SeaMicro's new servers might have Intel Inside but the rest is all AMD

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: seamicro, amd, Intel, xeon, piledriver, smug

To think that only 3 years ago we finally saw the end of the legal battle between Intel and AMD over the x86 patent makes today's news bring a smile to those with a certain sense of humour.  Some of SeaMicro's new servers will be powered by Intel's Xeon line of processors, meaning that an AMD owned company will be offering Intel Inside.  As AMD purchased SeaMicro for their "Freedom" 3D mesh/torus interconnect technology as opposed to an attempt to push Intel out of that particular make of server, this move makes perfect sense as AMD's bottom line will benefit from every sale of an Intel based SeaMicro server.  It also opens up the choices available to the market as you will be able to purchase Piledriver based SeaMicro servers using the same interconnect technology.

From The Register we get more information on the Piledriver processors we will see in these servers, they will have eight cores and would come in three speeds; 2GHz, 2.3GHz, and 2.8GHz.  They also infer that with this design you could have 512 cores and 4TB of memory in a 10U chassis which is enough to make any SETI@Home or Folding@Home team member drool with jealousy.  On the Intel side they will use the 2.5GHz quad core Xeon E3-1265L v2  which means you would only have a mere 256 cores in a similar 10U chassis.  DigiTimes also picked up on this story with more details on the insides of the servers, both Intel and AMD.

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"SeaMicro is not longer an independent company, but you would not have guessed that if you were dropped in from outer space to attend the launch of the new SM15000 microserver in San Francisco on Monday afternoon. Advanced Micro Devices may own SeaMicro, but the company went out of its way to support the latest "Ivy Bridge" Xeon E3-1200 v2 processor from rival Intel as well as its own forthcoming "Piledriver" Opteron processor as new compute nodes in a new SeaMicro chassis."

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Source: The Register

Fee PHI fo fum; Intel changes the smell of a Pentium

Subject: General Tech | September 5, 2012 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: Xeon Phi, xeon, larrabee, knights corner, Intel, hot chips

The Register is back with more information from Hot Chips about Intel's Xeon Phi coprocessor, which seems to be much more than just a GPU in drag.  Inside the shell you will find at least 50 cores and at least 8GB of GDDR5 graphics, wwith the cores being very heavily modified 22-nanometer Tri-Gate process Pentium P54C chips clocked somewhere between 1.2-1.6GHz.  There is a brand new Vector Processing Unit which processes 512-bit SIMD instructions and sports an Extended Math Unit to handle calculations with hardware not software.  Read on for more details about the high-speed ring interconnects that allow these chips to communicate among themselves and with the Xeon server it will be a part of.

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"Intel has been showing off the performance of the "Knights Corner" x86-based coprocessor for so long that it's easy to forget that it is not yet a product you can actually buy. Back in June, Knights Corner was branded as the "Xeon Phi", making it clear that Phi was a Xeon coprocessor even if it does not bear a lot of resemblance to the Xeon processors at the heart of the vast majority of the world's servers."

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Source: The Register

A lot of little Phi coprocessors lightens the load

Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2012 - 02:43 PM |
Tagged: Intel, xeon, Xeon Phi, hot chips, larrabee

The Xeon Phi is not Larrabee but it does give a chance to remind people that Intel did at one time swear we would be seeing huge results from a lot of strung together Pentium chips.  Nor is Many Integrated Cores the same as AMD's Magny-cours, although you can be forgiven if that thought popped into your head.  Instead the Xeon Phi is a co-processor that will have 50 or more 512-bit SIMD architecture based processors, each with 512KB of Level 2 cache.  These cores are comparatively slow on their own but have been designed to spread tasks over dozens of cores for parallel processing to make up for the lack of individual power.  Intel sees Phi as a way to create HPC servers which will be physically smaller than one based solely on traditional Xeon based servers as well as being more efficient.  There is still a lot more we need to learn about these chips; until then you can check out The Inquirer's article on Intel's answer to NVIDIA and AMD's HPC cards.

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"CHIPMAKER Intel revealed some architectural details of its upcoming Xeon Phi accelerator at the Hotchips conference, saying that the chip will feature 512-bit SIMD units."

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Source: The Inquirer

Sandy Bridge Xeons galore! Seventeen new E5s arrive

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2012 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: xeon, xeon e5, Sandy Bridge E, Sandy Bridge EN, Sandy Bridge EP, lga 1356, lga 2011

Today marks the arrival of the Xeon E3-1200 single socket processor with 17 more models coming soon for two, four, or even eight socket motherboards, though according to The Inquirer Intel has no plans to scale to 16 sockets.  They come in a bewildering array of models including the Sandy Bridge E we are used to, Sandy Bridge EN which uses LGA 1356 and is intended for dual CPU motherboards as it only has one QPI and the LGA 2011 Sandy Bridge EP which scales higher thanks to dual QPI.  No triple QPI but that may still be in store to reduce the number of hops in an 8+ socket board to 2 when used in symmetric multiprocessing in the future.

The E5-2400 (SB-EP) has eight cores and is targeted straight at AMD's lower price, lower power consumption chips as well as offering a noticeable improvement over the already launched E3s.  The E5-2600 family with its dual QPI is more suited for high powered applications that need several powerful processors working in tandem but not to the levels that the E7 series provides.  By offering such a wide variety of choices, especially a family of what for Intel are very low cost processors they are really putting a lot of pressure on AMD and the soon to be released Piledriver family.

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"If you were planning on buying new servers in the coming weeks and months, Intel just gave you a whole lot of homework. And if you work at Advanced Micro Devices, you're getting some homework, too."

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Source: The Inquirer

For your enjoyment; a little dual Xeon action

Subject: Systems | April 10, 2012 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: asus, Z9 PE-D8 WS, E5-2660, E5-2687W, xeon

The ASUS Z9 PE-D8 WorkStation motherboard is a great platform for those looking to run two LGA2011 Xeon processors, as well as support for up to four GPUs from either NVIDIA or AMD.  As it is a PCIe 3.0 board, you can run two cards at a full 16x, with four cards they would all run at 8x speeds.  Overclock3D tried two different pairs of octocore Xeons, the 3.1GHz E5-2687W and the 2.2GHz E5-2660 to compare the effect of the base clock speeds on performance.  The faster machine is a F@H monster, running over 100,000 PPD, though in other tests it did not out pace the competition by such a wide margin.  That is especially true for gaming tests, where you seem to be better off with a highly overclocked i7-3960X.

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"What would happen if you combined the power of the ASUS Z9PE-D8 WS and two of the latest Xeon processors? We find out."

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Source: Overclock3D

Intel Announces New Xeon Processor to Power the Cloud

Subject: Processors | March 6, 2012 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: xeon E5-2600, xeon e5, xeon, Sandy Bridge E, lga2011, Intel

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SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 6, 2012 – Addressing the incredible growth of data traffic in the cloud, Intel Corporation announced the record-breaking Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family. These new processors deliver leadership performance, best data center performance per watt, breakthrough I/O innovation and trusted hardware security features to enable IT to scale. These processors are not only at the heart of servers and workstations, but will also power the next generation of storage and communication systems from leading vendors around the world.

Forecasts call for 15 billion connected devices and over 3 billion connected users by 2015. The amount of global data center IP traffic is forecasted to grow by 33 percent annually through 2015, surpassing 4.8 zetabytes per year, more than 3 times the amount in 2011. At these levels, each connected user will generate more than 4GB of data traffic every day – the equivalent of a 4-hour HD movie. This will increase the amount of data that needs to be stored by almost 50 percent per year. ­ In order to scale to meet this growth, the worldwide number of cloud servers is expected to more than triple by 2015.

“The growth in cloud computing and connected devices is transforming the way businesses benefit from IT products and services,” said Diane Bryant, Intel vice president and general manager of the Datacenter and Connected Systems Group. “For businesses to capitalize on these innovations, the industry must address unprecedented demand for efficient, secure and high-performing datacenter infrastructure. The Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family is designed to address these challenges by offering unparalleled, balanced performance across compute, storage and network, while reducing operating costs.” The key requirements to enable IT to scale are performance, energy efficiency, I/O bandwidth and security. With the best combination of performance, built-in capabilities and cost-effectiveness, the new Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product families are designed to address these requirements, and become the heart of the next-generation data center powering servers, storage and communication systems.

Leadership Performance with Best Data Center Performance per Watt
Supporting up to eight cores per processor and up to 768GB of system memory, the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family increases performance by up to 80 percent, compared to the previous-generation Intel Xeon processor 5600 series. The family also supports Intel Advanced Vector Extension (Intel AVX) that increases the performance on compute-intensive applications such as financial analysis, media content creation and high performance computing up to 2 times.

Additional built-in technologies such as Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, Intel Hyper-Threading Technology and Intel Virtualization Technology provide IT with flexible capabilities to increase the performance of their infrastructure dynamically. These performance advances have led the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family to capture 1510 new dual socket x86 world records.

Modern data centers must improve the raw performance they deliver, but also do so efficiently by reducing power consumption and operating costs. The Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family continue Intel’s focus on reducing total cost of ownership by improving energy efficient performance more than 50 percent as measured by SPECpower_ssj 2008 compared to the previous generation Intel Xeon processor 5600 series. These processors offer support for tools to monitor and control power usage such as Intel Node Manager and Intel Data Center Manager, which provide accurate, real-time power and thermal data to system management consoles. In addition, Intel’s leadership performance allows IT managers to meet their growing demands while optimizing software license and capital costs.

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I/O Innovation and Network Capabilities
With the unprecedented growth in data traffic it is essential that systems not only improve computational abilities, but also enable data to flow faster to support data-hungry applications and increase the bandwidth within the data center. The Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family meets these needs with Intel Integrated I/O (Intel IIO) and Intel Data Direct I/O (Intel DDIO). Intel DDIO allows Intel Ethernet controllers and adapters to route I/O traffic directly to processor cache, reducing trips to system memory reducing power consumption and I/O latency. The Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family is also the first server processors to integrate the I/O controller supporting PCI Express 3.0 directly into the microprocessor. This integration reduces latency up to 30 percent11 compared to prior generations and with PCI Express 3.0 can up to triple the movement of data into and out of the processor.

The high-performance processing power along with Intel Integrated I/O and advanced storage features such as PCIe non-transparent bridging and asynchronous DRAM refresh, makes the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family also an ideal choice for storage and communications solutions.

Increasing bandwidth demands driven by server virtualization and data and storage network consolidation have led to strong growth in 10 Gigabit Ethernet deployments, with adapter port shipments exceeding 1 million units in each quarter of 2011. Today’s announcement of the Intel Ethernet Controller X540 demonstrates Intel’s commitment to driving 10 Gigabit Ethernet to the mainstream by reducing implementation costs. This industry-first single-chip 10GBASE-T solution is designed for low-cost, low-power LAN on motherboard (LOM) and includes flexible I/O Virtualization and Unified networking support at no additional cost.

Trusted Security
The Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family reaffirms Intel’s commitment to providing a more secure hardware foundation for today’s data centers. Intel Advanced Encryption Standard New Instruction (Intel AES-NI14) helps systems to quickly encrypt and decrypt data running over a range of applications and transactions. Intel Trusted Execution Technology (Intel TXT15) creates a trusted foundation to reduce the infrastructure exposure to malicious attacks. These features in partnership with leading software applications will help IT protect their data centers against attack and scale to meet the demands of their customers.

Extensive Industry Support
Starting today, system manufacturers from around the world are expected to announce hundreds of Intel Xeon processor E5 family-based platforms. These manufacturers include Acer, Appro, Asus, Bull, Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Hitachi, Huawei, IBM, Inspur, Lenovo, NEC, Oracle, Quanta, SGI, Sugon, Supermicro and Unisys.

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Source: Intel

Intel Processors Power The Majority of Top 500 Supercomputers, Looking to Expand With MIC Solutions

Subject: General Tech, Processors | November 25, 2011 - 08:45 PM |
Tagged: xeon, SC11, mic, many integrated core, knights corner, Intel

This year saw the 40th anniversary of (the availability of) the world’s first microprocessor- the Intel 4004 processor- and Intel is as strong as ever. On the supercomputing and HPC (High Performance Computing) front, Intel processors are powering the majority of the Top 500 supercomputers, and at this years supercomputing conference (SC11) the company talked about their current and future high performance silicon. Mainly, Intel talked about its new Intel Xeon E5 family of processors and the new Many Integrated Cores Knights Corner Larrabee successor.

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The Intel Xeon E5 is available now.

The new Xeon chips are launching now and should be widely available within the first half of 2012. Several (lucky) supercomputing centers have already gotten their hands on the new chips and are now powering 10 systems on the Top 500 list where the 20,000 Xeon E5 CPUs are delivering a combined 3.4 Petaflops.

According to benchmarks, Intel is expecting a respectable 70% performance increase on HPC workloads versus the previous generation Xeon 5600 CPUs. Further Intel stated that the new E5 silicon is capable of as much as a 2x increase in raw FLOPS performance, according to Linpack benchmarks.

Intel is reporting that demand for the initial production run chips is “approximately 20 times greater than previous generation processors.” Rajeeb Hazra, the General Manager of Technical Computing of Intel’s Datacenenter and Connected Systems Group, stated that “customer acceptance of the Intel Xeon E5 processor has exceeded our expectations and is driving the fastest debut on the TOP 500 list of any processor in Intel’s history.” The company further reiterated several supercomputers that are set to go online son and will be powered by the new E5 CPUs including the 10 Petaflops Stampede computer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center and the 1 Petaflops Pleiades expansion for NASA.

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While Intel processors are powering the majority of the world’s fastest supercomputers, graphics card hardware and GPGPU software has started to make its way into quite a few supercomputers as powerful companion processors that can greatly outperform a similar number of traditional CPUs (assuming the software can take advantage of the GPU hardware of course). In response to this, Intel has been working on it’s own MIC (Many Integrated Core) solution for a few years now. Starting with Larrabee, then Knights Ferry, and now Knights Corner, Intel has been working on silicon that using numerous small processing cores that can use the X86 instruction set to power highly parallel applications. Examples given by Intel as useful applications for their Many Integrated Core hardware includes weather modeling, tomography, and protein folding.

Intel Many Integrated Core.png

Knights Corner is the company’s latest iteration of MIC hardware, and is the first hardware that is commercially available. Knights Corner is capable of delivering more than 1 Teraflops of double precision floating point performance. Hazra stated that “having this performance now in a single chip based on Intel MIC architecture is a milestone that will once again be etched into HPC history” much like Intel’s first Teraflop supercomputer that utilized 9,680 Pentium Pro CPUs in 1997.

What’s interesting about Knights Corner lies in the ability of the hardware to run existing applications without porting to alternative programing languages like Nvidia’s CUDA or AMD’s Stream GPU languages. That is not to say that the hardware itself is not interesting, however. Knights Corner will be produced using Intel’s Tri-Gate transistors on a 22nm manufacturing process, and will feature “more than 50 cores.” Unlike current GPGPU solutions, the Knights Corner hardware is fully accessible and can be programmed as if the card is it’s own HPC node running a Linux based operating system.

More information on the Knights Corner architecture can be found here. I think it will be interesting to see how well Knights Corner will be adopted for high performance workloads versus graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD, especially now that the industry has already begun adapting GPGPU solutions using such programming technologies like CUDA, and graphics cards are becoming more general purpose (or at least less specialized) in hardware design. Is Intel too late for the (supercomputing market adoption) party, or just in time? What do you think?

Source: Intel

Bulldozers at Knights Corner; duelling server chips

Subject: General Tech | November 16, 2011 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: xeon e5, xeon, servers, opteron, knights ferry, knights corner, interlagos, hp, dell, bulldozer, acer

As you would expect, no sooner does AMD release news on its new line of Bulldozer era Opterons, Intel follows suit with news on their next generation of server chips.  AMD hit the news and the server room first thanks to interest shown by Dell, HP and Acer.   These vendors have based a series of 2U servers on AMD's new chip as well as a family of blade servers.  Dell's Poweredge C6145 was probably the most ambitious, with 4 sockets you can have 128 cores and 1TB of DDR3 in a 2U rack mount server and FusionIO was suggesting the inclusion of their 1.2TB Iodrive Duo card to ensure your storage media can keep up.

Intel also spoke with The Inquirer and other news sites about their new Xeon E5 processor family as well as providing more information about Knights Bridge. Intel has reached out to a different set of clients for the new Xeon, focusing on NVIDIA's latest target market of High Performance Computing (that HPC acronym you see hanging around Fermi).  They tout over 10,000 chips sold, some of which are sitting pretty in the TOP500.  Also on display was their Knights Ferry accelerator board, again targeted for the HPC crowd that NVIDIA has been courting.

So this processor generation we have Intel and NVIDIA fighting it out for HPC customers, while AMD seems to be without major competition in high density computing, although ARM has certainly been making inroads into that market.  

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"AMD's partners have shown a small but impressive array of Bulldozer Opteron kit. Dell's 2U eight socket beast was arguably the most impressive of the lot on show in Munich, but AMD will know it needs more than just one vendor in its fight against Intel. Thankfully it has the might of HP also showing that its traditional rackmount and blade servers can make use of AMD's Bulldozer silicon."

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Source: The Register

EVGA Shows Off Drool Worthy Dual Xeon Sandy Bridge-E SR3 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | October 21, 2011 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: xeon, x79, SB-E, sandy bridge-e, motherboard, Intel, evga

Jacob Freeman of EVGA Google + fame recently posted a teaser photo of a certain shiny piece of X79 chipset baked silicon in the form of a new SR3 Super Record series motherboard. This monster of a board is packed to the brim with features, and mid tower cases need not apply.

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Starting at the top of the board and working our way down, we are presented with not one but two socket 2011 Sandy Bridge-E Xeon processor sockets! One processor will have access to eight DDR3 DIMM slots while the other will have access to four DDR3 DIMM slots.  While the RAM configuration may seem odd, EVGA wanted to make the transition from the boards SR2 predecesor as easy as possible, by allowing users to transfer all 12, triple channel DIMMs to the new SR3 motherboard.  When all 12 RAM slots are populated, the board will run in triple channel mode, and when four or eight slots are populated, the motherboard will utilize the new quad channel interface.  The RAM will be fed power via a eight phase PWM (pulse width modulation) circuitry. The board also features two eight pin EPS and two six pin PCI-E connectors, and seven PCI-E 3.0 slots that are all capable of running at least PCI-E 3.0 x8 and four of them are capable of providing PCI-E 3.0 x16 bandwidth, more than enough for even the beefiest SLI setup.

On the storage and IO front, the SR3 motherboard has 14 SATA ports, HD Audio via six 3.5mm jacks, USB 3.0 ports (the total amount is unclear), and eSATA support.  The bottom right corner of the board lies a handy diagnostic screen to report error codes.  Further, the motherboard will come with the new UEFI BIOS.  Mr. Freeman states that the x79 motherboard is fully furnished with solid state capacitors from Sanyo (specifically POSCAP).

In short, this motherboard is a total beast. Please excuse me as I try to remove my jaw from the floor cartoon style.

Source: EVGA

Shrinking the Xeon with Westmere-EX

Subject: Processors | May 25, 2011 - 03:28 PM |
Tagged: xeon, server, xeon x7, x7 4870, Intel

 AnandTech got their hands on four of the the brand new 32nm Intel Xeon X7 4870, 10 cores clocked to 2.4GHz; perhaps a delayed 'Tick" but a tick nonetheless.  Not only did they test the new chips they also had a chance to test it with Load Reduced DIMMs (LR-DIMM) as opposed to the old Fully Buffered style (FB-DIMMs) we were used to in days gone by.  That spells higher capacity which is good considering the testbed they used can support up to 2TB of RAM to keep the 4 CPUs fed.  This is a high end server part, not really competeing against AMD as a similar Opteron system would cost about 1/2 as much with performance reduced about the same as well.  Check out this beast, but keep in mind a single CPU will set you back more than you paid for your whole system.

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"Only one year later, Intel is upgrading the top Xeon by introducing Westmere-EX. Shrinking Intel's largest Xeon to 32nm allows it to be clocked slightly higher, get two extra cores, and add 6MB L3 cache. At the same time the chip is quite a bit smaller, which makes it cheaper to produce. Unfortunately, the customer does not really benefit from that fact, as the top Xeon became more expensive. Anyway, the Nehalem-EX was a popular chip, so it is no surprise that the improved version has persuaded 19 vendors to produce 60 different designs, ranging from two up to 256 sockets."

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Source: AnandTech