Intel Details New Chips’ Feeds (But Not Speeds)


Intel executives have confirmed an earlier leaked roadmap, revealing three new Xeon microprocessors for the data center as well as new Atom chips for specialized purposes, including the “Avoton” and “Rangely” chips. Intel is revealing some core specifications, although not the new hardware’s speeds.

Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Datacenter and Connected Systems Group, told an audience at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing, China, that it had provided its specialized Hadoop distribution to China Mobile, with an eye toward improving the carrier’s billing operations. She added that Bocom, a leading supplier of traffic management solutions, is collaborating with Intel to transform its end-to-end solution from point video capture to a full Big Data analytics solution.

Although Intel still faces challenges from Oracle, IBM, and others processing high-performance workloads in the HPC space, the company is keenly aware that other, more specialized workloads may allow competitors a foothold in developing low-power alternatives. In part, that’s prompted Intel’s development of the Intel Phi coprocessor as well as the “Centerton” Atom processor, the Atom S1200.

An Intel spokesman was quick to point out that the upcoming “Avoton” Atom, the Atom 1200 family, would launch in the second half of 2013 and offer a “double bump” in performance, combining both a redesigned microarchitecture (codenamed “Silvermont”) with the (now proven) 22-nm manufacturing process. The combination will result in significantly improved performance—”significant with a capital S,” the spokesman said—as well as reduced power consumption. The Atom 1200 family will be a one-socket, two-core chip supporting up to 8 GB of DRAM as well as 8 PCI Express 2 lanes. Perhaps even more significant will be the inclusion of a fabric controller, which Intel had previously promised.

Bryant showed off the silicon of the chip on stage, and announced that the Avoton is now sampling to OEMs before it ships in the second half of this year.

Two other chips will be included in the Atom 1200 family: the “Rangeley” derivative for network devices, as well as the S12x9—a storage controller with 40 lanes of PCIe 2.0, storage intelligence and RAID acceleration, and asynchronous DRAM refresh.

The Xeon roadmap presented by Intel aligns with the previously disclosed roadmap: Haswell, or the Xeon E3-1200, is due this quarter. During the third quarter, Intel will launch the Xeon E5-2600 or “Ivy Bridge-EP” family, followed by the Xeon E7 or Ivy Bridge EX family in the fourth quarter.

But the specs are the thing. Haswell, or the Xeon E3, will be a one-socket part, supporting 2 or 4 cores. Each chip will include 8 Mbytes of Level 3 cache and 20 PCI Express 3.0 lanes plus support up to 32 GB of memory. The thermal design power of the chip will range from 17 to 87 watts. Haswell will also include integrated graphics processors for video workloads, although they won’t be on the order of the Xeon Phi.

Ivy Bridge-EP will be a two-socket part, with 4, 6, or 8 cores and 20 MB of level-3 cache. Each of these E5 Xeons will support up to 768 GB of memory and 80 PCIe3 lanes. Power will range from 60 watts to 130 watts.

Finally, the Ivy Bridge-EX, otherwise known as the Xeon E7 family, will include 4 to 8 sockets and between 6 and 10 cores. While the chip will include 30 MB of cache, the real whopper will be the memory support: up to 4 terabytes, or 12 TB in 8-socket mode. Only a single power option will be available—130 watts—plus 144 PCIe3 lanes.

Intel also disclosed “Scorpio,” a rack scale architecture that it has developed with Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, and China Telecom. The modular design will include a centralized power supply, cooling and management. Intel also launched a Cloud Innovation Center specifically for China, to enable developers to bring their Intel-architected solutions to market even faster.


Image: Peter Gudella/