The Intel Take on Blades

Arthur Cole

Intel is making its feelings known as to exactly how it wants blade server technology to unfold: increased modularization, preferably based on the quad-core Xeon.


The company is the latest signatory to the Modular Server Specification, a set of design standards backed by the 185-member Server Systems Infrastructure (SSI) organization. The design calls for a modular blade form factor and interoperable mezzanine cards and management interfaces, allowing data centers to mix and match blades from multiple vendors without costly integration measures.


As we've mentioned before, server commoditization is all but inevitable as the industry looks toward virtualization and consolidation to drive future productivity gains. As TechSpot's Justin Mann points out, blades are the preferred means to pack more processing power into tighter spaces, and a common design can both lower costs and make it easier to migrate toward an all-blade environment.


But it's the new quad-core Xeon 7300 Series MP (the Tigerton) that looks to be Intel's major inroad to the blade universe. The processor is likely to become the basis for the next generation of 16-core blades from Sun and others using Intel's Caneland platform featuring four-socket motherboards. Again, power savings is the key driver here, with 150-watt and 80-watt versions to start, and talk of a 50-watt design in the near future.


At the same time, Intel is dropping the 65 nm dual-core (dual-cores are old hat already) Xeon LV in both the 1.66 and 2.0 GHz versions, says TG Daily. Both versions were TDP (thermal design power) rated at 31 watts, which Intel said wasn't enough of a savings in light of the more powerful Woodcrest LV processors with 40 watt TDP. Intel will still make the 15-watt Xeon ULV dual-core chip, however.


There's no doubt that increased commonality among competing blade systems will deliver the desired cost and interoperability benefits. But there's a tendency for commoditization to lead to technological stagnation, which can be a significant drawback, even in hardware.

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