At last it is official and the world of server systems can move on: Intel has formally unveiled the Xeon E5 processor.
The announcement has triggered the inevitable rush of announcements from server manufacturers of new systems using the processor. As Intel admitted in the announcement that it had been in just about full production of the processor since Q3 last year, this is inevitable.
Indeed, the only big story that might come out of this is that some server vendor somewhere has decided not to produce an E5-based system.
The 8-core chip produces an 80% improvement in performance, according to the company, not least because of developments in its memory management capabilities. This has, for example, added a fourth DDR memory channel, as well as boosting their speed from 1333 MHz to 1600 MHz.
This improvement tempted the company to attach the launch to the thoroughly over-hyped `big data’ bandwagon, though from a Cloud service perspective it might have been better if more had been made of what developers and orchestrators are likely to achieve that is of real value in business terms.
Intel’s UK MD, Graham Palmer, did attempt this at the launch, highlighting the potential for building services based on collaboration across applications and information sources.
It is likely that the Xeon E5 will have a role to play in the adoption and use of in-memory database systems such as SAP’s Hann and Actian’s Vectorwise, where high speed and high bandwidth memory management will be vital for running in-memory processing of data. It will also be important in managing validation of data in real time, where collaborative services are also growing in importance, as was highlighted by Intel Fellow, anthropologist Genevieve Bell.
This is an excellent example of how the ability to correlate one set of data with other data sources that can qualify any final analysis will be of great value.
The E5 can support up to 768GB of system memory, and also supports Intel’s Advanced Vector Extension that can double the performance on compute-intensive applications such as financial analysis, media content creation and high performance computing. This exploits new AVX 256-bit SIMD registers, which are designed to better process floating-point instructions.
Other enhancements include better power management, which is said to come from Intel’s long-ago acquisition of Digital Equipment’s Alpha processor line – and more importantly its design team. There is also a redesigned version of Intel's Turbo Boost technology, which is designed to allow the redirection of power of a currently unused processor core to another on the chip that requires it. This should allow cores to enter turbo mode more often and for longer durations.
The E5 processors also utilise several features to those in the Sandy Bridge family of Core microprocessors, such as faster data encryption and decryption (through Advanced Encryption Standard-New Instructions, or AES-NI, and the company's Trusted Execution (TXT) technologies.