Intel just rolled out three new Xeon processor families with a range of target uses: the E5-4600 for boosted performance and flexibility, the E5-2400 for small- to mid-sized businesses, and the E3-1200 v2 with improved performance per watt, data security and graphics capabilities for entry workstation customers. Altogether, Intel introduced 28 processors.
As part of the announcement, Boyd Davis, vice president and general manager of the Datacenter Infrastructure Group at Intel, said companies are increasingly dependent on IT to deliver innovative products and services to customers. Intel hopes to be the one to make IT look good.
But will Intel's move to drive Xeon innovations for small business and emerging scale workloads be met with enthusiasm among server makers? If OEM adoption is any signal, Intel could see new profits as both IBM and Dell deliver Xeon-based systems to market targeting these niche audiences.
The Ivy Bridge Disruption
We caught up with Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, to get his take on the latest news in the x86 data center revolution. He told us the overarching story has been a tale of industry standard upward mobility, pressing and pressuring traditional systems from below.
At the same time, he continued, displacement has been a constant theme in that narrative. Enter Intel's latest fab technology, widely known as Ivy Bridge. King said Ivy Bridge may look to some like just another chapter in an ongoing story but it could actually signal an entirely new era of industry-standard computing.
That, King said, is because not only did Intel's revolutionary new 3D Tri-Gate fabrication technology allow the company to become the first CPU vendor to deliver commercial 22-nanometer based products, the company also executed the process in good time, speeding its traditional "tick-tock" upgrade schedule and establishing a viable, believable roadmap for future tinier transistors.
Intel's Tick-Tock Advances
"[Intel CEO Paul] Otellini believes it will take other vendors up to four years to match the company's current 22nm solutions, by which time Intel will be delivering commercial 14nm-based solutions and have 10nm, 7nm and 5nm technologies in its sights," King said. "If that is the case, it will increase the pressure on other vendors substantially both in terms of CPU performance and also due to Intel's ability to deliver ever-larger volumes of product at highly competitive prices."
At the investor's conference, Otellini also noted the core company belief that the next "era" of personal computing would be driven by what he termed "information ubiquity," or the increasing prevalence of digital intelligence wherever, whenever and however consumers and businesses want it, King said.
"Intel believes the market opportunities around this trend will be in cloud and data center infrastructures, including technical computing and [high-performance computing]; personal computing, especially multimedia applications and services; mobility, including Ultrabooks, tablets and smartphones; and intelligent systems -- a new Intel moniker for embedded systems."
And, King concluded, virtually all these areas are ideally suited to leverage commodity x86 technologies, particularly those which are highly energy efficient. That leaves Intel in a prime position for the future.