SAN FRANCISCO — Intel tripled the maximum memory capacity in its latest server microprocessor, aiming the part against high-end chips from IBM and Oracle for big-data analytics jobs such as running in-memory databases. The Xeon E7 v2 packs up to 6 TBytes main memory in a four-socket platform and 12 TBytes in an eight-socket platform.
The new family includes more than a dozen members. At the high end a 15-core version with 37.5 Mbits L3 cache runs at 2.8 GHz, consumes 155W and costs $6,841. A low-end version has six cores and 12 Mbits L3 cache, runs at 1.9 GHz, consumes 105W, and costs $1,223.
Intel claims high-end parts in four-way systems deliver 40% to 80% more performance than similar servers using IBM's Power 7+ processor and 16% to 28% more than servers using Oracle's T5 chips.
The 22nm processors can analyze large, diverse amounts of data, previously unavailable to a single x86 system, according to an Intel release.
The chips will handle a wider swath of in-memory analytics tasks gaining steam among complex programs, Intel said. Industry analyst firm Gartner expects 35% of midsized to large companies will adopt in-memory analytics by 2015, up from 10% in 2012.
“With in-memory analytics, substantial amounts of data can be delivered into the processor’s CPUs, with reduced latency and increased speed of data analysis,” an Intel release stated. “This means a complex analysis that might have taken a business 8 hours to complete can be conquered in as little as 3 minutes -- a 148x improvement.”
“For the first time Intel has really shown the huge performance in in-memory databases instead of swapping between hard drive and flash," says Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insight & Strategy. "I can see it expanding the market for analytics, because they can afford to do it and they can do it much quicker.”
To that end, Moorhead believes Xeon may disrupt the 5% of the server market Intel doesn’t own already. This latest processor gives Intel access to the high revenues currently pocketed primarily by IBM’s Power processor and Oracle’s Sparc.
“They have taken the industry-standard x86 architecture and taken it to the highest levels of computing and memory. It eclipses the performance of everything IBM has,” he says, adding that the x86 has a wider set of server software available than competing RISC architectures.
“I can see Intel taking half of IBM and Oracle’s [high-end] market," says Moorhead. "I can see even companies like Oracle start backing off hardware. Intel’s announcement gives them something new to think about, and it’s not necessarily positive.”
— Jessica Lipsky, Associate Editor, EE Times
— Rick Merritt contributed to this report.