed at giving users more capabilities in cloud environments and in analytics. Included in the rollout was a new version of the company’s BladeCenter Foundation for Cloud, an integrated offering that includes server, storage, networking and virtualisation capabilities and built-in management software.

The package is powered by the latest generation of IBM’s BladeCenter HS23, which offers 62 percent more compute power than previous generations and comes with an integrated 10 Gigabit Ethernet Virtual Fabric technology, which enables businesses to run 20 percent more virtual machines.

“IBM is delivering easy-to-deploy cloud and analytics products to help clients align their businesses to manage unprecedented amounts of data and become much more efficient at turning that information into timely business insights,” Adalio Sanchez, general manager of IBM’s System x business, said in a statement.

High density benefits

Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT Research, said IBM’s newest System x servers take full advantage of the innovations in Intel’s Xeon E5 chips.

‘The result is a processor built for the rigours of the modern data centre, and IBM is taking that to the bank, particularly in areas such as cloud computing and analytics,” King told eWEEK. “Both practice areas will benefit from the combination of raw system, storage and network performance offered by Intel’s Xeon E5-2600, but solutions designed for high-density cloud computing environments must deliver world-class power efficiency, as well. Overall, the new System x, BladeCenter and iDataplex solutions look like solid additions to IBM’s already formidable array Intel-based systems.”

Intel’s Bryant noted the innovations the chip giant put into the Xeon E5-2600 processors that touch on everything from I/O to security to energy efficiency, saying that a key goal was a balanced approach that touched not only servers but also networking and storage. The new chips offer an integrated I/O controller that supports PCI Express 3.0 that Intel officials say will triple the speed of data into and out of the chip. In addition, 10GbE also is supported on the motherboard. Intel also introduced the Ethernet Controller X540.

Regarding security, the Xeon E5-2600 also leverages Intel’s Advanced Encryption Standard New Instruction (AES-NI) to more quickly encrypt and decrypt data, and Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) to help minimise the threat of malicious attacks. Intel bought security software vendor McAfee last year to enable it to build more software capabilities into the hardware, which Bryant said strengthens the security in the chips. The greater adoption of mobile computing and cloud computing increases the threat of attacks, she said.

“The solution is to bring security closer and closer to the hardware,” she said.

Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 enables systems to boost the performance of single cores by as much as 900MHz when needed, while the company’s Node Manager and Data Centre Manager features give users accurate and real-time information about data and power use.

Senior editor Darryl Taft contributed to this article.

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Jeffrey Burt

Jeffrey Burt is a senior editor for eWEEK and contributor to TechWeekEurope

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