Intel pushes savings with new 10-core server chips

The Xeon E7 chips, code-named Westmere-EX, are designed to cut server maintenance and electric bills

Intel on Tuesday announced the Xeon E7 series of chips with 10 cores, which the company said could help cut power and maintenance costs in data centers while adding more processing power.

The Xeon E7 chips, formerly code-named Westmere-EX, will be 40 per cent faster than their predecessors, the Xeon 7500 chips, said Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Center Group. The Xeon 7500 chips are eight-core processors, launched last year.

Intel is targeting the Xeon E7 chips at high-end servers running data-intensive applications such as databases and ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications. The processors will be made using the 32-nanometer process, and will be based on the Westmere microarchitecture.

A single Xeon E7 server will be able to replace 18 dual-core servers, which would help consolidate the number of servers in data centers, Skaugen said. The E7 chips also have power-efficiency features, such as a mechanism to shut down idle processing cores, to reduce power consumption. Features like support for low-voltage memory could also help reduce the power drawn by servers.

Customers will be able to build 256-way servers based on the processors, Skaugen said. A four-socket server with an E7 chip will be able to support up to 2TB of memory, which is double that of the older Xeon 7500 processors. The company is offering 10 new 10-core chips, including the E7-8870, E7-4870 and E7-2870, which operate at speeds of up to 2.4GHz and consume up to 130 watts. A 4U server will be able to accommodate up to 64 memory slots.

Skaugen said Intel had 60 server design wins for the new processors, with companies like Dell and IBM immediately launching new servers.

Dell's new PowerEdge servers with Xeon E7 chips deliver up to a 49 per cent improvement in performance-per-watt with low-voltage memory compared to the previous generation of Xeon eight-core chips, said Brian Payne, executive director of Dell's PowerEdge server line. The overall energy consumption at a server node level is lower, which helps cut energy costs.

The chip also includes improved RAS (reliability, availability and serviceability) features that help servers maintain high uptime, Payne said. Dell's new PowerEdge servers also include new system management tools that aid in reducing server maintenance costs.

Some RAS features found in E7 chips can also be found in Intel's Itanium high-end server chips, which are based on a different instruction set. The E7 in some cases can deliver better performance than Itanium chips, and could be an alternative, depending on the operating system, Skaugen said. Many mainframe OSes, such as HP's Unix-based HP-UX OS, run on Itanium but not the x86 architecture. However, for OSes like Windows and Red Hat Linux, companies can choose x86 servers.

But Intel's Itanium chip is at a crossroads as the company aggressively pushes x86 into IT infrastructures. Oracle said late last month it would stop further software development for Itanium-based servers, saying Intel's strategic focus was on x86 and that Itanium was nearing the end of its life. Microsoft and Red Hat have already announced the end of Itanium support. In response to Oracle's announcement, Intel reiterated its support for Itanium, saying it had future chips based on the architecture in its road map.

Skaugen on Tuesday emphasized the performance of Oracle's 11g Release 2 database on Xeon E7 chips, saying the AES-NI (Advanced Encryption Standard Instructions) on the chips showed a 10 times speedup in data encryption.

A number of customers also see potential benefits in migrating to Xeon E7 chips.

NCH Corp., a supplier of industrial maintenance products, will migrate an Oracle installation from IBM's Power servers to Intel's Westmere E7 over the next few years, said David Kennedy, director of infrastructure at NCH.

The E7 servers will provide a performance improvement, and there are savings related to annual server maintenance, Kennedy said.

Texas Instruments over the past few years has migrated Oracle database software performing a variety of functions from RISC-based servers to Xeon chips, and will continue in the same vein with the new E7 chips, said Vishal Mehra, a senior member of technology staff at the company.

The company already runs multiple instances of ERP, analytics, manufacturing and Oracle database software on Xeon, and over the next few years plans to move to SAP business management software on E7 servers. TI is moving to Xeon because it sees a clear upgrade path, Mehra said.

"The RISC platform wasn't keeping up with the pent-up demand," Mehra said.

The new servers help scale down the number of processing nodes, which has helped reduce the cost of acquiring hardware. The E7 also has advanced memory-handling capabilities, Mehra said.

Intel on Tuesday also announced the Xeon E3-1200 family of chips for entry-level servers, which the company calls microservers. The processors are based on the new Sandy Bridge microarchitecture and are designed for business applications such as storage and backup applications.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags servershardware systemsComponentsprocessorsintel

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?