Intel Launches Atom SOCs for Micro-Servers

Intel executives said Sept. 11 that the company has begun sampling the company’s next-generation E5 and E7 Xeon processor families, and announced its first system-on-a-chip for the so-called “micro server” market.

Diane Bryant, vice president and general manager of the Datacenter and Connected Systems Group at Intel, said that Intel had begun sampling members of both Xeon families, which were separately disclosed as the new “Ivy Bridge-EP” and “Ivy Bridge-EX” processors. The most noteworthy aspect of both is the addition of a new security feature, APICv, which attempts to minimize the performance overhead of operating in a virtual environment by minimizing system interrupts.

Bryant also announced the first system-on-a-chip for the data center, bringing the Atom processor to the data center with the S-series Atom, also known as the “Centerton.” That chip will consume just 6 watts, running at far lower power than the 45-watt or 17-watt tiers of Intel’s low-voltage Xeon E3 family.

Next year, the E3 will be replaced by the new architecture of the “Haswell” family—a chip that Intel designed for the ground up for the low-power constraints of ultrabooks, and presumably microservers as well. Around the same time-frame, Intel will launch its second-generation Atom SOC, the 22-nm “Avoton,” which will include an integrated network fabric as well.

“The key for us is to have the best solution for every workload that emerges in the data center,” Bryant said.

(Intel provides the processors for 74.2 percent of the TOP500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. But its rivals—including AMD subsidiary SeaMicro—have focused on trading raw computational power for low energy use.)

Intel’s announcements continued with the disclosure that the company had brought its Deep Defender technology into the server space. Designed in conjunction with Intel’s McAfee security subsidiary, Intel first launched Deep Defender for clients last year, creating a root of trust to secure the client environment. Now data center operators will be able to run the MacAfee application with visibility down into the server hardware, Bryant said.

Intel OS Guard is also baked into the Intel Xeon E7 family, providing a root of trust (i.e., a component or system that must always act in an expected way, in order to provide a secure foundation for systems built atop it) that’s baked into the processor and chipset. Critical applications can run inside a virtualized environment, while security keys are stored within a trusted platform module (TPM). The system also ensures that system software is in a trusted state before launch.

Intel also launched Intel Cloud Finder, designed to simplify the process by which customers can find cloud service providers.


Image: Volodymyr Krasyuk/

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