Intel surely has its head in the cloud -- this week the chip maker announced several new strategies for increasing its business with hosted service providers, including the development of a new "microserver" and a strengthened partnership with storage giant EMC.
"We're focused in on being an enabler for cloud computing," said Jason Waxman, general manager of Intel's high density computing group, introducing several new cloud initiatives from the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company in San Francisco on Thursday.
"We are not a cloud service provider and we have no intention of being an Amazon.com or doing what Microsoft and other companies do. But we want to do what we can to help partners build their cloud infrastructure," he said.
Intel has put together a reference design for what it calls a microserver, which is essentially a very small, stripped-down blade server built to idle at very low power in Web hosting environments. For the reference design shown Thursday, Intel had 16 of its microservers populating a master chassis that also had separate storage capacity.
Intel's current microserver design features the Xeon L3426 server processor -- a 1.86GHz, 45-watt quad-core that features Intel's current generation Nehalem microarchitecture and lists for $284 on Intel's price sheet. That chip, part of the product family code-named Lynnfield, sits on a simple motherboard featuring four DIMM slots and not much else.
Waxman said future versions of the microserver would feature a 2.26GHz, 30-watt dual-core chip due out in early 2010 that is part of Intel's upcoming transition to 32-nanometer process technology. Intel is also planning future microservers that take system power down to as low as 25-watt, he said.
Intel and Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC are also teaming up to optimize EMC's Atmos clustered storage platform for cloud environments, executives from the two vendors said Thursday. That involves improved power management that moves beyond the "micro-management" of individual systems towards "the macro task managing hundreds of thousands of servers," according to Intel's Prasad Rampalli, vice president and general manager of end-user platform integration.
The upshot is that such improvements translate into a reduction of the total amount of power used by Intel-based storage servers running EMC Atmos "by almost 15 percent at rack level, without losing performance," Rampalli said.
Other areas where Intel and EMC are collaborating include the integration of Solid State Disk (SSD) technology in systems to reduce I/0 bottlenecks, he said.
Intel's last bit of cloud-related news this week was the introduction of what it calls the Intel Cloud Builder program. Intended as a resource for organizations of all stripes seeking to build a cloud computing practice, Cloud Builder is essentially a best-practices guide generated from Intel's own hardware blueprint and testing of cloud installations, said Billy Cox, director of server software management strategy.