Posted by Tom Foremski - March 30, 2010
Intel this morning introduced a high performance microprocessor for server applications claiming it can do the work of 20 older servers.
The latest Xeon 7500 processor comes at a critical time for the IT industry as spending seems to be increasing after a long period of frozen IT budgets.
Data centers have begun to accumulate large numbers of aging servers which brings an increased risk of failures affecting business operations for many large corporations. Intel said that there are as many as 1 million servers that need to be replaced.
The Xeon 7500 has the capacity to replace the computing power of 20 single core servers, while using far less electric power -- a key constraint for many data centers.
As many as 256 Xeon 7500 processors can be combined within each server. This allows data centers to further consolidate the number of servers they need. And it also allows supercomputers to be built at very low cost.
The Intel launch comes in the same week as rival Advanced Micro Devices has launched its latest server microprocessor.
Clay Ryder, lead analyst at The Sageza Group, said, "These chips are fast but it's their ability to use more memory that's important. As companies run greater numbers of virtual servers, memory becomes very critical, and it can affect system performance more than the speed of the processor. All the leading server processor vendors AMD, and IBM have added the capability of using larger amounts of memory."
But one constraint on performance is the software. Intel says that the operating system vendors support many of the advanced features found in Xeon 7500, but there are many applications that need to be rewritten to take advantage of the performance offered by multiple cores, and multi-threaded architectures.
It may take years before programmers are skilled in developing apps that take advantage of parallel processing. In the meantime, Intel and others, have made available tools that help in optimizing existing applications.
(Please note: Intel is a past sponsor and I am a member of the "Intel Insider" advisory group.)
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