The big day in 2019 for Intel’s Enterprise has come, their yearly product announcements. Combining some products that should be available from today to a others set to launch in the next few months. We have it all in one: processors, accelerators, networking, and edge computer. This article will be about some rundowns of the products.
Cascade Lake (up to 56 cores)
The cadence of Intel’s enterprise processor portfolio is designed to support customers that use the hardware with a guarantee of socket and platform support for at least three years. As a result, we typically get two lots of processors per socket: Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge, Broadwell and Haswell, and now Cascade Lake joins Skylake. Intel’s new Second Generation Xeon Scalable (the official name) still comes in the new ‘Platinum / Gold / Silver / Bronze’ nomenclature, but this time offering up to 56 cores if you want the processor equivalent of Wolverine at your disposal. Not only is Intel offering more cores, but there’s Optane support, faster DRAM, new configurations, and better specialization that before. Intel also surprised us with better-than-expected hardware support for Spectre and Meltdown mitigations while still providing higher performance overall.
Columbiaville 800 series
The new Intel 800-Series Ethernet controllers and PCIe cards, using the Columbiaville code-name, are focused mainly on one thing aside from providing a 100G connection – meeting customer requirements and targets for connectivity and latency. This involves reducing the variability in application response time, improving predictability, and improving throughput. Intel is doing this through two technologies: Application Device Queues (ADQ) and Dynamic Device Personalization (DDP).
Ever since Intel purchased Altera for an enormous amount of money a few years ago (ed: $16.7B), the FPGA portfolio that has been coming out has largely been a product of the pre-Intel days. Today however that changes, as Intel is announcing its first fully Intel-designed FPGA, built upon its own internal 10nm process, with the Agilex brand name. This new range of products is set to roll out later this year for sampling, and offer a mix of analog, digital, memory, custom IO, and eASIC variations within a singular platform.
For users familiar with Intel’s FPGA family, the new Agilex portfolio is a generational upgrade over the current Stratix 10 family. The new Agilex parts, according to Intel, offer up to 40% higher performance or 40% lower power, up to 40 TFLOPs of DSP performance, and support for all the latest and future technologies. It’s this latter part that becomes important as the role of the FPGA is transmogrifying into a general purpose design platform into an optimized compute platform.
These new Xeon D-1600 processors build upon the Xeon D-1500 line of products, offering up to eight CPU cores. The new chips are primarily focused on edge network, mid-range storage, and space-constrained solutions. This includes control planes, routers, firewalls, base stations, localized cloud infrastructure, and others – the Xeon D chips enable this by bundling the chipset on board, and enabling multiple high gigabit Ethernet options and/or Quick-Assist Technology for cryptography acceleration.
Intel’s product portfolio here designates two potential upgrades from current Xeon D-1500 users: for an absolute throughput upgrade, then look to Xeon D-2100, which offers up to 16 cores and 512 GB of DRAM. However for a per-core performance upgrade, then the Xeon D-1600 processors will fit the bill, with a doubling of memory support and increased frequencies. In fact, the Xeon D-1600 processors are built on the same Broadwell microarchitecture as the Xeon D-1500, but take advantage of manufacturing improvements for increased frequencies at the same power as well as the new 16 Gb memory chips for doubled DRAM capacity. As with the D-1500, models are on offer with extended temperature support.
Optane DC Persistent Memory, to give it its official title, comes in a DDR4 form factor and works with Cascade Lake processors to enable large amounts of memory in a single system – up to 6TB in a dual socket platform. The Optane DCPMM is slightly slower than traditional DRAM, but allows for a much higher memory density per socket. Intel is set to offer three different sized modules, either 128 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB. Optane doesn’t replace DDR4 entirely – you need at least one module of standard DDR4 in the system to get it to work (it acts like a buffer), but it means customers can pair 128GB DDR4 with 512 GB Optane for 768 GB total, rather than looking at a 256 GB of pure DDR4 backed with NVMe.