Server makers unleashed new systems and upgrades this week based on Intel's new Xeon E7 processor family, which is designed to extend unified computing to a wider range of mission-critical IT workloads. Based on Intel's 32-nanometer process technology, the new server chips integrate up to 10 cores with Intel's hyper-threading, Turbo Boost, and virtualization technologies. In addition, a new energy-saving feature reduces the power draw of idle portions of the chip.
The goal is to enable business customers to take advantage of a 40 percent improvement in generational compute-intensive performance in fields such as financial services and scientific research, where speed is essential. According to Intel, more than 35 systems based on the Xeon E7 family are expected to ship from manufacturers around the world, including Cisco Systems, Dell, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Lenovo, NEC and Oracle.
For example, NEC has already begun accepting orders for field upgrades of the company's Express5800/A1080a servers. "The Express5800/A1080a server with support for the Intel Xeon processor E7 architecture is designed to increase speed, workload performance, reliability and security with higher memory and less energy consumption than ever before," said NEC America IT Platform Director Mike Mitsch.
SGI and Cisco
SGI said its Altix UV server running Intel's Xeon E7 processors -- formerly code-named Westmere-EX -- has already delivered record benchmarks featuring up to a 35 percent performance gain in comparison to previous-generation chips running on the same platform. The refreshed Altix system offers 256-socket support for the new Xeon E7-4870 processor with 10 cores running at 2.4 GHz as well as the new Xeon E7-8837 chip with eight cores running at 2.66 GHz.
"By incorporating more robust Intel Xeon E7 processors, Altix UV provides a platform that is unmatched in terms of performance, with an open-standards approach," said SGI Chief Technology Officer Eng Lim Goh.
Cisco has just expanded its unified computing system line to include blade and rack-optimized servers based on the new Xeon E7. One of the new offerings is a two-socket platform supporting up to 20 cores, 1TB of memory and 16 SFF disk drives in a dense, 2U form factor.
"This is big-time compute, memory and storage capability in an extremely small footprint," wrote Cisco Product Marketing Manager Timothy Stack in a blog. "Up to 50GB of memory per core [is available] for demanding enterprise applications, such as large-data-set and transaction-intensive databases, enterprise resource planning applications, and decision-support systems."
Dell and Super Micro
Super Micro Computer also rolled out a wide selection of servers running Intel's Xeon E7-8800/4800 product families. "Our ability to deliver solutions for customers requiring large databases, heavy transaction processing, and complex technical computing formulations is significantly enhanced with these new systems," said SuperMicro CEO Charles Liang.
The company's eight-way SuperServer systems running 10-core Intel E7 chips support up to 2TB of ECC DDR3 memory, 10 PCI-E 2.0 expansion slots, and up to 24 2.5-inch hard drives. Up to 80 CPU cores are available in a single 5U form factor, with customers also having the option of integrating up to four GPUs to address heretofore unmanageable large-scale computing projects, the company said.
Additionally, the refreshed server lineup unveiled by Dell this week includes the PowerEdge R910, which is configured with a 10-core Intel Xeon E7-4780 processor. Dell said the new system can provide up to a 38 percent improvement in Oracle application server and database performance over the previous-generation eight-core Intel Xeon X7560.