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Intel Xeon Scalable Processors SDDI and SDDC

server storage I/O data infrastructure trends


Recently Intel announced a new family of Xeon  Scalable Processors (aka Purely) that for some workloads Intel claims to be on average of 1.65x  faster than their predecessors. Note your real improvement will vary based on  workload, configuration, benchmark testing, type of processor, memory, and  many other server storage I/O performance considerations.

Intel Scalable Xeon Processors
Image via


In  general the new Intel Xeon Scalable Processors enable legacy and software  defined data infrastructures (SDDI), along with software  defined data centers (SDDC), cloud and other environments to support expanding  workloads more efficiently as well as effectively (e.g. boosting productivity).


Data Infrastructures and workloads


Some  target application and environment workloads Intel is positioning these new  processors for includes among others:

  • Machine  Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), advanced analytics, deep learning  and big data
  • Networking  including software defined network (SDN) and network function virtualization  (NFV)
  • Cloud  and Virtualization including Azure Stack, Docker and Kubernetes containers,  Hyper-V, KVM, OpenStack VMware vSphere, KVM among others
  • High  Performance Compute (HPC) and High Productivity Compute (e.g. the other HPC)
  • Storage  including legacy and emerging software defined storage software deployed as appliances,  systems or server less deployment modes.


Features  of the new Intel Xeon Scalable Processors include:

  • New  core micro architecture with interconnects and on die memory controllers
  • Sockets  (processors) scalable up to 28 cores
  • Improved  networking performance using Quick Assist and Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK)
  • Leverages Intel Quick Assist Technology for CPU offload  of compute intensive functions including I/O networking, security, AI, ML, big  data, analytics and storage functions. Functions that benefit from Quick Assist  include cryptography, encryption, authentication, cipher operations, digital  signatures, key exchange, loss less data compression and data footprint  reduction along with data at rest encryption (DARE).
  • Optane Non-Volatile Dual Inline Memory Module  (NVDIMM) for storage class memory (SCM) also referred to by some as Persistent  Memory (PM), not to be confused with Physical Machine (PM).
  • Supports  Advanced Vector Extensions 512  (AVX-512)  for HPC and other workloads
  • Optional Omni-Path Fabrics in addition to 1/10Gb Ethernet  among other I/O options
  • Six memory channels supporting up to 6TB of RDIMM  with multi socket systems
  • From  two to eight  sockets per node (system)
  • Systems  support PCIe 3.x (some supporting x4 based M.2 interconnects)


Note  that exact speeds, feeds, slots and watts will vary by specific server model  and vendor options. Also note that some server system solutions have two or  more nodes (e.g. two or more real servers) in a single package not to be  confused with two or more sockets per node (system or motherboard). Refer to the where to learn more section below for links to Intel benchmarks and other resources.


Software Defined Data Infrastructures, SDDC, SDX and SDDI

What  About Speeds and Feeds

Watch  for and check out the various Intel partners who have or will be announcing  their new server compute platforms based on Intel Xeon Scalable Processors.  Each of the different vendors will have various speeds and feeds options that  build on the fundamental Intel Xeon Scalable Processor capabilities.


For  example Dell EMC announced their 14G server platforms at the May 2017  Dell EMC World event with details to follow (e.g. after the Intel  announcements).


Some  things to keep in mind include the amount of DDR4 DRAM (or Optane NVDIMM) will  vary by vendors server platform configuration, motherboards, several sockets  and DIMM slots. Also keep in mind the differences between registered (e.g.  buffered RDIMM) that give good capacity and great performance, and load reduced  DIMM (LRDIMM) that have great capacity and ok performance.


Various nvme options

What  about NVMe

It's there as these systems like previous Intel models support NVMe devices via PCIe  3.x slots, and some vendor solutions also supporting M.2 x4 physical  interconnects as well.


server storageIO flash and SSD
Image via Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials (CRC)


Note that Broadcom formerly known as Avago and LSI recently  announced PCIe based RAID and adapter cards that support NVMe attached devices in addition to  SAS and SATA.


server storage data infrastructure sddi

What  About Intel and Storage

In  case you have not connected the dots yet, the Intel Xeon Scalable Processor  based server (aka compute) systems are also a fundamental platform for storage  systems, services, solutions, appliances along with tin-wrapped software.


What  this means is that the Intel Xeon Scalable Processors based systems can be used  for deploying legacy as well as new and emerging software-defined storage  software solutions. This also means that the Intel platforms can be used to  support SDDC, SDDI, SDX, SDI as well as other forms of legacy and  software-defined data infrastructures along with cloud, virtual, container,  server less among other modes of deployment.

Intel SSD
Image Via


Moving  beyond server and compute platforms, there is another tie to storage as part of  this recent as well as other Intel announcements. Just a few weeks ago Intel announced  64 layer triple level cell (TLC) 3D NAND solutions positioned for the client  market (laptop, workstations, tablets, thin clients). Intel with that  announcement increased the traditional aerial density (e.g. bits per square  inch or cm) as well as boosting the number of layers (stacking more bits as  well).


The  net result is not only more bits per square inch, also more per cubic inch or  cm. This is all part of a continued evolution of NAND flash including from 2D  to 3D, MCL to TLC, 32 to 64 layer.  In  other words, NAND flash-based Solid State  Devices (SSDs) are very much still a relevant and continue to be enhanced  technology even with the emerging 3D XPoint and Optane (also available via Amazon in M.2) in the wings.


server memory evolution
  Via Intel and Micron (3D XPoint launch)


Keep in mind that NAND flash-based technologies were announced almost 20 years ago (1999), and are still evolving. 3D XPoint announced two years ago, along with other emerging storage class memories (SCM), non-volatile memory (NVM) and persistent memory (PM) devices are part of the future as is 3D NAND (among others). Speaking of 3D XPoint and Optane, Intel had announcements about that  in the past as well.


Where To Learn More

Learn  more about Intel Xeon Scalable Processors along with related technology,  trends, tools, techniques and tips with the following links.

What This All Means

Some say the PC is dead and IMHO that depends on what you mean or define a PC as. For example if you refer to a PC generically to also include servers besides workstations or other devices, then they are alive. If however your view is that PCs are only workstations and client devices, then they are on the decline.


However if your view is that a PC is defined by the underlying processor such as Intel general purpose 64 bit x86 derivative (or descendent) then they are very much alive. Just as older generations of PCs leveraging general purpose Intel based x86 (and its predecessors) processors were deployed for many uses, so to are today's line of Xeon (among others) processors.


Even with the increase of ARM, GPU and other specialized processors, as well as ASIC and FPGAs for offloads, the role of general purpose processors continues to increase, as does the technology evolution around. Even with so called server less architectures, they still need underlying compute server platforms for running software, which also includes software defined storage, software defined networks, SDDC, SDDI, SDX, IoT among others.


Overall this is a good set of announcements by Intel and what we can also expect to be a flood of enhancements from their partners who will use the new  family of Intel Xeon Scalable Processors in their products to enable software defined data infrastructures (SDDI) and SDDC.


Ok, nuff said (for now...).


server storage I/O data infrastructure trends
Updated 6/29/17


European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) go into effect in a year on May 25 2018 are you ready?


What Is GDPR

If your initial response is that you are not in Europe and do not need to be concerned about GDPR you might want to step back and review that thought. While it is possible that some organizations may not be affected by GDPR in Europe directly, there might be indirect considerations. For example, GDPR, while focused on Europe, has ties to other initiatives in place or being planned for elsewhere in the world. Likewise unlike earlier regulatory compliance that tended to focus on specific industries such as healthcare (HIPPA and HITECH) or financial (SARBOX, Dodd/Frank among others), these new regulations can be more far-reaching.


Where To Learn More

Acronis GDPR Resources

Quest GDPR Resources

Microsoft and Azure Cloud GDPR Resources


Do you have or know of relevant GDPR information and resources? Feel free to add them via comments or send us an email, however please watch the spam and sales pitches as they will be moderated.


What This All Means

Now is the time to start planning, preparing for GDPR if you have not done so and need to, as well as becoming more generally aware of it and other initiatives. One of the key takeaways is that while the word compliance is involved, there is much more to GDPR than just compliance as we have seen in the part. With GDPR and other initiatives data protection becomes the focus including privacy, protect, preserve, secure, serve as well as manage, have insight, awareness along with associated reporting.


Ok, nuff said (for now...).



Who Will Be At Top Of Storage World Next Decade?

server storage I/O data infrastructure trends


Data storage regardless of if hardware, legacy, new, emerging, cloud service or various software defined storage (SDS) approaches are all fundamental resource components of data infrastructures along with compute server, I/O networking as well as management tools, techniques, processes and procedures.


fundamental Data Infrastructure resource components
Fundamental Data Infrastructure resources


Data infrastructures include legacy along with software  defined data infrastructures (SDDI), along with software  defined data centers (SDDC), cloud and other environments to support expanding  workloads more efficiently as well as effectively (e.g. boosting productivity).


Data Infrastructures and workloads
Data Infrastructure and other IT Layers (stacks and altitude levels)


Various data infrastructures resource components spanning server, storage, I/O networks, tools along with hardware, software, services get defined as well as composed into solutions or services which may in turn be further aggregated into more extensive higher altitude offerings (e.g. further up the stack).

IT and Data Infrastructure Stack Layers
Various IT and Data Infrastructure Stack Layers (Altitude Levels)


Focus on Data Storage Present and Future Predictions

Drew Robb (@Robbdrew) has a good piece over at Enterprise Storage Forum looking at the past, present and future of who will rule the data storage world that includes several perspective predictions comments from myself as well as others. Some of the perspectives and predictions by others are more generic and technology trend and buzzword bingo focus which should not be a surprise. For example including the usual performance, Cloud and Object Storage, DPDK, RDMA/RoCE, Software-DefinedNVM/Flash/SSD, CI/HCI, NVMe among others.


Here are some excerpts from Drews piece along with my perspective and prediction comments of who may rule the data storage roost in a decade:

Amazon Web Services (AWS) – AWS includes cloud and object storage in the form of S3. However, there is more to storage than object and S3 with AWS also having Elastic File Services (EFS), Elastic Block Storage (EBS), database, message queue and on-instance storage, among others. for traditional, emerging and storage for the Internet of Things (IoT).


It is difficult to think of AWS not being a major player in a decade unless they totally screw up their execution in the future. Granted, some of their competitors might be working overtime putting pins and needles into Voodoo Dolls (perhaps bought via while wishing for the demise of Amazon Web Services, just saying.


Voodoo Dolls via
  Voodoo Dolls and image via


Of course, Amazon and AWS could follow the likes of Sears (e.g. some may remember their catalog) and ignore the future ending up on the where are they now list. While talking about Amazon and AWS, one will have to wonder where Wall Mart will end up in a decade with or without a cloud of their own?


Microsoft – With Windows, Hyper-V and Azure (including Azure Stack), if there is any company in the industry outside of AWS or VMware that has quietly expanded its reach and positioning into storage, it is Microsoft, said Schulz.


Microsoft IMHO has many offerings and capabilities across different dimensions as well as playing fields. There is the installed base of Windows Servers (and desktops) that have the ability to leverage Software Defined Storage including Storage Spaces Direct (S2D), ReFS, cache and tiering among other features. In some ways I'm surprised by the number of people in the industry who are not aware of Microsoft's capabilities from S2D and the ability to configure CI as well as HCI (Hyper Converged Infrastructure) deployments, or of Hyper-V abilities, Azure Stack to Azure among others. On the other hand, I run into Microsoft people who are not aware of the full portfolio offerings or are just focused on Azure. Needless to say, there is a lot in the Microsoft storage related portfolio as well as bigger broader data infrastructure offerings.

NetApp – Schulz thinks NetApp has the staying power to stay among the leading lights of data storage. Assuming it remains as a freestanding company and does not get acquired, he said, NetApp has the potential of expanding its portfolio with some new acquisitions. “NetApp can continue their transformation from a company with a strong focus on selling one or two products to learning how to sell the complete portfolio with diversity,” said Schulz.


NetApp has been around and survived up to now including via various acquisitions, some of which have had mixed results vs. others. However assuming NetApp can continue to reinvent themselves, focusing on selling the entire solution portfolio vs. focus on specific products, along with good execution and some more acquisitions, they have the potential for being a top player through the next decade.


Dell EMC – Dell EMC is another stalwart Schulz thinks will manage to stay on top. “Given their size and focus, Dell EMC should continue to grow, assuming execution goes well,” he said.

There are some who I hear are or have predicted the demise of Dell EMC, granted some of those predicted the demise of Dell and or EMC years ago as well. Top companies can and have faded away over time, and while it is possible Dell EMC could be added to the where are they now list in the future, my bet is that at least while Michael Dell is still involved, they will be a top player through the next decade, unless they mess up on execution.


Cloud and software defined storage data infrastructure
Various Data Infrastructures and Resources involving Data Storage


Huawei – Huawei is one of the emerging giants from China that are steadily gobbling up market share. It is now a top provider in many categories of storage, and its rapid ascendancy is unlikely to stop anytime soon. “Keep an eye on Huawei, particularly outside of the U.S. where they are starting to hit their stride,” said Schulz.

In the US, you have to look or pay attention to see or hear what Huawei is doing involving data storage, however that is different in other parts of the world. For example, I see and hear more about them in Europe than in the US. Will Huawei do more in the US in the future? Good question, keep an eye on them.


VMware – A decade ago, Storage Networking World (SNW) was by far the biggest event in data storage. Everyone who was anyone attended this twice yearly event. And then suddenly, it lost its luster. A new forum known as VMworld had emerged and took precedence. That was just one of the indicators of the disruption caused by VMware. And Schulz expects the company to continue to be a major force in storage. “VMware will remain a dominant player, expanding its role with software-defined storage,” said Schulz.

VMware has a dominant role in data storage not just because of the relationship with Dell EMC, or because of VSAN which continues to gain in popularity, or the soon to be released VMware on AWS solution options among others. Sure all of those matters, however, keep in mind that VMware solutions also tie into and work with other legacies as well as software-defined storage solution, services as well as tools spanning block, file, object for virtual machines as well as containers.


"Someday soon, people are going to wake up like they did with VMware and AWS," said Schulz. "That’s when they will be asking 'When did Microsoft get into storage like this in such a big way.'"


What the above means is that some environments may not be paying attention to what AWS, Microsoft, VMware among others are doing, perhaps discounting them as the old or existing while focusing on new, emerging what ever is trendy in the news this week. On the other hand, some environments may see the solution offerings from those mentioned as not relevant to their specific needs, or capable of scaling to their requirements.


Keep in mind that it was not that long ago, just a few years that VMware entered the market with what by today's standard (e.g. VSAN and others) was a relatively small virtual storage appliance offering, not to mention many people discounted and ignored VMware as a practical storage solution provider. Things and technology change, not to mention there are different needs and solution requirements for various environments. While a solution may not be applicable today, give it some time, keep an eye on them to avoid being surprised asking the question, how and when did a particular vendor get into storage in such a big way.


Is Future Data Storage World All Cloud?

Perhaps someday everything involving data storage will be in or part of the cloud.


Does this mean everything is going to the cloud, or at least in the next ten years? IMHO the simple answer is no, even though I see more workloads, applications, and data residing in the cloud, there will also be an increase in hybrid deployments.


Note that those hybrids will span local and on-premise or on-site if you prefer, as well as across different clouds or service providers. Granted some environments are or will become all in on clouds, while others are or will become a hybrid or some variation. Also when it comes to clouds, do not be scared, be prepared. Also keep an eye on what is going on with containers, orchestration, management among other related areas involving persistent storage, a good example is Dell EMCcode RexRay among others.

Server Storage I/O resources
Various data storage focus areas along with data infrastructures.


What About Other Vendors, Solutions or Services?

In addition to those mentioned above, there are plenty of other existing, new and emerging vendors, solutions, and services to keep an eye on, look into, test and conduct a proof of concept (PoC) trial as part of being an informed data infrastructure and data storage shopper (or seller).


Keep in mind that component suppliers some of whom like Cisco also provides turnkey solutions that are also part of other vendors offerings (e.g. Dell EMC VxBlock, NetApp FlexPod among others), Broadcom (which includes Avago/LSI, Brocade Fibre Channel, among others), Intel (servers, I/O adapters, memory and SSDs), Mellanox, Micron, Samsung, Seagate and many others.

E8, Excelero, Elastifile (software defined storage), Enmotus (micro-tiering, read Server StorageIOlab report here), Everspin (persistent and storage class memories including NVDIMM), Hedvig (software defined storage), NooBaa, Nutanix, Pivot3, Rozo (software defined storage), WekaIO (scale out elastic software defined storage, read Server StorageIO report here).


Some other software defined management tools, services, solutions and components  I'm keeping an eye on, exploring, digging deeper into (or plan to) include Blue Medora, Datadog, Dell EMCcode and RexRay docker container storage volume management, Google, HPE, IBM Bluemix Cloud aka IBM Softlayer, Kubernetes, Mangstor, OpenStack, Oracle, Retrospect, Rubrix, Quest, Starwind, Solarwinds, Storpool, Turbonomic, Virtuozzo (software defined storage) among many others


What about those not mentioned? Good question, some of those I have mentioned in earlier Server StorageIO Update newsletters,  as well as many others mentioned in my new book "Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials" (CRC Press). Then there are those that once I hear something interesting from on a regular basis will get more frequent mentions as well. Of course, there is also a list to be done someday that is basically where are they now, e.g. those that have disappeared, or never lived up to their full hype and marketing (or technology) promises, let's leave that for another day.


Where To Learn More

Learn  more about  related technology,  trends, tools, techniques, and tips with the following links.

Data Infrastructures and workloads
Data Infrastructures Resources (Servers, Storage, I/O Networks) enabling various services


What This All Means

It is safe to say that each new year will bring new trends, techniques, technologies, tools, features, functionality as well as solutions involving data storage as well as data infrastructures. This means a usual safe bet is to say that the current year is the most exciting and has the most new things than in the past when it comes to data infrastructures along with resources such as data storage. Keep in mind that there are many aspects to data infrastructures as well as storage all of which are evolving. Who Will Be At Top Of Storage World Next Decade? What say you?


Ok, nuff said (for now...).