Intel To Tackle Big Data With New Xeon Processors, Integrated Fabrics

Tablets and smartphones may be dampening sales within Intel's PC client group, but they are boding well for its data center unit, driving demand for Intel's low-power Xeon server chips that can help data centers better sift through and make sense of big data.

Diane Bryant, vice president and general manager of Datacenter and Connected Systems Group at Intel, took the stage Tuesday at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco to emphasize the chip maker's commitment to making its Xeon line of server processors ready to handle the compute-intensive workloads introduced through the cloud, big data and high-performance computing.

The increased adoption of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, along with the stream of unstructured data pouring into data centers from social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, is also driving the demand for low-power yet high-performing server technologies more than ever, Bryant said.

[Related: Intel Debuts Haswell Core Processors, Next-Gen Line Of Ultrabooks ]

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And as demand for sever technologies capable of handling this influx in data increases, Intel's Data Center group has grown significantly, nearly doubling in size over the past five years, Bryant said. Meanwhile, the group's mantra of churning out higher-performing yet more efficient processors has stayed firmly intact.

"Intel entered the server market in 1997," she told IDF attendees Tuesday. "Over that time, we have increased performance by 10,000 times and doing so at just 10 times the power."

To keep this momentum in full swing, Intel is readying its next-generation Xeon E7 processors for production next year. The new processors, which are already being sampled by Intel OEM customers, will be based on Intel's 22-nm Ivy Bridge microarchitecture, allowing them to deliver higher performance, without sacrificing power efficiency.

What's more, Bryant said Intel is working to embed hardware-level security into all its server offerings, starting with its new initiative to integrate McAfee's Deep Defender and DeepSafe security solutions directly within its upcoming Xeon processors, granting users the peace of mind that their data is protected from malware and attacks.

"With Deep Defender and DeepSafe technology, we are able to run the DeepDefender anti-virus application with visibility down at the hardware level," Bryant said. "We can monitor system operations, identify vicious cod, and preserve the system."

Bryant said this new hardware-level security would be particularly appealing to customers running applications in the cloud, where security and data protection concerns are heightened.

NEXT: Integrated Fabrics Also On Intel's Agenda

Lastly, Intel is working to increase data center scalability by integrating fabric controllers directly onto its CPU die. Intel's Bryant said the company plans on leveraging the IP it received from its recent acquisitions of the fabric units from Cray and QLogic to follow through on this design.

"We are taking the Cray expertise we have acquired and the QLogic expertise we have acquired ... that all comes together in what we believe will be industry-leading fabric technology we will then integrate into the processor," she said.

The integrated fabric model will prove especially beneficial to data centers in the high-performance computing space, where it can accelerate server communication while keeping power consumption levels low.

Rival chip-maker AMD has also made a recent push to integrate fabric controllers into its chips, with its February acquisition of low-power microserver vendor SeaMicro.