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Intel Gets FPGA Win As Dell EMC, Fujitsu Adopt Reprogrammable Chips For Their Server Lineups

Intel's FPGA chips, which are programmable after manufacture, provide the right balance for boosting both performance and power efficiency at levels that modern data centers require, the company says.

Intel scored a win for its Programmable Solutions Group Wednesday, saying Dell EMC and Fujitsu are adopting the company's reprogrammable chips in their server lineups.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said this marks the first major use of the field-programmable gate array (FPGA) chip "to help speed up mainstream applications for the modern data center." This also helps validate Intel's $16.7 billion acquisition of Altera, which was completed in 2015 to harness the company's reprogrammable chips for high-end computing.

Dell EMC's PowerEdge R640, R740 and R740XD servers that incorporate Intel's FPGA acceleration are available now. Fujitsu, another major data center player, is also adopting Intel's FPGA chips.

’We are at the horizon of a new era of data center computing as Dell EMC and Fujitsu put the power and flexibility of Intel FPGAs in mainstream server products,’ Reynette Au, vice president of marketing for the Intel Programmable Solutions Group, said in a statement. ’We’re enabling our customers and partners to create a rich set of high-performance solutions at scale by delivering the benefits of hardware performance, all in a software development environment.’

Intel said its FPGA chips, which are programmable after manufacture, provide the right balance for boosting both performance and power efficiency at levels that modern data centers require. The versatility and speed of Intel's reprogrammable chips allow them to handle a wide range of workloads, including analytics and financial services, the company added. Other applications include smart city infrastructure and smart grid.

Dell EMC and Fujitsu are implementing a full Intel hardware and software stack in their server products that includes Intel Programmable Acceleration Cards with the Arria 10 GX FPGA chip and the Intel Acceleration Stack for Intel Xeon Scalable processor with FPGAs.

The company's FPGA products fall within Intel's Programmable Solutions Group, which grew annual revenue by 14 percent to $1.9 billion in 2017. In a recent interview, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said Altera and Mobileye, the company's 2017 acquisition, "are our growth drivers for the future."

Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based cloud services provider, told CRN that Wednesday's announcement signals to companies like his to take note.

"If the big players are looking at it, this is something that will draw our attention," he said.

However, Goldstein said he is taking a wait-and-see approach to understand how FPGA chips could potentially impact his customer base, which includes health-care companies, law firms and real estate firms.

"It's kind of groundbreaking -- we don’t think we have seen anything like this in a long time because most things are locked down and embedded," he said. "That brings you back to a little more of an open standard."

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