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Intel launches micro-server, network, storage technologies to power cloud datacentres

Archana Venkatraman

Chip-maker Intel has launched a second-generation family of system-on-chip (SOC) for micro-servers, a silicon suited for software-defined networking, and a rack designed for telecommunications and cloud service providers to build datacentres of the future.

The portfolio of datacentre technologies will help cloud service providers drive efficiency and flexibility into their infrastructure to support growing demand for new services, according to Intel.

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As server, network and storage infrastructure technologies evolve to better suit an increasingly diverse set of lightweight workloads, they create a need for micro-server, cold storage and entry networking products.

By optimising technologies for specific workloads, the new products will help cloud providers increase utilisation and drive down costs, the company said.

"As the world becomes more and more mobile, the pressure to support billions of devices and users is changing the very composition of datacentres," said Diane Bryant, senior vice-president and general manager of the datacentre and connected systems group at Intel.

Intel Atom C2000 SoC

Among the first in the portfolio of datacentre products launched by Intel is the second-generation 64-bit Intel Atom C2000 SoC product designs for micro-servers and storage platforms (code named Avoton) and for networking platforms.

Micro-servers are tiny, power-efficient machines designed to handle light workloads such as entry-level web hosting. While they are not as powerful as traditional server models, they are suited for small or temporary jobs without provisioning resources from contemporary high-end servers.

The Atom C2000 is based on the Silvermont micro-architecture and is aimed at improving performance and energy efficiency. It features up to eight cores, up to 20W TDP (thermal design power), integrated Ethernet and supports up to 64GB of memory. It addresses the specialised needs for securing and routing internet traffic more efficiently, claimed Intel.

Intel claimed the chip can deliver four times the energy efficiency and up to seven times more performance than the first-generation Intel Atom processor-based server SoCs

Consolidating three workloads – application, control and packet processing – on a common platform gives providers flexibility and helps them meet the changing network demands, according to Intel. The new range of datacentre products will facilitate such consolidation.

Web-hosting service company 1&1 has tested Atom C2000 as a pilot and is planning to deploy the chip in its entry-level dedicated hosting service in the next quarter. Telecommunications provider Ericsson will also add Atom C2000 SoC to its cloud service platform.

Ethernet switch FM5224 silicon

In addition to the chip designed for the micro-server, Intel also launched Ethernet Switch FM5224 silicon designed to facilitate software-defined networking and to improve compute density and power efficiency.

Network solutions that manage data traffic across micro-servers can significantly affect the performance and density of the system, according to the chip-maker.

Rack scale architecture-based system with Intel silicon photonics components 

Lastly, Intel also demonstrated the first operational Intel rack scale architecture (RSA)-based rack.

Maximum datacentre efficiency requires innovation at the silicon, system and rack level. The RSA design, with high-speed silicon photonics components, will help service providers to re-architect datacentres for modularity of components (storage, CPU, memory, network) at the rack level, the company claimed. It will also help them provide resources based on application-specific workload requirements and to reconfigure components when deploying cloud computing, storage and networking resources.

The company also collaborated with Microsoft to improve Microsoft's next-generation RSA rack design and make Microsoft datacentres more flexible, and cost-efficient to deliver cloud services.


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