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Intel Debuts Xeon D System-on-a-Chip for Server Density

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted March 9, 2015

Intel today announced a new lineup of server silicon with the Xeon-D system-on-a-chip (SoC) architecture. The new Xeon family is not intended to replace the Xeon E5 and E7 families for enterprise workloads, but rather are targeted for edge of network density use-cases.

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During a live webcast event announcing the new Xeon D chips, Lisa Spelman, director of Datacenter Product Xeon DMarketing at Intel, said the new silicon is built on a 14-nanometer process. Spelman emphasized that Intel does not see the new Xeon chips as a replacement for the Intel Atom product line.

"The Intel Atom that we ship now is really great for extreme density, but there is a performance tradeoff that you make," Spelman said.

For example, Spelman noted that in a storage use case, Atom can help enable cold storage at high density with performance characteristics that are appropriate for that type of deployment.

"Xeon D takes it up a notch," Spelman said. "With Xeon D you get a higher level of performance and server-class features in an SoC footprint."

From a competitive perspective, Intel lately has been feeling some pressure from rivals making announcements with ARM. Though Spelman did not mention ARM by name, she noted that Intel does care about the competitive landscape.

She emphasized however that when Intel looks at the competition, it looks at products that are actually shipping. In that respect, she noted that Atom today compares really well against the competition in terms of performance per watt.

Spelman said the Xeon D has 3.4 times higher performance overall and up to 1.7 times the per watt performance that Atom has today.

"So Atom compares nicely to current competitive shipping options and then Xeon D is in the stack above that, then Xeon E5 and E7 are the highest performance we offer," Spelman said.

Initially, Intel will have two Xeon D processors models, with additional options set to be announced later this year. The Xeon D-1520 is a 45-watt processor with 4 cores that runs at 2.2 GHz. The Xeon D-1540 is a 45-watt 2.0 GHz processor with 8 cores.

Both of the new Xeon D chips can handle up to 128 GB of DDR4 RAM and both have support for two 1/2.15/10 GbE Ethernet network interfaces. Integrated I/O on the two Xeon D chips includes 24 x PCIe 3.0, 8 x PCIe 2.0, 4 x USB 3.0, 4 x USB 2.0 and 6 x SATA 3.0.

Both of the Intel Xeon D chips support Intel's VT-x, VT-d and Cache QoS virtualization technologies.

Spelman explained that the Xeon D-1520 and D1540 are targeted at the data center edge, including dedicated hosting, dynamic web services and storage. For Xeon D, Spelman said the target is not enterprise application workloads, where the Xeon E5 and E7 are positioned as the proper fit for the core of the data center.

"In the second half of 2015, we'll be back to talk more about what we see in terms of new products and features targeted at the network edge," Spelman said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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